Prickly pokey PT, WSU veterinarians putting a recovering porcupine through his paces
PULLMAN, Wash. — Hit by a car, left in a ditch to die and then scooped up clinging to life by an endloader working construction, Washington State University veterinarians are now caring for a very lucky porcupine who was brought in by an area wildlife rehabber.
“Neurologically he’s getting better every day,” said Clinical Assistant Professor of Zoological Animal Medicine. “The very first day I wasn’t sure he was going to make it, he was so bad. I didn’t think he’d make the night.”
She says her team immediately put him on antibiotics and painkillers. Of particular concern though, a severe abscess on the porcupine’s rump.
“It kept blowing up, and we’d have to clean it, and we’d have to anesthetize him to clean it,” she said.
Surgery was ultimately required to remove necrotic tissue and to drain the abscess.
After recovering from the surgery and his other wounds, it was straight to physical therapy to help overcome his neurological symptoms.
Walking outdoors and in hallways helped strengthen very weakened muscles, grasping treats helped with his dexterity and to re-establish neural pathways. When he came in he wasn’t able to sit up on his hind legs and would frequently walk in circles.
“Every once in a while if you watch closely you can tell he high steps with his front leg, but it’s better,” said Finch.
Helping him recover has been a challenge, but a labour of love.
“Porcupines are one of my favourite animals in the world,” she said, “I love the pokey things.”
She says he will likely stay in her care at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital for several more weeks, and will likely become an ambassador animal for his species at a local rehabilitation facility depending on his overall recovery.
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