Gunyah | Health and diseases
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Health and diseases

Westerse grijze kangoeroe (© Helma van Dijk)

Western Grey Kangaroo (© Helma van Dijk)


Problems with diseases Jaw inflammation Coccidiose Hypothermie Hyperthermie Nutritional myopathie/White muscle disease Stress myopathie Pneumonie Toxoplasmose

Switching by any disease to an expert vet that has the knowledge and experience with marsupials, ask explicitly for. If the doctor does not have extensive knowledge about these animals, ask if he/she is willing to make contact with an expert veterinarian. Unfortunately, there are still too many animals which die through ignorance of vets who gave a wrong treatment or prescribed a simply wrong medication. Also, it frequently happens that it all start with a wrong diagnosis.

If you’ve found the right vet carefully follow the procedure of giving medication. Also, food is a very important point, give the animal as much as possible and varied range of good nutrition. Each animal will have a different preference of what it likes to eat. A sick or weakened animals could use a little extra to get their strength back. In addition, make sure that the affected animal is in a warm and comfortable environment where there is fully rest without stress. In cold days possible use a heat lamp or another kind of warmth source like infrared plates. Of course there must be plenty of fresh water. Ill animals often drink more than they eat. In some cases, forced feeding may be needed anyway. An ill animal need always moisture and nourishment to recuperate. Also during illness of a female with young in the pouch, it is very important to keep the Joey as long as possible at the mother. Does everything to regain the mother in the right shape, you will save two.

A list of foods that you can/must offer:

• Sufficient fresh water

• A good chunk (special) kangaroo pellet feed, possibly soak in water

• Wide range of green food possible (finely chopped)

• Dandelion

• Endive

• Chicory

• Carrot grated or cut into thin plates

• Grass

• Willow branches, if necessary twigs of fruit trees (unsprayed)

• Good quality hay/Lucerne

By force-feeding giving Juvenile is a good option. This contains important vitamins and minerals. If the animals know it once they find it is usually so good that you simply can offer it on a dish after a few times. Juvenile Harrison’s Bird Foods is a hand rearing powder for parrots. It is mixed with water as a paste, with a 50 ml syringe that is easy to administer. It is also possible where appropriate to handle this medication. This product is often available from veterinarians who have much to do with parrots.

Against dehydration can give water with “electrolyte instant” offer much good, it prevents important substances leave the body quickly. “Electrolyte instant” is available from any vet.

Stress. One of the biggest causes of illness in the kangaroo species is stress. Often, in combination with a reduced resistance. Two forms of stress can be distinguished.

• The animal may be exposed to environmental stress, which is caused by among other things, for example the introduction of a new animal in the group.

• The housing of too many animals in too small space or incorrect group membership. Each individual has its own character and it is therefore not obvious that for each other strange animals don’t get along together. All kangaroo species do have a close family relationship.

• The animal may have been exposed to ‘chronic stress’ caused by bad food, poison, high humidity, infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi and other micro-organisms), trauma (injury by obstacles in the escape) bad housing, high temperatures, noise and bad air quality.

There are several diseases that may arise. The most common diseases that may develop include: Jumpy Jaw, Jaw inflammation, Coccidiosis, Hypothermia, Hyperthermia, Nutritional myopathy/White muscle disease, Stress myopathy, Pneumonia, Toxoplasmosis.


Jaw inflammation ‘Lumpy jaw’

‘Lumpy jaw’ is a generic term for inflammation jaw. Temporomandibular disorders and trauma, tartar and ‘Lumpy jaw’ are all common. All three diseases lead to serious problems if left untreated. In most cases, it is even deadly. Also, the symptoms often appear the same. Typical symptoms are swelling of the face, jaw and around the nose area. In these cases, the animal will have pain in the jaw and it won’t be able to eat. This has the result that the animal loses weight quickly and therefore the resistance will run backwards. It is important to turn on rapidly expert medical assistance. Only an expert vet can provide conclusive for any disease is involved.

‘Lumpy jaw’ is one of the most feared diseases by Wallaby-owners. The bacterium of this disease causes an infection of the soft web of the jaw, followed by a migration to the bone. “The primary nuclei to the origin of Lumpy jaw are Nocardia, Actinomyces and Fusobacterium Necrophorum, optionally in combination with Bacteroides spp. These germs are found in the soil, the intestines of the animals and to a lesser extent, they are part of the normal oral flora. The condition can also occur in animals in the wild, particularly in older animals, or as a consequence of strong environmental changes. However, animals in captivity will occur much more as a result of a bad management. Important factors that play an important role here: overcrowding, poor drainage, improper ration, too much soft food instead of hard and persistent stress.

The Fusobacterium Necrophorum bacteria is responsible for inflammation in the toe of the hind legs and tail tip. This infection is therefore mostly seen in couples where other kangaroo-like ‘Lumpy Jaw’ have.

Typical symptoms are:

• swelling at the height of the face, jaw and surrounding the nose area.

• the animals will constitute excessive chewing and saliva.

• an abscess is formed which will eventually burst.

• In a later stage, the animal will have no appetite anymore with weight loss as a result.

• Septicaemia will eventually lead to death (Septicaemia = Sepsis; high concentration of pathogenic

micro-organisms in the blood).

• In some cases, there is no abscess is formed but there is direct damage to the jawbone. If this

condition is left untreated will die the animal.


Treatment: Both trauma and tartar are generally easy to treat and heal quickly. ‘Lumpy Jaw’ is treatable but important about this is that:

A) The fact that the animal is treated quickly.

B) That the treatment is carried out by a veterinary expert.

Do not wait days or weeks before taken action. Quick action is desirable. The further the inflammation progresses the more difficult the healing process will be.

In particular, the condition of the animal will be hard backwards and eventually can also lead to rapid death. The healing process will take more time. Important is a good and consistent treatment of the medication as prescribed. The biggest problems in the aftercare is perhaps to get the animal starting to eat. The animal will have in the beginning a lot of pain in the mouth so that it can be difficult to eat for the animal. Be creative in looking around until you find the foods that they like and prefer to eat well. Usually chopped greens like escarole, chicory, grated carrots gladly eaten. One can also try whether the animal will eat porridge. Create this only with water. Make sure the animal in need can eat the more the merrier.

If the animal does not eat enough or not, force-feeding is required. Especially Juvenille from Harrison can give help. This is a breeding parrot’s feed powder. It is a high quality food with all the necessary vitamins and minerals. It is mixed with lukewarm water to make a paste. With the aid of a syringe this past can be given. Nice touch is that most animals find it very tasty. It is also possible where appropriate to handle this in a mix with medication.

If an animal is ill will drop in body temperature. Provide a warm animal stay with thick bedding of hay with, if necessary, a heating lamp.

Prevention is always better than cure. Stressful situations should be limited as much as possible. These animals do not get straw but they need a good and fine hay quality. Also, their stay is kept clean.

By eating branches mouth circumference will be harder and provide protection against cuts and abrasions. The teeth are worn down evenly and also the change of teeth is promoted. The provision of edible branches ensures that also the oral mucosa to be harder and holds the teeth in good condition. Ancient Egyptians knew once all that chewing on twigs was good for healthy teeth and made this way their teeth clean. When animals in captivity do not get enough chance to chew on branches, there is an increased risk of wound and therefore more chance of getting ‘Lumpy jaw’. Also recommend various medical expert to conduct a good quality pellet with enough vitamin E. It is likely that vitamin E also plays an important role in the prevention of ‘Lumpy jaw’.



Coccidiosis is very contagious and deadly to animals.

• It may be that an animal be infected but not sick. However, this animal can infect others.

• It is also possible that we transmit the disease through our own footwear. By a pasture walk with infected animals and then with the same footwear visit another pasture. Infectivity among footwear lasts up to three months in state.

Coccidiosis is caused by a protozoan of the genus Eimeria. The coccidiosis that affects kangaroos is specific for these animals. Many vets do not know that the oocytes (eggs coccidiosis) deviates by kangaroos. Both in terms of shape and size relative to the oocytes in other animal species. As a result, this kangaroo oocytes often dismissed as worm eggs. Normally, to treat or prevent coccidiosis well. Without treatment it will be lethal. Let always carry out an investigation than by an expert veterinary. Especially in wet periods of the year the animals are very susceptible. Especially in combination with stress or reduced resistance.

Symptoms of Coccidiosis are:

• depression, lethargy, decreased appetite,

• sudden weight loss through dehydration,

• abundant black or dark brown smelly diarrhea.

If the disease is left untreated the animal will die.

Treatment: One can treat it preventively with Baycox (2½% Toltrazuril). Personally, I let do one or two times a year faeces (droppings) research by the veterinary specialist. if it shows that it is not present, then treatment is not necessary. Animals are enough, by many, regularly dewormed for various worms, this is unnecessarily because they are less susceptible to be. By contrast, coccidiosis very often. This remains by ignorance often untreated. Therefor it is not a luxury for the animals to test them regularly (2x per year).

Prevention is always better than cure.

• The owner must ensure that the property is clean and well maintained, especially in the food and drink places.

• The food must not lie on the ground.

• Do not connect too many animals are housed in one residence.

Especially in wet periods the animals are very susceptible. Especially in combination with stress or reduced resistance. Poor drainage of the pasture area provides extra risk of contamination. This is often unavoidable but rest or extra alert.


Flagellates in marsupials

Flagellates occur quite frequently within kangaroo species. It is his single-celled parasites/flagellate. Symptoms that the animals may exhibit include diarrhea and emaciation. Animals will also go some retire and exhibit stressed behaviour. Key factors that could influence the development of this disease are stress and poor diet. This causes disturbances in the digestive system which may have an intestinal infection as a result. Stress or improper diet can lead to disturbance of the intestinal flora balance. This allows flagellates to colonize in the intestines. An infection with flagellates causes damage to the intestinal mucosa resulting in a bacterial infection. Flagellates can survive well in moist areas. Therefore, it is of the most importance that the animal housing is retained as dry as possible.

In order to be able to determine flagellates is a microscopic examination of a fresh manure sample is necessary. In particular, the word fresh is quite literally, the chance that the flagellates after one hour are no longer under the microscope possible to determine. This course will quickly add problems. Flagellates and there negative influences are much underestimated. One should, therefore, after the acquisition of a manure sample directly get to the specialized veterinarian at that point of time to examine the sample quickly. Best way to get a fresh manure sample is take your animal to the vet. Only then there will be taken a fresh manure sample.

A preventive treatment is not possible and not desirable. The drug must be administered directly in order to ensure that the animal leaves the actually it gets inside in the proper dosage. The drug can’t be mixed in water or feed. The necessary treatment also needs a longer time period.



A loss of normal body temperature leads to hypothermia. For an adult Bennett’s wallaby the normal body temperature is 36 °C. For a Joey, this is 37 °C. Extreme cases of hypothermia are most observed in the terminal stages of malnutrition, parasites and infectious diseases.

Typical symptoms:

• the cold feel of the skin, the ears, the limbs and tail.

• A slower heart rate and lethargy are also found frequently.

When the body temperature of a Macropus drops below 24 °C, the loss of the bodily functions will become irreversible.



When the body Wallaby above 38 °C increases we speak of hyperthermia. Extreme overheating is often visible by the presence of a sticky, thick layer of saliva on the skin of the animal. Healthy kangaroos have more problems with heat than with cold temperatures. Nature has different methods how a Wallaby can itself with several methods to cool down.

Typical symptoms of hyperthermia:

• an accelerated heartbeat and breathing,

• drooling and licking the forearms and hands.

Caused by poor housing, high temperatures, noise and bad air quality.



Nutritional myopathy/White muscle disease

White muscle disease is a degenerative condition which if not treated quickly, affects every muscle of the body, including the heart and diaphragm. The development of this deadly disease caused by a deficiency or a wrong ratio of Selenium and/or Vitamin E in the ration of the animal. By giving a suitable feed, it is easy to prevent. The two nutrients work together in the body of the wallaby and maintain a good muscle metabolism. Unless both nutrients are present in the correct proportions, the condition will develop. Countries where the animals live in the wild have sufficient amounts of necessary nutrients in the soil. By eating plants, which store the substances, the animals will be sufficiently within.

The first signs of white muscle disease are:

• difficulty moving,

• general weakness,

• effort to get straight, with the result that the animals are lying down a lot,

• In a later stage, will take place there is a degeneration of the muscles, chiefly in the hind legs,

• The animals will move on stumbling,

• The disease is often confused with ‘stress myopathy’.



Stress myopathy

In any situation which the animal feels threatened, which he feels trapped, or where he has to fight to get away without any chance of it, take severe stress and can lead to this condition.

It is a degenerative condition (wear and tear), which may be due in part to chase the animal and sustained loud noise: in other words, extreme stressful situations.

The physical exertion or stress provides a degradation of the muscle, followed by the release of lactic acid and acidosis (abnormal state of the organism by the accumulation of loss of acids or alkalis).

If the stress is sufficiently extreme, the condition can quickly lead to cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle) which results in rapid death.

When the stress persists long-term, it will create a condition of hypoglycaemia within a few minutes. In the majority of cases this will lead to a stress myopathy that slowly deteriorate the muscle with muscle paralysis and rigidity (paralysis) as a result.



Respiratory infections that cause pneumonia are found regularly when Wallabies are held in captivity. Factors that may cause pneumonia are: stress in captivity, stressful handling of animals, poor transport associated with stress, hyper- or hypothermia, extreme fluctuations in day and night temperatures, inadequate shade in the summer, poor ventilation or poor hygiene the enclosed space. Ammonia levels should always be checked and the floors must be kept clean and dry.

Symptoms that are seen is a decrease in body weight and general weakness. The animals will jump far less and insert multiple rests. Cough and nasal discharge will be able to be observed only at a later stage. The animals will breathe faster which takes more and more effort for them.



Toxoplasmosis is caused by the protozoan Toxoplasma Gondii. It is transmitted by cats. An infection can result in three forms.

the acute form in which there are minimal signs, followed by a sudden fall and mortality,

the chronic form in which symptoms such as lethargy, diarrhea, neurological signs and breathing difficulties, followed by death within 5 to 7 days,

at last, there is the latent form which is characterized by the formation of cysts by the parasite. The initial infection, the animals will survive and under the influence of stress, there will be a reactivation of the infection.


The most commonly observed symptoms of Toxoplasmosis in wallabies are:

• blindness,

• problems of the central nervous system,

• diarrhea, followed by,

• respiratory problems and mortality.

It is important that cats can’t enter the animal areas or feed storage, so that infection can be prevented.