Westlakes Vet Team Saves Baby Blue Tongue
Being located in the middle of Fennell Bay, surrounded by bush and Lake Macquarie means that we are often faced with Australian Native animals who are in urgent need of our help.
The last Friday of January 2014 was no exception.
Nurse Heidi was met at the door with a small cardboard box and a very concerned local citizen who had found this tiny creature in distress.
Upon further inspection Nurse Heidi recognized a baby Blue Tongue Lizard, no more than half the length of her pen. She knew he needed our help.
The tiny lizard, nicknamed 'Kurt' met Dr Paul. Next, Dr Paul assessed Kurt's injuries and decided on a plan of action. Kurt would need several stitches on his jawline.
Under Dr Paul's direction Nurse Heidi selected the appropriate tools and prepared the theatre.
With any native animal in stress, shock is a big danger they face.
Shock can be brought on by a traumatic experience or severe pain in the animal, it is a last ditch effort by the animal's body to save its life. It can cause the body to shut down as it tries to save itself.
Shock needs to be treated almost immediately and this can be done quickly.
Time for action!
First of all we need to warm the animal, in this case Kurt, in a small dark and quiet place. Kurt was moved to our purpose built safety crate that we use for native animals. This carrier can house a heat mat, a blanket and enough room for Kurt to move the heat if he likes.
Nurse Heidi covers Kurt's box with a towel to keep his area nice and dark until it is time for his procedure.
Dr Paul administers some medication so that Kurt will not be in pain when his sutures are placed.
With Nurse Heidi holding and monitoring Kurt's vital signs such as breathing and heart rate, Dr Paul gets to work.
Using small sutures, he closes Kurt's facial wound making sure to keep the ends small so they won't irritate Kurt as he is in the healing process.
Once the procedure is complete, Kurt is quickly put back into his safe box and is covered again to ensure he feels calm and safe after all the hands on work that was his surgery.
Nurse Heidi checks his vital signs every ten minutes for the next hour until we are sure Kurt is out of the woods.
Kurt thanks us by giving a little hiss, eating his lunch and growing big and strong!
If you ever encounter an injured lizard or other native reptile, it is best to call the Native Animal Trust Fund hotline: 0418 628 483.
The hotline is manned 24hrs and they can instruct you on which type of reptile you are dealing with. If it safe to pick up and if it injured, they will ask you to take it to a vet.