Possum attack and now my hen can't bear weight on one leg

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by alandmark, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. alandmark

    alandmark In the Brooder

    May 7, 2010
    I have a 9 mo. Delaware hen who was grabbed by a possum Monday night. My husband came home to her being dragged out of the coop, just in time to save her, but she was pretty badly injured. She had a big gash on the back of her neck, a flap of skin was peeled back, but there was little blood and didn't appear to have any deep tissue damage. She also had some bite marks on her leg joint, right where the feathers stop and the scales begin. It was bleeding a little bit. She was bearing weight on both legs then, but by the morning couldn't put weight on the one that was bit and has been laying down ever since. And by that next evening, her entire foot and leg had swelled up. I treated all of the wounds with iodine and they seem to be healing. No signs of infection anyway. She's eating some and has normal looking poop, maybe a bit on the dry side but good sized. I've been giving her some apples, carrots and cheerios in addition to her normal feed, which she seems to love. I have her in my basement in a large dog crate on newspaper bedding that I've been changing regularly to keep her dry and clean. She doesn't move much though, so it's been staying really clean. I've also been keeping it somewhat dark so she stays quiet. The temp is a consistent 50-55 degrees.

    Since Tuesday, her condition hasn't really changed much. She's alert and eats the treats I give her, but still can't put any weight on one leg. Swelling hasn't gotten worse, but it also hasn't gotten any better, and I can't really tell if she can even move her toes. It definitely hurts her if I try to move her leg at the joint.

    If her leg is broken, is there much chance for a decent recovery? And should I be doing anything else to help her? I've been reading other emergency posts about feeding aspirin so I think I'll start that tomorrow to help with the pain.

    Thank you for any insight you can share!

  2. msdoolittle

    msdoolittle Songster

    Dec 28, 2009
    Keep doing what you are doing, but you need to add a heat source. Stressed birds heal quicker and are more comfortable when they have an external heat source. Typically, you want to shoot for about 80 degrees ambient temp. Obviously, since she cannot move right now, you don't want to get her too hot and cause heat stress. I use a good heat lamp (red bulb) and also use a digital thermometer as my guide to get the temps just right. You will need to make sure that the lamp cannot be knocked over or too close to anything...safety first, right?

    Since she was able to put weight on it previously, I would see this as a good sign...it should mean that there is no major nerve damage. I would baby her until the swelling recedes, hopefully at which point she will become mobile again.

    Good luck!
  3. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    I got this info from an avian vet - crush 1/4 regular aspirin (or 1/2 baby aspirin) into 1 cup of water. Once the pain and swelling go down, hopefully she'll be able to put weight on it again. Good luck.

    ETA: and I'd put neosporin on the neck wound.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2011
  4. alandmark

    alandmark In the Brooder

    May 7, 2010
    Ok, I'll definitely add some heat. My husband and I were talking about putting a heater near her originally, but since she's been out in the cold, I wasn't sure if it would be too much of a shock to her system. Thank you for the advice!
  5. CrzyChicLady

    CrzyChicLady Chirping

    Oct 28, 2010
    A friend of mine moved and brought some of his chickens over for me to adopt. He got them at night when they went to roost and just put them in my coop. When I checked on them the next day the RIR hen had a hurt leg. There was no sign of blood but looked swollen. I still don't know what happen but that was months ago. She stays in the coop most of the time but has recently been hopping out. She doesn't use that leg and hops on her one good leg. I imagine she's pretty vunerable to preditors but seems to get along fine. I hope your hen will get the use of her leg back. Seems like you are taking very good care of her! Keep us posted.

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