14 Apr 2014

Hand Raising a wild antelope

A Red Duiker named Jinx
I have had the most wonderful opportunities in life, and one of those was being able to hand raise a few wild animals - many birds, a wood owl, a genet and a red duiker.   The red duiker I got the most attached to, he was a pleasure to watch develop into a characterful little animal - full of spunk.

Since then I have been asked fairly frequently for advice on how to hand raise other animals.  There is not much out there in knowledge of hand-rearing wildlife.  Hence this post on Hand raising an antelope.  Instead of spending ages on a phone explaining the ins and outs of caring for your antelope - I can now just say " read my blog"!

*  Please contact your State Vet, or Conservation office to let them know that you are caring for a wild animal.
*  A orphaned antelope is totally reliant on its mother, and the natural mother is always best for it, Fostering with another mother is second best, and hand rearing as a last resort.
*  It is extremely time consuming - like having a new born baby in the home.  Don't even consider it if you can't commit.  Rather locate your local animal rescue center:
Animal and Bird Rescue Centres within SA:
African Bird of Prey Sanctuary
Center for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
Freeme Wildlife Rehabilitaion Center
Wildcare Africa

Jinx Picked up by a Sympathetic tourist
I had tried raising a red duiker before and was unsuccessful,  You never know what they arrive with, and sometimes the mother has abandoned them because they are weak, and are holding her or the herd back.  So I named the little red duiker that arrived with me "Jinx".   He was less than 6 weeks when he arrived and his story is a sad one, in that his mother was poached for bush meat and Jinx was being sold on the side of the road for the "sympathetic tourist trade".
As a word of warning - please do not buy wildlife from the side of the road, as you are just promoting this kind of business.  Rather report it to your local State vet, Conservation office, or rehabilitation center.  Jinx, was not paid for, but rather confiscated by one of the passing rangers in the area.  He was literally only a few weeks old when he came to me.

I raised him successfully, then the hard part came in letting go.  I would let him out his pen a few hours a day. We live on a game farm, so it was natural for him to slowly venture further and further.  He would stay out longer and longer.  He found himself a girlfriend when he was about 8 months old.  And of course he wanted to show his girlfriend the best spot to get apples and carrots (his favorite)  but the girlfriend was having none of his in-laws (us),  And Jinx had to choose:  us or the girlfriend. Guess who won?  And that was the last we saw of Jinx.  It was extremely gratifying to have been able to release him successfully from our care.

* This is the difficult part, because (A) they are just too cute and adorable, (B) hey... this could be Bambi.  But the harsh reality is that we are not the best antelope mothers.
* Wild animals are very prone to Stress, and can often just die within a few days from that.  They are also prone to infections and digestive problems.  If the little antelope makes it past the first week, you can count yourself very privileged.
*  Try not to tame, or imprint yourself on the animal, as this can cause problems later.  Males can also be aggressive, so you need to be strict from the outset not to practice their fighting skills on you.  You are the "mother"  not their play mate.  I had the most awesome dog at the time called "Tamboti"  she became Jinx's play mate and protector.
Tamboti (the gorgeous dog) and the Jinx (the red duiker)
*  When you first get in a wild antelope (or any wild animal), they are extremely stressed.  Stress is a killer in animals and birds.  Keep it away from as many prying eyes as possible.  Enclose it in a dark warm comfortable place for about an hour,  A large cardboard box with an old blanket and breathing holes works well, put a small bowl of water in with the animal.  Now leave it alone.  If the animal is injured, you will need to call out a vet.
*  If the animal is a new born and the umbilical cord is still wet, you need to clean with a tincture of iodine or colloidal silver or a disinfectant cream- very important as infection can set in through this area.
*  You need an area Somewhere, Quiet, dry, warm, and safe.  A spot to hide (box, crate, bales of hay), with no windows it can run into.
* A fenced area where it can venture out to get its daily dose of Vitamin D (as in Sunshine).  A garage, store-room, shed, or stables works well
*  You will need to install an infra-red light for warmth.  I found that this was easiest to cut a whole in the top of the box, and suspend the light over the box.  Not too close, otherwise it gets really hot in there.
*  After a few days the young animal may be taken out during the day into a small pen with shade, and then taken back to its shelter at night. 
*  Make sure there are no poisonous plants in its pen.  

Tamboti and Jinx - best play mates
What you will need:
*  A Baby bottle
*  A baby teat for the bottle.  Or a calf teat for larger antelopes (usually available from the farmers co-op or your local vet.
Feeding Time:
*  You will need to weigh your antelope.  The easiest is to weigh yourself, then pick up the animal, and subtract the two weights
*  The first feed, give only water with a bottle  Add electrolytes into the water ("Darrows" -available from most vets 1ml to 10ml water). Gradually add milk until the formula below is used. 
*  Feed 10-15% of the animal's body weight per day, divided into 4-5 feeds.  (i.e. 1L milk per 10Kg body weight)
*  Start off slowly, with 60ml milk per 10kg body weight per feed and increase gradually.  
*  See the milk formulas below
*  Milk formula must be given at body temperature (38ÂșC)  I found it easiest just to insert the bottle in a bowl of hot water until warm.
* I have found it best to sit on the floor with a towel, and have the young antelope lie with its back against my body.
*  If the animal does not take the teat first time.  Leave it and try again later. Although force feeding may be necessary to prevent dehydration. (check below on how to check for dehydration:
*  Insert your finger gently into the corner of the mouth followed by the teat
*  Massage the gums lightly.
*  Speak to the animal softly and continuously whilst feeding.
*  Blow gently on it’s face.
*  the Antelope will often chew at the teat to start,  be patient it will eventually realize it is food,  The first bottle may take a while.
*  Stroke the back and tail whilst feeding to stimulate digestion.  
*  Bottles and teats to be washed in clean hot water after each feed.
*  Bottles and teats to be sterilized before each feed.
*  Supply fresh clean water at all times.
Jinx getting fed by me from his safe zone - a comfy worm box
Below is a variety of different formulas for antelopes that were given to me.  The cream and egg yolk are very important as an antelope has a high fat, high protein diet.   The protexin is a pro-biotic also extremely important.  
My recipe:
1L Fresh Full Cream cow's milk
60ml Fresh cream
10ml egg yolk
Pinch of Protexin (from vet) every 2nd feed. (This is a pro-biotic - very Important!)
which worked out per feed:
1kg body weight feed 150ml per day divided into 5 feeds (every 4 hours)
30ml Full Cream Cow's milk
1.8ml cream
0.3ml egg yolk  (for this I would break an egg into a small bowl, then suck up 0,3ml with a small syringe)
Pinch of Protexin every 2nd feed
1ml Darrows every 2nd feed

Another Formula:  
1L Water
9 Tbls (135ml) Nespray  (powdered children milk)
65ml Ideal Milk  (evaporated milk)
1 egg yolk
Pinch of Protexin (from vet)

And Another Formula:
500ml Fresh cow’s milk
40ml of fresh or canned cream (or butter if cream not available)
1 egg yolk
A few drops of vitamin syrup such as Vidaylin

And Another Formula:  
Make up 1L of S26 or SMA or Pelargon Baby formula according to instructions
60ml Fresh cream 
Biorem or Protexin

Jinx in his outside daytime pen
Always Supply in their pen:
Fresh water
Charcoal from an old fire (for digestion, they will eat it if their tummy is upset)
Supply grated or finely chopped vegetables such as: (sprinkle Protexin (a probiotic over food):
Sweet potato
Butternut / pumpkin
Supply wild food such as fruit and leaves from: (check in a book such what the species eats)
Buffalo Thorn  (Ziziphus mucronata)
Red Ivory  (Berchemia zeyheri)
Natal Gardenia  (Gardenia cornuta)
Sickle Bush  (Dichrostachys cinerea)
Wild Fig  (Ficus sp.)
Acacia  (Acacia sp.)
Duiker berry  (Sapium integerrimum)
Green Monkey Orange  (Strychnos spinosa)
Black Monkey Orange  (Strychnos madagascariensis)
* A good tree book will often inform you of what will browse on the leaves and fruit

*  In the case of a young antelope, the mother will stimulate it to defecate and urinate by licking it's anal area and genitals.  In your case (No... I am not asking you to do that!), but you will need to get a bowl with warm water and a damp cloth or piece of cotton wool and rub these areas until such time as it does its droppings and a pee.  This is very important, otherwise you will end up with an antelope with bloating, diarrhea or kidney problems.

Tamboti, a Genet I was also hand-raising, and Jinx

*  Antelopes have sharp hooves - be careful
*  A sick, weak or injured animal will need veterinary attention as as soon as possible
*  Do not feed a stressed, weak or chilled animal, Stabilize it first.
*  Feeds must be regular intervals
*  Do NOT overfeed the milk bottle, this can result in bloating or diarrhea.  
*  Discard any unfinished milk after a feed.  
*  Do Not Squirt the milk into the antelopes mouth as it can go into the lungs causing pneumonia
*  A young antelope may try to head-but you to get milk, as this is what it does to stimulate the milk flow of the mother.  It is a completely normal "built in" reaction.  Don't turn it into a game, it will back fire on you once it gets horns!  

*  The antelope may be full of external parasites (fleas, ticks) You can  use frontline with spot-on for cats, or a natural alternative such as Diatomaceous earth (see my post on this).
*  I fed charcoal in a bowl for it to eat when and if the animal felt like it 
*  Add 1 x crushed tissue salts # 9 (Natrium muriaticum) for water imbalamces in with it's milk.
*  Take off cream and egg yolk, and add a 1mm Darrows (electrolytes) to the milk
*   Wash off any faeces off the tail area. 
*  You can check an animal for dehydration by pulling the the skin gently, it should go back to how it was, if it stays pulled up, the animal is dehydrated.  Eyes will also appear sunken
*   Give only electrolytes in water until the body is back in balance, then continue with the formula.

Tips and Suggestions:
*  For more fabulous animal caring tips have a look my Furry Pets and Friends Index page
* Please Comment and share your experiences.

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  1. Ola :)

    we have a little petting zoo in Mozambique and 2 days ago someone brought us a little red duiker, that was on the beach chased by dogs.
    I think that precious little girl is just a few days old.
    I m feeding it baby milk and it works out well.Today i gave it a bit of grated apple and it ate it with pleasure.
    Now I wonder, if it is really that young.with what age do they start eating solid food?
    Thank you so much for your blog, it helped me already a lot :D
    Happy Days :)

  2. I had tried raising a red duiker before and was unsuccessful, You never know what they arrive with, and sometimes the mother has abandoned them because they are weak, and are holding her or the herd back. So I named the little red duiker that arrived with me.

    Live in care jobs

  3. Nice blog.


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