Lace Monitor swallows more than he can chew

Lace Monitor swallows more than he can chew

#Animals, #Sydney Wildlife Hospital, #Rehabilitation Stories, #Animal Welfare, #Taronga Zoo Sydney

Posted on 13th December 2019 by Media Relations

Taronga Wildlife Hospital sees over 1400 wildlife cases annually across both our zoos – Taronga Zoo Sydney and Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo. 

On Thursday 28 November, a 1.5 metre male Lace Monitor traditionally referred to as a Goanna was admitted into the hospital. The animal was being monitored by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services for over a month at West Head in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park north of Sydney following concerns from member of the public who had reported a piece of metal protruding from the animal.

Like most native animals, they are wary of people and will usually flee if given the opportunity. They will rear up onto their hind legs when threatened, chased or cornered, and can also emit harsh hissing noises.

Lace Monitors are opportunistic predators, with serrated teeth and nails to help rip and tear potential prey apart. They are well known for frequenting many camping grounds where people will often ignore warnings and feed wild animals.

Feeding wild animals can cause a lot of problems most notably changing wild animal’s behaviour and often de-sensitising them to danger presented by human activity. 

‘There are no positives to feeding wildlife. When food stops being offered the animals will often become frustrated and aggressive towards people. It can also cause nutritional deficiencies such as metabolic bone disease, and it can put wildlife at risk from burning feet on barbeques or in this instance swallowing skewers.’ said Dr. Gabrielle Tobias.

Following admission to the Wildlife Intensive Care ward at Taronga the animal underwent a veterinary assessment by Taronga Vet, Dr. Gabrielle Tobias. Gabrielle performed x-rays to ascertain the best course of action based on where the skewer was sitting.

‘’I was disappointed to see that the skewer had a ring on the end which would make removal more difficult. I was unable to differentiate where the end of the skewer was seated within his body cavity.’’ said Gabrielle.

Dr. Gabrielle with the assistance of fellow Taronga Veterinarians, Taronga Vet Nurses and a Veterinarian Intern performed a gruelling 4-hour surgery to remove and repair the damage caused by the ingested skewer. 

The animal is making a promising recovery. ‘’At this stage it’s been two weeks since surgery, he is digesting food well, passing faeces regularly and is in good body condition. After that, it is up to him (and the public) if he makes the same mistake again.’’ said Gabrielle.

Taronga will provide further updates of its rehabilitation and hopeful release back out into the wild.