Bobwhite quail with blackened, swollen lame leg from deeply embedded leg band (UPDATED w/ pics) - he

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by legbandproblem, Mar 6, 2012.

  1. legbandproblem

    legbandproblem Hatching

    Mar 6, 2012
    Hi all
    3 days ago I noticed one of my pet Bobwhite quail wasn't running away like the rest when I approached the pen, but I didn't think too much of it. then this evening I noticed the same thing except when I finally got him to move he'd hop on one leg or half hop/half fly instead of walking. after a lot of effort I managed to catch him and turn him upside down to get a look and it seems that the spiral band on his right leg has become deeply embedded in the flesh about a half inch above his foot and his leg and foot are very swollen as a result, probably to double the size of his left leg. I'm not sure what to do about it now, though...I can't get a hold of any part of the spiral band with my fingers since it's on there so tight and his leg is so swollen that it sticks out about a quarter inch further than the band on either side. It also looks that some skin has actually grown over the band as well, although it was hard to tell since he was struggling so much.

    This is what the leg band looks like:


    I separated him from the rest of the quail and right now I have him inside the house in a pet carrier with straw, food and water. I called various vets in the area to see if they might be able to help or offer some advice but they were all either closed for the night or didn't deal with birds. I'll call again tomorrow morning when they re-open but there aren't really any avian vets in the area so I'm not sure how much help they'll be. What can I do for him? I'm not sure how to remove the leg band myself since it's so difficult to's hard plastic and not easily cut, especially when none of it is loose enough for me to get a pair of scissors or nail clippers around it. also, as you might expect, it's difficult if not impossible to hold him still without him frantically thrashing around, kicking his legs and trying to escape and fly away so I'm afraid I'll just injure him further by doing the wrong thing. any help or advice would be much appreciated!!

    My other quail have spiral leg bands as well but I haven't seen any of them with this problem. They've had them on for a year now and were already 1 year old when I first put them on so I didn't think they'd grow too much more between then and now...I do check them from time to time but have never seen any problems and never any limping before now so I'm not sure why just this one had this happen or why it's only been noticeable recently :/

    **3/10/12 - Check reply for updates and pics of leg**
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012

  2. hendersonrph

    hendersonrph In the Brooder

    Jan 28, 2012
    I'm not sure if this will work, but you need to get the band off asap. Circulation can be an issue now so I suggest getting a very sharp knife, scalpel or some sort of blade. You may want to soak the leg in warm water to help soften the skin, this is very tough. Have someone hold him and cut between the doubled part of the band (not too deep) all the way around the band, then take the pointed end of a knife and try to pry the band up away from the skin. You may cause it to bleed a little but try to cut only the hard surface of the skin. Once you have peeled the leg band away completely, dry any water or blood and cover wound with triple antibiotic cream ( you may want to ask a vet what is best) I think its ok to use Neosporin. Then wrap it (snug, not tight) with gauze and tape and change it out about every other day until the wound is healed. Like I said, this may work to get the band off but I'm not sure. Good luck. If you can post a picture, it will help us help you to do the right thing. Hope it works for you. You also might want to ask someone about an antibiotic to give it in its water for infection just for precautions.

    P.S. Once you lift the band a little at a time, you might see if you can snip it off as you go around the leg.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2012
  3. legbandproblem

    legbandproblem Hatching

    Mar 6, 2012
    Thanks for the reply; thought I'd provide some updates and pictures...
    I took him to a vet the morning after I made this post and the vet was able to remove the leg band with the aid of some special tools. The leg bled when the band was removed which the vet said was a good sign. The vet put on some antibiotic cream called Silvadene and told me to keep the bird separate from the rest inside the dog crate for the time being until the leg heals and to clean the wound twice daily and re-apply the Silvadene cream (she didn't put any gauze over the leg). She said that a few of the toes looked black and might fall off but didn't know if the foot itself would die and fall off as well. She also said the most critical time was the first 2 or 3 days and that was when to watch for infection or the foot turning black and falling off -- she thought there was a 50/50 chance the bird would make it over the next few days. It's now been 3 days since then and he's still alive and has become increasingly active inside his dog crate. Before he would just lay there and not move but now he seems to be walking around more and today seems to be walking around on that leg better than he has been. He's also been eating the food I put in there for him which I take to be a good sign.

    The leg band was removed at the vet's office on Wednesday morning and the leg looked a lot better by Wednesday night and Thursday morning. However, on Thursday night the area where the leg band was had begun to turn black about 1/4 of the way around. On Friday morning it was black 1/2 way around. I called the vet on Friday morning and asked about this and was told it could be one of three things...first, that the foot was dying, which would be bad. Second, that the tissue under the skin was dying but that this was normal and didn't necessarily mean trouble, or third, that it was blood collecting underneath the surface of the skin and also was normal. In any case, she advised taping some gauze around the wound over the cream to keep in moisture, which I did. I took pictures of the leg last night (Friday night) and will send them to the vet today and see what she has to say after seeing them, but I thought it might help to share them here as well (click for full)




    Here are the same pictures at 100% size (note: very large, might take a while to load on slow connections)

    You can clearly see the indentation where the leg band was...the only thing that's changed in the last three days has been the blackness that's formed along part of that indentation. The toes and everything else still look the same.
    If anyone cares to weigh in on this or offer any tips or advice it would still be much appreciated. Thanks again!!
  4. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    Great pics. Thanks for the reminder about leg bands needing to be checked every so often for fit.

    The bird is obviously going to lose those dessicated toes, but the rest of the foot looks healthy. A great many birds go on to live full lives with only part of a foot (or no foot at all). I hope yours continues to improve.

    Good luck.

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