Update on the velociraptor

Holy moley it is getting cold! I had to go out to the commissary every three hours last night to replenish Hedwig’s hot water bottle. And this morning I am wearing a jersey and wrapped up in a thick scarf.

But I have some good news to report – Hedwig is acting more and more like herself! Last night she was very perky and cuddly. She laid on my chest as we watched Queer Eye on Netflix, she definitely has a crush on Antoni too, she told me. When I put her down in her box next to my bed, she started squawking up a storm. I peered over the edge of the bed and she was starring straight up at me and got all excited that I had acknowledged her. I put my hand down in her box and she snuggled up to it and promptly fell asleep. Her appetite last night was also really good and nearly on par with her normal equivalent of a starving t-rex.

And this morning she finally passed a pellet! Which is great news because it means all of her internal stuff is operating normally! For those that do not know, owls eat whole prey – bones, skin, fur and all. But their stomachs cannot process bones and fur so they regurgitate the bones and fur in the form of a pellet.

She is still a bit floppy however and has difficulty staying upright.

You can see here that her legs sort of crisscross over each other, which is not good. Also if you are not supporting her upright or if she is not nestled into her nest in a way that props her up, she flops over onto her side and flails her legs all around still. I have been chatting with some bird vets and raptor rehabbers all around the world and we are trying to devise a homemade splint for Hedwig so that her bones can all grow normally with her. And boy is she growing fast! She is now extra fluffy with little with down feathers to the point that I think even normal people might start calling her ‘cute’ – at least people won’t call her a vulture anymore!

This is the start of her homemade splint, I will post more photos as soon as I figure out the best way for it to sit on her. Shame, Hedwig is such a trooper even though she is quite confused by this thing.

Owl in a sock anyone?

I will figure out the best design… luckily Hedwig is patient through all of the trail and errors…

A Quick Update

This little girl is a fighter. Hedwig is still with us, though it has been a really tough couple of days. Unfortunately, she has not made much improvement, but she does seem to allow me to force feed her a bit easier – I think she understands that I am trying to help. So I am at least getting some more substance into her. I have chatted with raptor rehabbers and captive breeders all around the world and so far no one seems to be able to diagnose what is wrong from afar and getting to a vet is not really an option here. For now, all I can do is just keep trying. As long as Hedwig is willing to keep fighting, so am it.

On a side note – The weather here has no clue what it wants to do. Yesterday was 33 and quite warm, almost hot and then today it is probably only about 20-21, I am currently bundled up in a jersey and Hedwig is sleeping away on a hot water bottle. I know most of you are from America and are heading into summer now, well we are the opposite and are getting ready for winter. Though I was chatting with my sister and her family on Sunday and it sounds like right now the weather here is nearly the same as in Maryland. I hope it does not get too cold here in winter though – all my winter clothes are at my house in Joburg!

A downward turn

Already more than a week has gone by and so much has happened for little Hedwig. We have really bonded, she lays on my chest and watches The Crown on Netflix with me and has even gotten to the point where she asks for cuddles and seems to enjoy being close to me. She knows the sound of my voice and will cheep and peep when she hears me talking and always seems to know when I first start to move as I wake up in the middle of the night for one of her feedings. She is also getting so much fluffier! And the down fluff is so incredibly soft.

Well, Hedwig was doing great and getting fluffier and so much bigger so fast, but everything took a drastic turn for the worst on Sunday. On Sunday she ate her noon feeding (rabbit meat from the Maputo butcher) really well and had a big appetite. But then Sunday evening she only ate a small amount and I figured it was just because she ate so much at noon. Monday morning, she was laying on her side and could not right herself at all and refused to eat anything. She then let out a massive very dark and stinky poo which I thought was probably the reason she did not eat. But after the poo she seemed to have crashed even more. She stopped peeping and making noise and could not even hold her head up much less the rest of her body. I spoke to our wildlife vet, but he has more experience with lions than birds. He instructed me to give her a sugar water solution to keep her hydrated. I did that throughout the day and also tried to mash up some meat as finely as I could to see if I could maybe get that through a syringe but did not have much luck. Sometimes having no access to supplies makes simple things very difficult.

Monday evening, Ellery gave me some human calcium tablets since possibly being calcium deficient was the only thing we could think of to cause this. I crushed up the calcium tablet and mixed a diluted form of that in with the sugar solution and continued to keep her warm and hydrated. I honestly had little hope that she would survive the night. I would check on her every few hours expecting to find that she had past, only to be amazed to hear these little “cheep, cheeps” coming from her nest at the sound of my voice. It breaks my heart that she tries so hard to respond to me even though she is extremely weak.

Around 03:30 this morning I finally manged to get some food in her. She ate a small mouse leg and a little bit of squirrel meat, but only 1/4 of what she normally would eat at a meal. Around 06:30 I was able to get her to eat the other mouse hind leg, but that was it. I have continued with the calcium sugar solution throughout the day. She is pooping normally (including ALL over me once today) and is looking a bit perkier, but still cannot hold her own body upright. If I support her upright, she now will hold her head up on her own. Both of her eyes are more open and she seems a bit more aware today than she did yesterday, but her body is still extremely floppy and she will flail her legs around. Ugh. I hate feeling so helpless, I wish I knew how to make things right for her. I have contacted a few raptor and owl centres around the world hoping someone might have seen this before and knows the answers on how we can help this little soul get better.