A afternoon of chemical immobilisation… (Day 389)

Blow dart wild animal immobilisation vet student

Today’s Diary Entry Sponsored by Supreme Pet Foods

So this afternoon I was invited out by a doctor to join in on some distance anaesthesia, in other words darting some animals. Now with my goal of working with wildlife this was an opportunity I just could not pass up and so jumped straight into it. Today the doctor had been asked to assist with the transport of some bulls, and two cows who were apparently too dangerous to move without sedation.

Now this was also a new one for me, as bull’s are no longer the most common animal to come across in the UK with the advent of artificial insemination. They generally have a bad reputation and are classed as dangerous animals to keep on a farm with high insurance costs etc. I was a little unsure when the doctor just went walking across the field like it was a stroll in the park, just with 4 bulls in it. Now I know that it is a common misconception that bulls go for the colour red, however this is not true and instead it is the movement that attracts the attention of the bull. Praying this was true I set off across the field after the doctor to dart the first bull.

Blow dart wild animal immobilisation vet student

Something I absolutely love about studying here in Slovakia is how in order to keep things affordable doctors improvise otherwise expensive items. Today we used a blow pipe with darts, now the blow pipe itself with a complete kit cost just 50 euros, however it comes with limited darts so the doctor actually made his own darts to be used with it as well.

So probably the most important part of distance anaesthesia is the weight of the dart, so to reduce the weight of the dart its important to try to use really high concentration drugs. Today we used a specially imported drug version that is used in zoo’s, with xylazine at 100mg/ml instead of the normal 20mg/ml which is 5 times more powerful for the same amount (and same weight). The sedation worked really well as did the homemade darts, something I’ve learnt today that I can apply anywhere with a scalpel blade and a little glue.

When sedating cows and bulls it is also important that they either are in sternal recumbancy or on their right side to protect the rumen which lays on the left side of the body.

Today we worked with a team of 10 men to move the 400kg+ animals once they were sedated, and it all went without a hitch… Well until the last one when the first two were waking up and trying to escape. I got taught how to tie the legs in rodeo style which was pretty cool and something that I’ve tucked away for if I ever need it in future.