First aid for lorises and pottos
A) First judgement of a given situation (animal found, brought)
B) Initial help, also by non-veterinarians; safety considerations before handling animals
Measures against shock and stress
Collection of data and samples by non-veterinarian first helpers
C) Quarantine, inital veterinary treatment in rescue facilities
Need for an initial recovery period
D) Examination, treatment, rehabilitation
Drafts for form sheets for first and final examination
Initial explanation of some terms
used here to avoid
(partly based on IUCN information and Griffith et al. 1998, see also reintroduction chapter):
Helper: see above
Rehabilitation: here used for the process of restoring an animal´s health, behavioural training and other measures prior to release
Translocation: transport of organisms or populations from one part of their range to another:
Conservation / benign introduction: an attempt to establish a species, for the purpose of conservation, within an appropriate habitat and eco-geographical area, but outside its recorded distribution area.
Reintroduction: an attempt to establish a species in an area which was once part of its historical range, but from which it had been extirpated or become extinct. (This term is sometimes used in a wider sense, including rehabilitation prior to release and monitoring after release).
Re-inforcement, Supplementation: addition of individuals to an existing population of conspecifics.
Release: used here for the process of release into the wild (preparations and later monitoring not included). May represent a part of a controlled procedure with rehabilitation and later monitoring, but also uncontrolled release of animals possibly sick or taxonomically not properly determined, with resultig danger of disease transmission or introduction of alien fauna.
A 2) Adult animal found in the wild,
be sick / needing help:A loris or potto may need help if
it has severe
wounds, if it is dragging one or two legs or if limbs are
missing or burnt
(frequent after contact with power lines). Animals which show
problems, which are obviously unable to climb a tree or have
by a domestic cat (even if they seem fine) might as well
Finally animals will need help if they are caught in traps or
wire or thread (based on Ruth 2000; V. Perera, pers. comm.,
one of us: U. Streicher, and other sources, adapted).
If so, see
In pygmy slow lorises during cold weather occurrence of torpor has been observed (one of us: U. Streicher, thesis in preparation; K.-H. Schweigert, pers. comm.). A lethargic state of limited duration in a well-nourished animal might turn out to be be normal in this species.
A 3) Animals illegally offered for sale at
trader or on a market:
Buying animals means supporting trade and will cause much more misery than it prevents. It increases the demand and encourages hunting. It is more helpful to inform the local authorities or a rescue station (see rescue station list) (see rescue station list) to initiate correct confiscation procedures.
A 4) If an animal is found in an area not
to the natural distribution area of the species,
it may be a wrongly released animal from trade or an escaped or disposed pet. Taking the local legal regulations into consideration, capture of the animal with a minimum of distress may be tried (see under B 2); contacting the wildlife department or any other relevant authority or a primate rescue facility may be better since they have the expertise and equipment to recapture such an animal, the possibility to further take care of it legally or to assure return to the country from which it was smuggled. See rescue station list.
Initial help for wild animals in general, before transport
to a veterinarian
or rescue facility
The following part includes information for people who want to help an animal, but have no experience with animals or veterinary work
Dehydration (see also above, B 5, first aid by non-veterinarians)
Sunken eyes with visible nictating membranes and loss of skin elasticity are signs of dehydration.
Treatment: offering rehydration solution or Ringer´s solution (Ruth 2000); in severe cases initially daily subcutaneous or intraperitoneal injection of Ringer´s solution (up to 10% of body weight) for stabilizing metabolism (one of us: U. Streicher, thesis in preparation). If available, use for instance Amynin by Merial GmbH, Am Söldnermoos 6, 85399 Hallbergmoos, Germany (comparable products available elsewhere?), which contains glucose for additional energy supply and important amino acids (the amino acid Methionin for instance may reduce the danger of fatty liver syndrome which is often fatal in lorises under severe stress and has other protective effects) (R. Plesker, pers. comm.; K. Petry, pers. comm.; Spona and Spona 2000).
Notation of observed symptoms such as:
Trunk: wounds, condition of fur, signs of diarrhoea, nutritional state, skin indicating dehydration (see above, B 5)? Sickish odor? (Fear scent in a frightened loris is normal). Weight.
Limbs (also comparison of left and right limb to detect inconspicuous changes): swellings, lesions, fractures, burns, scalds?
Head: eyes bright or sunken, runny, swollen, crusty, closed or open? Response to light, visible movement? Abnormal movements of the head? Neck? Ear openings and nostrils clean, free of parasites or maggots? Is there a discharge? Muzzle: abnormal shape indicating absense of teeth or abscesses affecting tooth roots? Open wounds on dorsum of muzzle indicating breach of an abscess? (See photos below).
Mouth: gums, lips pale (possible sign of internal bleeding, anaemia or shock), dirt, objects or blood inside, tooth or jaw damage, inflammation / infection of gums?
Teeth: in lorises confiscated from
trade, often the teeth are ripped or broken out (own
observation, H. Fitch-Snyder,
pers. comm., F. den Haas, pers. comm.). This is done to
from defending themselves before selling them as pets, and
to cheat buyers, pretending to offer toothless baby lorises to
higher prize than for adult animals (Jakarta Post, 2003).
Removal of teeth
with plyers on the market, without anesthesia or subsequent
has been observed (R. Kess, P. Troni, pers. comm.). As a
confiscated or escaped from trade often have wounds and severe
in the oral cavity which, without antibiotic treatment, may
lead to the
death of the animals (F. den Haas, pers. comm.). Subsequent
of alveoli (tooth root channels) may cause abscesses which may
the bone (F. den Haas, pers. comm.) and may cause open wounds
on top of
the muzzle (H. Fitch-Snyder, pers. comm., see photos below).
|Left: treatment of a confiscated slow loris in Jakarta whose teeth have been ripped out. Photo: H. Schulze. Middle, right: slow lorises showing superficial traces of abscesses on the muzzle. Such lesions can be the result of infections spreading along the tooth root channels after removal of the teeth. Photos: WildAid / MoE Cambodia, H. Fitch-Snyder.|
Treatment of confiscated animals whose teeth had been
Broken tooth remnants must be removed from the alveoli under anesthesia. In lorises, fine instruments and some practical experience will be necessary for properly doing this (one of us: U. Streicher). If no veterinarian with specific oral surgery and/or clinical dental knowledge is available, treatment by unskilled caretakers should be restricted to cautious cleaning of the oral cavity from broken or hanging dental parts which can easily be removed with the fingers, and the animals´ ability to heal the damage from within with the help of their own immune system should be supported by providing good housing, tasty food that can easily be eaten or lapped up without teeth during the healing process, a lot of rest in cages with natural cover, systemic antibiotics and some mild analgesic (David A. Fagan, The Colyer Institute, pers. comm.). (Soft food which, however, does not stick to the gums or gets into open wounds, supporting development of bacteria? Maybe minced, soft food with antibiotics added, consolidated with gelatin?)
Some more information for skilled veterinarians: as long as visible wounds in the oral cavity are not healed, the gums must be rinsed with antiseptic solution every day to remove food remnants and prevent or treat infections. Beta blockers, given about 15 minutes before this procedure, may help to reduce stress. Suppurating abscesses along tooth alveoli (see photos) may be present. In such cases, dead tissue and pus must be removed. For treatment of tooth root abscesses in rabbits, Avery Bennett (1999) recommends to start antibiotic treatment prior to any surgery and do skull radiographs under anesthesia to assess the extent of affected tissue. A bacterial culture from the wall of the abscess may help to determine the resistance against antibiotics (bacteria within the pus in the middle of the abscess are often dead). If there is no possibility to determine effect of antibiotics in culture, antibiotic treatment should be correlated to the clinical signs; when treatment turns out to be inefficient, another antibiotic treatment with a different spectrum of efficiency must be given (R. Plesker, pers. comm.; Avery Bennett 1999).
One technique for treating an abscess is to leave it open and allow pus to leak out, rinsing the cavity with antiseptic solution such as dilute chlorhexidine or dilute povidone iodine 2-3 times daily until healthy granulation tissue is present. According to Avery Bennett´s rabbit study, in abscesses of the head it is important not to drain the abscess into the oral cavity, if possible; this would result in poor and delayed wound healing. Treatment may be supported by use of enzymes after rinsing to help clean the wound of dead tissues, fibrinous slough and pus, such as papain/urea (which digests dead protein matter and liquefies pus, but is harmless to viable tissue; for instance Accuzyme) or trypsin (which digests collagen fibre remnants; for instance Santyl, Leukase, Ixurol). Leukase in cone shape for implantation by Merck, Wien, for instance combines antibiotic, analgetic and enzymatic effects. Papain or trypsin should be used according to operating instructions, and not in combination with commercially available non-enzyme wound cleaners. Treatment with an antibiotic cream or ointment should be continued until the inflammation is gone and the wound is well epithelialized (for at least 10 days, but usually longer; tooth root abscesses tend to reappear). This kind of treatment, however, means frequent handling and considerable distress for a wild animal.
Another technique used to treat rabbit abscesses involves surgical removal of the abscess, tooth remnants and infected tissue under full anesthesia and subsequent implantation of antibiotic impregnated polymethyl methacrylate beads (AIPMMA) into the clean abscess cavity, where they will locally release antibiotic for up to five years. Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) is a synthetic polymer substance most often used as bone cement, the beads need not be removed, they heal into the jaw bone. A big advantage of this method is that wound can be closed and no further treatment is necessary, which means a minimum of distress, it also helps minimize use of oral anibiotics (Avery Bennett 1999; Jenkins). Further reading about antibiotic granules: see Tobias et al.1996 (see below: references).
Lorises lacking full dentition might, even after successful treatment, have lasting problems with food consumption. Inability of the animals to chew properly or to defend themselves must be considered both in diet and group composition in rescue facilities; housing lorises with and without teeth together might cause problems. But observations in this regard are still lacking. Inability to gauge holes into tree bark to lick up the sap, which in the wild is an important part of the diet (Wiens 2002), is certainly impossible without teeth. The ability of such animals to survive in the wild after release should be examined, maybe release on islands or in large semi-free enclosures and supplementation with adequate food remains the only option for their longterm survival.
Tobias, K. M.; Schneider, R. K.;
E., 1996: Use of antimicrobial-impregnated
. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 208 (6): 841-5.
Jakarta Post, 2002: Tricks of the protected animal trade. http://www.orangutansonline.com/articles/article108.htm. 27 August 2002. Seen 30 March 2003
Jenkins, J. R.: New Bead Treatment for Jaw Abscesses. http://www.rabbit.org/chapters/san-diego/health/vet-talk/beadtherapy.html. Undated information in the house rabbit society website, http://www.rabbit.org/, Vet Talk pages by Dr. Jeffrey Jenkins. Seen 24 February 2004.
Kingdon, J., 1997: The Kingdon Field Guide to
Academic Press, London.
Loris and related species: health
Last amendment: 9 December 2004
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