Mallard #20-0142

March 4, 2020
April 5, 2020
Rescue Location
Fauquier County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Likely hit by vehicle
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On March 3, a citizen found a male Mallard duck limping in a ditch by the side of the road in Fauquier County, Virginia. The rescuer was able to catch the duck and took him to New Baltimore Animal Hospital. A Wildlife Center transporter was able to pick up the duck the following day and drove him to the Center.

Dr. Karra, the Center’s senior veterinary intern, examined the duck upon admission. The duck’s left leg was badly injured; radiographs confirmed a complete fracture of the leg near the duck’s tarsometatarsus (ankle). The Mallard was extremely thin, and blood work confirmed that he was anemic.

Dr. Karra began prepping materials to fashion a "boot" for the duck; this padded splint offers the duck’s ankle some stability and protection as it starts to heal. The duck also received fluids and pain medication.

In the following days, the veterinary team carefully checked and changed the duck’s boot as needed, and continued to feed, hydrate, and medicate the duck. On March 13, another set of radiographs were taken to check on the fractured leg; overall, the soft tissue at the site of the injury was less swollen, and it appeared as though an initial callous was starting to form over the fracture.

On March 17, the duck started to acclimate to the outdoor aviary; an enclosure (without a swimming tub) was set up for the duck so that he could spend more time outside during the day. The duck walked well on both feet and began eating a little more consistently, so on March 20, the duck was able to stay outside. Radiographs confirmed that a callus was forming well.

The Mallard is scheduled for additional radiographs on March 27; the boot may be able to be removed at that point if the fractured leg is adequately healed.

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Patient Updates

Mallard #20-0142 continued to do well in the Center’s Aviary; by April 1, Dr. Karra noted that the duck was bright, alert, and increasingly feisty! The Mallard was walking well with no signs of a limp. On April 3, the veterinary team took another set of radiographs to get a better look at the fractured ankle; Dr. Ernesto noted that the fracture had completely healed and had a good callus formation. There were no signs of bumblefoot or any other issues with the duck!

The Mallard’s waterproofing was good, indicating to the staff that the duck would be able to swim for long periods of time in the wild. On Sunday, April 5, Dr. Karra was able to take the duck back to a park in Northern Virginia for release.

Mallard Duck #20-0142 did well during his first week in the Center’s aviary; the duck was able to move around the space wearing his boot, and gradually began eating more on his own.

On March 27, follow-up radiographs were taken to check on the duck’s fractured ankle; the veterinary team was delighted to see a formed callus over the fractured bone. The veterinarians decided that the supportive boot was no longer needed, and placed the Mallard back in the aviary, along with a shallow tub of water. The duck placed a small amount of weight on his injured leg.

The following morning, the staff reported that the duck ate a small amount of food after it was delivered, and promptly followed his meal with a swim! In the days following, the staff saw the duck walking without a limp, and bearing his full weight on his healed leg.

The staff will continue to care for the duck in the next week and will allow him more time to regain strength and use of the injured leg, while swimming and restoring waterproofing to his feathers.