A lucky old duck got a second chance at life this month after its owners discovered it had been mauled by a fox.
Phil and Katy Colley, who run Dogwood Cottage Campsite in Brede, thought old Mother Duck would almost certainly die when they found her outside her coop, bleeding and with all her neck muscles exposed.
“Something must have clenched its jaws around her neck,” said Katy.
“All the skin had come away from the head to the body. She had already lost a lot of blood and after such catastrophic injuries we thought she had little chance of making it, so we bandaged her neck and held her tight, thinking to make her comfortable as she slipped away. The only problem was that Mother Duck didn’t want to slip away. She kept trying to get up and flap her wings, so we called the vet.”
On call Westpoint vet Rebecca Rehage was already in her pyjamas when she took the call at 11.30pm and reasoned that the duck might already be dead by the time she arrived. It was a close call but big-hearted Phil was insistent they make every attempt to save the duck’s life.
“We knew this wasn’t going to be cheap,” he said. “But I believe where there is life there is hope – and this was the mother of most of the other Cayuga ducks in our flock. We couldn’t let their mother die, not when she was fighting so hard to stay alive.”
When Rebecca arrived at 12.30am, it was even worse than she had imagined. The oesophagus had been punctured so if this was not sewn up, the duck would die.
Katy said: “I’ll never forget that night for as long as I live! It was an extraordinary display of veterinary skill and nursing brilliance. By the time Rebecca had finished at 2.30am Mother Duck looked more like Frankenduck – but at least she was alive.”
For the next two days Mother Duck recovered in the bathtub before being moved outside to a small ‘hospital coop’ away from other ducks.
“The first week was worrying as she refused to eat,” said Phil. “Rebecca was in constant contact, giving advice on when to administer the antibiotics and painkillers and how to tempt her to eat.”
Finally after eight days Mother Duck started taking in solid food and now, two weeks after her horrific ordeal she is back to her normal self.
“We’ve told a lot of people about our very special duck and they can’t quite believe it,” said Phil. “She’s become a bit of a celebrity on the campsite. One friend said it was like a Beatrix Potter story crossed with a Tarantino movie. She is certainly an extraordinary duck and though she will never be the prettiest in our flock, she is definitely the bravest.”
Katy added: “We can’t thank Rebecca enough for saving Mother Duck’s life.
“She is an amazing vet and we have one lucky ducky.”