WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc.
Wildlife rehabilitators see a wide range of health problems in native wildlife admitted for rehabilitation. While many of these conditions are a result of trauma such as falls, attacks by domestic animals, and collisions with vehicles or buildings, an increasing number of wildlife cases involving toxins are being identified. As with other serious medical conditions, wildlife rehabilitators work closely with their veterinarians to diagnose the problem and treat the animal. Most wild animals affected by poisoning are believed to die in the wild without any medical care; and, unfortunately, even many poison cases admitted to rehabilitation have been fatal.
In the last couple of years, some wildlife rehabilitators trained in Classical Homeopathy and working in collaboration with veterinarians have seen positive results in the use of homeopathy with some wild animals that were exposed to toxins. A sample of such cases follow.
Scrub Jay with Gastro-intestinal Problems
A homeowner spraying weeds with the herbicide Round-upâ„¢ accidentally drenched a Western Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma californica) nestling. The homeowner rushed the juvenile bird to the local wildlife rehabilitation center. Examination showed that he was dehydrated and had brown diarrhea with an offensive odor. His vent was already caked with feces. He was lethargic. Even though he was thin, he did not open his mouth as a young bird should when offered food. The rehabilitator placed him on heat, began hydrating him with lactated ringer’s solution, and cleaned his vent.
The rehabilitator called the state Poison Control Center for treatment information. She was told to wash the bird, but no other treatments were suggested. She washed the bird and continued the rehydration. She prepared a thin diet used to force feed underweight, non-gaping birds and supplemented it with a bacteria beneficial for birds with diarrhea. She force-fed the mixture to the bird as soon as it was fully rehydrated. After conferring with a veterinarian, she started the bird on Amoxicillin®.
The next day, the bird began to gape but less often than normal and was periodically force-fed to supplement the diet he took in voluntarily. He was continued on the same diet and medication throughout the day. While hydrated, the offensive smelling diarrhea continued. He remained underweight and lethargic. Late afternoon of the third day, a rehabilitator familiar with homeopathy came on duty and, finding his condition had not improved, she reviewed the case and repertorized, using Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica (Kent) and Homeopathic Medical Repertory (Murphy). The rubrics used were:
Rectum; diarrhea; general; children, in
Generalities; weakness; diarrhea, from
Stool; odor; offensive
Stomach; appetite; diminished
Generalities; emaciation; children
T; Toxicity; chemicals, hypersensitive to
After reading the four homeopathic remedies with the highest scores to determine the best match, the rehabilitator selected Arsenicum album at a 30c potency. After conferring with her homeopathic veterinarian, she administered the homeopathic remedy. The next morning the bird was gaping and eating willingly, but still had diarrhea. By afternoon, there had been no further improvement and the Arsenicum album 30c was repeated. By the next morning the diarrhea had stopped but the bird was still lethargic. The Arsenicum album 30c was repeated a third time. By afternoon the bird was behaving normally. He began to grow normally, fledged, and was provided prerelease conditioning in a flight cage. The fully recovered bird was released back to the area where it was found.
Fox Squirrels with Neurological Symptoms
A rescuer telephoned a wildlife rehabilitator and asked her to help two orphaned Fox squirrels (Sciurus niger). She explained that, three days earlier, a landscaping company had sprayed a strong pesticide on the grass and some trees at the apartment complex where she lived. Signs had been posted saying not to walk on the grass. The apartment residents had seen several birds and an adult squirrel dead near the trees within two days of the spraying. On the third day the rescuer had found two juvenile squirrels at the base of one of the trees and called the rehabilitator.
On examination, the juvenile squirrels appeared mildly dehydrated, but did not show any other abnormal symptoms. The rehabilitator placed them on heat in a quiet place and rehydrated them. By the following day, they were on the appropriate squirrel milk replacement formula and behaving normally. On the morning of the fifth day, a Friday, the male seemed to be more restless than usual and his grip on the small feeding syringe seemed weak. By afternoon, he was even more restless and seemed anxious, and the weakness in his front legs was increasing. The rehabilitator arranged for a veterinary appointment for the following morning. The next morning, the juvenile squirrel was unable to move his front legs and screeched when touched or trying to move. The rehabilitator felt he was in severe pain. Before she could get him to the veterinarian, the male squirrel died.
The following afternoon, the female sibling began showing a rapid progression of the same symptoms, including weakness in upper limbs, restlessness, anxiety, and pain. Since the veterinarian was unavailable on Sundays, the rehabilitator contacted another rehabilitator who had been trained in classical homeopathy. The case was immediately repertorized using a Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica (Kent) and Homeopathic Medical Repertory (Murphy). The rubrics considered were:
T; toxicity; chemicals, hypersensitive to; pesticides
Extremities; weakness; upper limbs; hands
Generalities; pain; intolerable
Mind; restlessness, nervousness; general
After reviewing the homeopathic medicines with the highest ranking in a materia medica, both rehabilitators felt that Arsenicum album was the best match for the symptoms. While they would prefer to confirm it with a homeopathic veterinarian, such consultation was not available and the animal was deteriorating rapidly. They decided to proceed with the homeopathic medicine. Arsenicum album 200c was dissolved in water and administered orally. Within five minutes, the squirrel relaxed, stopped screeching, and fell asleep. The following morning, the squirrel was less restless and anxious. Twenty-four hours after the Arsenicum album, she was using her front legs normally and easily holding the feeding syringe. She recovered fully and was released about eight weeks later, at the normal time for her species.
Birds with Arching Backs and Convulsive Movements
An adult American robin (Turdus migratorius) was delivered to a wildlife rehabilitator in June. The rescuers explained that they found the bird lying in the middle of their yard. They suspected toxins since a nearby golf course had been intensively spraying pesticides on the trees and grass in recent days.
The rehabilitator examined the robin. The bird had rapid and difficult breathing and was shivering and trembling. She also was severely uncoordinated and her head nodded forward. She intermittently arched her back and neck, and had clenched legs and toes. She had dilated pupils and had a dazed look in her eyes. Her eyes alternated between staring and rolling back and forth. She was also vocalizing and had some diarrhea.
The rehabilitator had taken dozens of similar cases to several different veterinarians who indicated that such convulsive seizures after a suspected pesticide exposure were extremely difficult to treat. They had tried a wide variety of treatments, but the birds often died or had to be euthanized within a few hours. The veterinarians were supportive of her trying holistic treatments for possible poisonings, but were not optimistic.
The rehabilitator repertorized the case of the American robin using the Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica (Kent). The rubrics she used were:
Back; convulsive, spasmodic drawing; cervical region, head bent back
Generalities; convulsive movements
Vertigo; fall, tendency to; forward
Eye; movement, eyeballs; convulsive
Extremities; contraction of muscles and tendons;
Head; motions of head; convulsive
Eye; pupils; dilated
The rehabilitator reviewed the eleven top remedies in the Materia Medica with Repertory (Boericke). Only one of the top eleven remedies seemed to be a close match: Cicuta virosa. It covered the back bent like an arch, the violent convulsions, respiratory difficulties, and eye symptoms. The rehabilitator dissolved the Cicuta virosa 30c and administered it orally. The convulsions stopped almost immediately, but resumed in 30 minutes. The Cicuta virosa 30c was repeated. Again the convulsions stopped, and then resumed, but they were a bit less severe. The Cicuta virosa 30c was given a third time. The convulsions stopped completely. The robin recovered fully and was released after being carefully monitored for any abnormalities for two weeks.
In a case similar to the American robin (above), a Rock dove (Columba livia; pigeon) was admitted after being found near an office building the owners of which had a history of trying to destroy pigeons by putting out corn laced with poison. The rock dove had similar symptoms to the American robin except it had a rapid increase in body temperature with the arched back and held his wings over his back. Cicuta virosa 30c was given twice (over a short period of time, based on Classical Homeopathic principles). The bird improved, but then the symptoms changed: the back was no longer arched, and the bird’s eyes were no longer dilated or moving, but locked in a fixed stare. The rehabilitator repertorized again and selected Cuprum metallicum as the closest match. She dissolved the Cuprum metallicum 30c in water and administered a dose. The symptoms disappeared in 30 minutes. The bird recovered fully within hours. After being monitored in a flight cage for a week, the bird was released.
In the decade since these two cases, the rehabilitator has admitted over 400 birds with similar symptoms. Over seventy percent of those birds with similar suspected pesticide exposure with accompanying arching backs and seizures recovered and were eventually released after two to four doses of Cicuta virosa 30c, and occasionally Cuprum metallicum.
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel with Hemorrhage
A rescuer delivered a Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus lateralis) to a rehabilitator. He explained that he had found the animal near the rock wall surrounding his driveway. He had put it in a box, and promptly delivered it to the rehabilitator. When the rehabilitator opened the box, she found the ground squirrel dead. The rescuer said it was the third small rodent he knew had died near his driveway in several days. The rehabilitator suggested that he check with neighbors to see if any had been using rodent poisons.
The following day, the same rescuer arrived with another collapsed ground squirrel. He said he had been watching it from a window when it was walking and collapsed. He had put it in a box and rushed it to the rehabilitator. The rehabilitator opened the box to find a cold, collapsed animal. As she was examining it, the rescuer said one of his neighbors admitted having recently used rodent poison for voles. The rehabilitator immediately put the animal on heat and administered an injection of Vitamin K as directed by her veterinarian. She knew she would have to administer Vitamin K orally for another 29 days according to the standard treatment protocol for many rodenticides.
An hour later, the ground squirrel was still collapsed, cool, even though on supplemental heat, and had fresh blood from his nose. It did not appear that the Vitamin K alone was enough to stop the hemorrhagic action of the rodenticide. She quickly repertorized using Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica (Kent). The rubrics she used were:
Generalities; collapse; sudden
Generalities; heat; vital, lack of
Nose; epistaxis; general; bright
Generalities; hemorrhage; tendency or actual; internal
Two remedies ranked high: Phosphorus and Arsenicum album. After reading the descriptions, both seemed to be a fairly close match. She decided to give the Phosphorus since it had somewhat stronger indications for hemorrhagic conditions. She dissolved the Phosphorus 200c and administered it orally. Within 10 minutes, the blood from the nose had stopped and the animal seemed more alert. Within twelve hours, he was beginning to eat and act more normally. She kept him in rehabilitation and on the Vitamin K for the full 30-day period. He recovered completely and was released in a new area, away from where people would use rodent poisons.
Factors Influencing Success
The authors believe that many factors contributed to the successful results in the above cases. Such factors include:
- The animals were still in good enough condition to be able to recover. Some poisoned animals have had so much damage that they cannot recover.
- There is a short window to be able to successfully treat toxins – and these animals were admitted and effective help was available quickly.
- Knowledgeable, skilled, experienced wildlife rehabilitators with the appropriate state and federal permits were available to treat the wild animals – and used effective rehabilitation practices, such as appropriate diets, caging, handling.
- The rehabilitators had effective previous relationships and communications with veterinarians that were available, successful with and willing to work with wildlife. These veterinarians were frequently well versed in holistic modalities.
- The rehabilitators were familiar with what was normal for the species and typical problems, and able to use that information to make decisions. For example, the rehabilitators knew such pertinent facts as a juvenile scrub jay should gape every 20 minutes; juvenile squirrels should grip the feeding syringe firmly; and ground squirrels may ingest rodenticides.
- The rehabilitators were open to using conventional and homeopathic treatments (e.g., heat, lactated ringer solution, Vitamin K, and homeopathic medicines) and used them appropriately and effectively.
- The rehabilitators were able to take the wild animal’s case (based on observation, not conversation or documented history), translate the animal’s symptoms to rubrics, repertorize, review the homeopathic medicines, select an appropriate medicine and potency, administer the medicine, and monitor results.
- The rehabilitators and veterinarians had the necessary resources: complete repertories and materia medicas, the necessary homeopathic medicines in a variety of potencies (including high enough to address severe, acute trauma in an animal with high vital force), and other necessary supplies (e.g., appropriate diets, cages, and conventional, supportive treatments).
- The rehabilitators and veterinarians already had a solid knowledge base of treatment practices, including standard allopathic and homeopathic principles and protocols. This is especially important in working with serious, acute cases when there is limited time available to treat the animal.
- Appropriate homeopathic medicines and potencies were selected and administered. The rehabilitator was able to effectively monitor changes in the animal’s condition so that the homeopathic medicine could be promptly repeated or changed if needed.
The case studies discussed above show the possibilities in treating some wildlife poisoning cases using homeopathy in conjunction with solid rehabilitation practices and appropriate allopathic treatments. Clearly, circumstances need to be such that the wild animals arrive for care when they are still able to recover. Additionally, preparation is needed in assuring the availability of knowledgeable, experienced, and permitted rehabilitators that are skilled in both conventional allopathic and homeopathic practices, as well as having access to veterinarians who are willing and available to work with wildlife on short notice. Preparation is one of the most important keys to being able to effectively treat acute, severe poisonings in wildlife.
** Wildlife rehabilitators provide aid to native wild animals so that they can be released back to the wild. While wildlife rehabilitation is a relatively young science, the knowledge base related to providing care to and effectively releasing wildlife is growing rapidly. Since state and federal laws regulate temporary possession of native wildlife, wildlife rehabilitators must have appropriate permits from the appropriate agencies. More complete information on what rehabilitation includes and how to become a rehabilitator is available at www.Ewildagain.org (see recruiting booklet).
Shirley and Allan Casey, licensed wildlife rehabilitators since 1986, live in Evergreen, Colorado. In partnership with homeopathic veterinarians, they have been publishing and conducting seminars and study groups on classical homeopathy in acute care for wildlife since 1997. Shirley presented on homeopathy with acute wildlife conditions at the annual conferences of the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy and the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, which were attended by veterinarians from the US and Canada. They founded WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc. in 1993. They conduct research, provide seminars and online training, and publish on topics related to wildlife health, rehabilitation practices, nutrition, facilities, conservation, regulations, and other wildlife topics available at www.ewildagain.org. They can be reached at [email protected].
Blackmer, R., A. Casey, and S. Casey. 1997. Beyond conventional allopathic medicine: options considered by wildlife rehabilitators. Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation, Winter: 7-13. www.Ewildagain.org.
Blackmer, R., J. Facinelli, A. Casey, and S. Casey. 1997. Exploring the concept of the minimum dose: wildlife rehabilitators consider homeopathy. Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation, Spring: 14-21. www.Ewildagain.org.
Blackmer, R., A. Casey, and S. Casey. 1999. Considering homeopathic first aid for wildlife. NWRA Quarterly Journal, Autumn: 14-16. www.Ewildagain.org.
Boericke, W. 1927. Materia Medica with Repertory. Boerike and Tafel, Santa Rosa, CA.
Casey, Allan and S. Casey. 2000. Survey of Conditions Seen in Wildlife Admitted for Wildlife Rehabilitation. Wildlife Rehabilitation – NWRA Conference Proceedings 2000, Saint Cloud, MN: 173-192.
Casey, S. and A. Casey. First Aid and Trauma Care for Wildlife Seminar. Two-day seminar offered to rehabilitators by WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation and homeopathic veterinarians at various locations. 303-670-3309. www.Ewildagain.org.
Casey, S. and A. Casey. 1998. Homeopathy and Wildlife Rehabilitation. Homeopathy Today, November: 24-25.
Casey, S. and A. Casey. 1998.Wildlife Rehabilitation and Holistic Veterinary Care. Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, May-June: 37-39.
Casey, S. and T. Bush. 2000. Homeopathic First Aid Used aid used with a Sample of Wildlife Cases. Wildlife Rehabilitation – NWRA Conference Proceedings 2000, Saint Cloud, MN: 67-74.
Facinelli, J., A. Casey, and S. Casey. 1997. Finding and Using Holistic Veterinary Services. Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation. Winter: 14-19.
Kent, J. T. 1945. Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica. Homeopathic Publications, New Delhi, India.
Murphy, Robin. Homeopathic Medical Repertory. 1996. Hahnemann Academy of North America. Durango, Colorado.
Schroyen, F. 1993. Synthesis: Repertorium Homeopathicum Syntheticum. Homeopathic Book Publishers. London, England.
Vermeulen, F. 1997. Concordant Materia Medica. Emryss bv Publishers, Haarlem, The Netherlands.
Therese Bush, Grizzly Flats, CA
Nancy Kelly, Pueblo, CO
Venice Kelly, Nederland, CO
** Wildlife rehabilitators provide temporary care for injured, orphaned, and distressed native wildlife so that those animals may survive when released back to the wild. Rehabilitators are required to have state, provincial, and often federal wildlife rehabilitation permits. The rehabilitators are trained, have special skills, use specialized diets and caging for the wildlife in rehabilitation, and work to minimize stress on these wild creatures. Rehabilitators seek to provide the highest quality of care by following professional standards, pursuing continuing education, and working closely with veterinarians. An increasing number of rehabilitators are pursuing holistic health care options for the wild animals that arrive with compromised health. For more information on wildlife rehabilitation, visit www.Ewildagain.org.
If you have found a wild animal that you believe needs help, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator for help in assessing if the animal really does need assistance and who would be available to provide effective help. If you do not know of a local rehabilitator, you can check for local rehabilitators on the internet or call animal rescue groups, veterinarians or conservation groups for a referral. Exercise caution since wild animals are just that: wild. Even small or young animals can cause serious injury or transmit diseases or parasites. Remember, wild animals need specialized care – and what actions might be appropriate for a pet may cause serious problems for a wild animal.