Friday, August 12, 2011

Merrilyn Loses Another Life - Merrilyn Part 17

Do kangaroos have "lives" like cats do you think?  If so Merrilyn has already used up two.  The first when she survived the impact of the motor vehicle that killed her mother and the second when she chased a wild kangaroo and ended up out over night when very small. (Gone in a Flash) and now, for a third time her life was in danger.

There are many diseases that can kill a kangaroo joey in care, but the two I fear most are coccidiosis and the other is something we call the blood parasite disease.  I don't think you want in depth detail here, so suffice to say coccidiosis is caused by a parasite and it can result in a very painful death and I lost three beautiful joeys to it very early in my caring career.  They had come to me after being very distressed by a violent thunderstorm and the carer they were with adding to their distress by putting them under a shower as they had been covered in mud and then the further stress of finding themselves in a new place with a new carer.  I didn't know enough then to know it was a recipe for disaster.  They were all dead in two weeks - their bodies over whelmed by the parasites as their immunity was weakened by stress.  I still cry to think of them.

Not a great photo, but this is them the day they arrived.
They were very ill within hours of this photograph being taken.

The blood parasite disease is yet to be properly identified, and a diagnosis can only be confirmed by an autopsy, so survivors may or may not have had this particular disease.  Again I had two joeys struck down by it in my early caring life.  One I saved, the other had to be put down as the parasite had reached her brain and she lost all coordination. 

Merrilyn had always been feisty and fit, and her overnight escapade showed she was tough, so it was with some horror that I found her very subdued one morning and though she came for a walk with me her breathing seemed harder than it should be and there were none of the usual sprints.  I cut short the walk and returned home.  When the symptoms of coccidiosis appear it is often already too late, so I gave her a dose of the medicine just in case and added two products to her milk that help strengthen the immune system, and was happy when she did still drink, even if not as enthusiastically as normal. For some reason Merrilyn had burrowed into my heart more than any other joey I'd raised - maybe that first 3 weeks of tending to her every two hours, twenty-four hours a day?

Merrilyn at 4kg.
Despite the medicine she didn't pick up. She took on a hang dog type look and her breathing was still quite noisy.  I gave her rehydration fluid and her poo was definitely off, though showed no signs of blood, which is a tell tale sign of coccidiosis.  I did not sleep much that first night and the next day she was no better, but thankfully she was also not worse.  She was inside a shelter and so I could see she had eaten little of the grass that had been left for her.  I checked her gums and they seemed paler than the previous day and another dark shadow crossed my path - the blood parasite disease caused anemia.  Could I give her a shot of the medicine we use for the blood parasite disease on top of the coccidiosis medicine?  It's clear to me that kangaroos often deteriorate under modern medicine and I think it's because it can destroy the gut flora that they need to survive, so I am always hesitant to dose up unnecessarily, but there was no way to tell if her problem was the blood parasite and if it was...  I rang all the carers I could think of who might know and as usual advice varied.  One of the major problems we have is wildlife care is so much trial and error.  Yes we do know a lot, but there's so much more that remains a mystery.
Merrilyn would not eat grass and she would not take a bottle - something totally unheard of in this gorgeous creature who adored her bottle!

So what to do?  When some more poo arrived it was desiccated - something else I'd seen with the blood parasite and so now I didn't hesitate.  I took out the syringe and gave her the jab and then called to whoever the greater power is in this life to give this beautiful creature a chance to survive.

As big as she was I popped her back into a pouch and held her
and tried to think of other things I could do to bring her through.

It took a week of coaxing her to eat, a little at a time, and quiet care, and then her energy increased and I knew she'd make it through.  I don't believe it was coccidiosis.  Did she have the blood parasite disease?  I think it is likely, though we'll never know for sure.  I'm just pleased that she made it through!  Joeys - as they survive, years are taken off my life!

A request.  Please check your profile to make sure your blog shows up if I click on your follow icon or comment.  I have a few people I'd love to follow back and read their blogs but I cannot find my way to them.... help.  So if I seem rude drop me an email,, and let me know how to find you.  Many thanks and thanks so much for following and commenting - it makes my day!
Also the blog has collected another award.

The goal of the award is to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers.(That's me though I have cracked the 100 mark now!)

The rules of the award are:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun!
So firstly my grateful thanks to Carrie Butler at So, You're a Writer  This is a great new blog that carries some seriously good information for writers as well as some very unique and fun posts.  Well worth a look.

And also to Lady Gwen of Run Gwen Run.  I think I first met Lady Gwen, who by the way combines running and writing to make for a very interesting blog, through the Favourite Book Blog Fest and as she approaches her first blogoversary she's creating a blog fest of her own that you may like to join in on. (It's a very clever judge and jury blog fest running in early September.    Here's her first post about it so you can join in the fun. As I was preparing to give this award to her, she gave it to me!

So who to pass the award on to?

 1) Bryce of The Bryce Daniels Preservation Society.  I always think of Bryce in red shoes - well he hails from Kansas!  He's gathered an amazing number of followers in his blog's short history and many of us want to see who wins out - the novelist or the poet!

2) Jo Bryant of Chronicles of Illusion. Now Jo lives across the ditch from me.  Which is Australian for saying she lives in New Zealand.  Quite a few interesting snippets to be found on this blog!

3) Ms Mouse of Ms Mouse Cleans House definitely deserves an award.  Anyone teaching cats to use a real toilet, instead of a litter box needs an award!

4) Mrs Catch of Catch is my fourth choice - and these come in no order of merit! With a tag line of "Catching the sweetness in life" this is a place to go to enjoy and be serene - well most of the time... (She's also a fellow Aussie!)

No number 5 as that was Lady Gwen and as I have two people to thank I think that's enough for you all to run round if you have the time.  Thanks again, to Carrie and Lady Gwen for the award!  "Talk" to you all next Friday with more adventures from Merrilyn and the musketeers! 

I've also attached this post to Lovelinks #19.  Take a peek.


  1. I'm so glad she survived. What a horrible disease to have. How do these little guys manage to survive in the wild? They seem to need your constant care and supervision. Congrats on the Liebster! :)

  2. Oh Cheryl, I am so glad she is doing better. I wait each week for an update, always a little anxious that something will have happened. Give her a hug from the crazy lady over the ditch, and tell her I think of her every day. And thanks you so much dfor including me in this. I am really touched and honoured. Funny how we both thought of it the same week - busy beavers we shall be.

  3. Poor little Merrilyn! I'm so relieved to hear she is doing better.

    Oh, and you're very welcome. You're such an interesting blogger, and you're a wonderful advocate for wildlife. The award was well deserved. :)

  4. That Merrilyn is a survivor for sure! You are a very dedicated and gifted care giver for these wonderful creatures in your part of the world. I may only ever see them in a zoo or on TV, but I will never forget how you take care of them and how fragile they really are. Thanks for the education.

  5. Glad Merrilyn was OK. The facts about wildlife caring are fascinating. Carers sure have to be dedicated.

    Thanks for the award. I too am struggling to make the rounds and keep up with the writing. Nice to know someone enjoys the effort!

  6. That was a relief to know she's okay. And Congrats on another award! You sure are popular around Bloggyland, kangaroo lady!

  7. So glad she's getting better. She's lucky to have you for her carer.

    FYI: I'm having some issues with my blogger account. It's not letting me leave comments on a handful of blogs, including this one. So I'm using the URL option instead. That address is a valid link back to my blog. Thanks, Linda

  8. Thank you Cheryl for the award! It was a first for me and exciting to then pass it on to others.

  9. Cheryl!!!!

    Thank you so much for the award. I've been away from Blogger, being in the middle of a move from Kansas to Texas over here in the states. (Guess the ruby red slippers will have to go.)

    I will post this exciting news in the very near future over at the Society.

    Glad to see that Merrilyn pulled through! And as always, thanks so much for all you do for these adorable creatures.

  10. I had no idea joeys could be so fragile. Are there no vets to call for help? I love reading about Merrilyn - she feels like a real part of my life because of your great stories.

    Congrats on another well-deserved award!

  11. Wow, what an interesting read. They must be just amazing to work with. And thank goodness she pulled through!

  12. Happy to hear Merrilyn is on the mend. Cats have nine and are much smaller. I think we have a few more lives to spare.

  13. Merrilyn is so cute wrapped in her pouch - I'm sure she loved it - just what she needed to get well.
    P.S. Thanks for the blog love

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  15. Kangaroos are really cute. Look at the little baby one. It is totally melting my heart!


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