As if all my recent troubles were not enough, I am now coping with avian pox creeping slowly through my flock. Some have gotten very mild cases, blessedly, while others, like Bob the Japanese Banty, have really wrestled with it. Bob had one eye crusted shut for a few weeks, and has been living in the bathroom, much to the disgust of my family. He finally has both eyes back, and is none the worse for wear, except that his former handsome glory is still marred by crusty scabs.
Fuzzy Jr., however, is the first one to have BOTH eyes swollen/crusted shut. He cannot see at all, and I am having trouble keeping him hydrated and fed. The poor dummy seems frantic to eat and drink, but the way he approaches the job makes it virtually impossible to get food and water into him!
If I happen to accidentally contact him, in the process of getting nourishment close to him, he backs and turns away. Once he realizes what I am doing, he will begin to stab wildly at his surroundings, looking for the offering, but as he does so, he pivots, so that he nearly always misses the mark. Of course, if I try to chase his beak with it, I seem unable to keep from panicking him with an accidental bump. The poor guy must be terrified! But it is hard not to be frustrated with him.
I have tried simply surrounding him with food and drink, in a circle, but unless he actually gets as taste of what is there, he will not begin seeking it. And, of course, the getting him to taste it causes his escape dance.
I have tried, also, wrapping him in a towel, and putting the food directly into this mouth, but so intense is his fear when confined like this, that I have not had the heart to keep it up. When he has his sight, he is a pretty friendly bird. But this blindness has him really frightened, understandably. He is still quite young, not yet six months, I would say, and so he does not know me well enough yet (as Bob does) to really trust me.
I don't think we are at the tube-feeding stage yet. It is just that, Bob's illness has lasted so long, that I am afraid Fuzzy Jr. will follow the same path. Getting him fed and watered takes so very long, that I am neglecting other tasks. It is not so bad, in the short term, but if this goes on for weeks and weeks, I don't know that my husband will tolerate it.
I have tried soaking his eyes with a warm, wet cloth, and applying ointment, to soften the scabs, but he gets pretty frantic over this as well. I fear injuring him, or causing him to injure himself, if I soak him long enough to actually do the job. To date, I have not succeeded in soaking the eyes open.
Thoughts? Ideas? Experiences? I will appreciate them all. Well, all but "take him to the vet." We cannot possibly afford that, and my family will scream, "it is just a chicken, for goodness sake!" You and I know that there is no such thing as "just" a chicken, but I am a lone voice crying in the wilderness, on that topic, in my home.
Thank you for any input!
This is Bob, as he was, mid-illness.