What’s the Weirdest Animal Treated by Downe Vets?
A question that I often get asked at parties is “What’s the weirdest animal you have treated?” When asked this question, I often pause, knock back my cosmopolitan cocktail and start picking my teeth with the little umbrella from the glass. I need this stitch in time because there have been many weird and wonderful animals to cross our threshold.
We could start with the wombat. One night one of our loyal clients presented us with a truly strange beast for Lecale. When he walked into the clinic all I could see was a long leathery tail hanging over his shoulder. Draped around his neck was a giant wombat, wheezing away like he had just smoked 40 cigarettes and finished Jimmy’s 10K in record time. As far as I could tell the nearest animal we have to this antipodean import is the large black rat. Thankfully we were able to cure this beast’s pneumonia with drugs commonly used in dogs and cats. He made a full recovery.
On another occasion I was called out to assess a lion. Yes, you read that correctly dear reader, a lion. In Downpatrick. The circus had come to town and one of the show lions was poorly. Unfortunately he was old and beyond my help. It became apparent that his suffering needed to end and I needed to put him to sleep. This posed a problem: how does one put a lion to sleep? I was considering discovering my inner Magnum-PI when one of the handlers piped up “Fluffy is really quite civilized”. “Fluffy” was indeed very civilized and permitted me to help him shuffle off his mortal coil with the minimum of fuss. Lions are basically cousins of our domestic cats and this cat particular cat was a big softy.
I could go on but space is limited. Finally, I got a call on April Fool’s Day many moons ago. A python had swallowed a yard brush, handle first. I thought someone was pulling my leg. But no, this was true. I had to perform a house call as apparently snake + brush does not equal the space available in the back of a Renault 5. I arrived at the house and all I could see was an 9 foot snake with the bristles of a brush sticking out of its mouth. The solution was in fact simple: one person held the brush and two of us gently pulled the snake off the handle. It made a full recovery.
As you may have picked up from reading this article, there are many weird and wonderful beasts in Lecale. You never know what’s just up the street from you. As vets we are trained in comparative anatomy and physiology. Just because we have never seen an animal before, this does not mean that we don’t know what to do. Many animals are closely related and the treatment that works in one species will often work with another. It has been a privilege to work with so many species over the years, and it definitely makes me more interesting at parties!