Baby Deer Survives Snake Bite, Tropical Storm Debby
What would you do if you found a tiny fawn that was bitten in the eye by a poisonous snake and abandoned by her mother shortly after Tropical Storm Debby drenched the area? If you're the Suncoast Animal League, you do everything you can to save its life.
Monday morning, when most of us were checking for damage and flooding in our yards from Tropical Storm Debby's deluge, a tiny victim of the storm was struggling to stay alive.
"Dawn," a five-pound fawn, was most likely abandoned by her mother and left to fend for herself after she was bitten by a poisonous water moccasin, according to Rick Chaboudy, Executive Director of the Suncoast Animal League. Her face was swollen to three times its normal size, a result of the venom that entered her body after the snake bit her eye and lower face. The little fawn was so weak, she could not stand up.
"Mom probably did walk away from her knowing that she was very sick. And, you know that's what mother nature tells them, it's survival of the fittest," said Chaboudy.
Chaboudy drove 20 miles from the Suncoast Animal League in Palm Harbor to Odessa to rescue Dawn. It was the last of 14 deer rescues that Chaboudy made after Tropical Storm Debby moved through.
The phones at the League's office started ringing like crazy Monday morning with people calling about orphaned baby deer and birds in their neighborhoods.
Most of the calls came from the Tarpon Woods subdivision in East Lake, a lush, wooded area that is home to many deer and other wildlife. Chaboudy says mother deer had brought their babies to the Tarpon Woods golf course, a result of having to seek dry land during the storms.
"It was very odd to see ... They're out in the middle of the golf course, so the babies are exposed. They're exposed to people, they're exposed to predators, and coyotes that also left the flooded areas. Even something like a five-pound fawn can be picked up by a great horned owl or a bald eagle. They're in danger from just about everything," said Chaboudy, who was able to return all but two baby deer to their herds after the storms: a small fawn that died after it was found, and Dawn.
Chaboudy says it was touch and go after Dawn was rescued. They tried everything they could to help her survive. The dramatic tale of the tiny deer's discovery, treatment, and eventual naming was documented on Suncoast Animal League's Twitter feed.
June 25: FLOODED with deer calls today. Rescued a couple of fawns.
June 25: 2nd fawn rescued today. 1st one is not doing so well so heading to the vets.
June 25: 5 lb. 6 oz. little one with swollen face and closed bloody eye.
June 26: She maybe"out of the woods" but she's not yet out of the woods. She spent more time at the vets today. She is a fighter.
June 27: Let's Play the Name Game #14 has had three successful bottle feedings of 3oz. or more. She stands up, licks...
June 28: The Name Game We have narrowed the list to four: 1) Dawn 2) Debby 3) Anna 4) Windy Let's get her a name....
June 28: Rick got a wonderful "good morning" kiss to start his day today.
Sadly, four days after Dawn was rescued, she was taken back to Ehrlich Animal Hospital in Tampa, where Veterinarian David Danielson examined her and discovered that the water moccasin's fang had gone through her eye. The tiny fawn underwent surgery immediately to have her eye removed.
"She is awake and being fiesty. Surgery was a success," Rick Chaboudy tweeted shortly after the surgery last Friday afternoon.
Despite the rough start she got at life, it appears as though the little fawn Dawn is going to be just fine. Chaboudy says that once she heals, she will most likely be placed at a facility that specializes in caring for deer that can not be released back into the wild.
Dawn also appears to be developing a personality. It turns out she is one smart little deer, according to Chaboudy, who documented this incident on the Suncoast Animal League Facebook page:
"She has also mastered the skill of 'pill spitting' as I found two pills 'hidden'under towels in her bed area. She allows me to put the pill into the back of her throat as she innocently looks up at me, licks her lips as though it has been swallowed, folds her knees under her as she lays down, waits for me to turn my back and walk away and then that's when I think it happens. She spits out the pill and stuffs it under a towel. She seems too dainty to be a 'spitter' but Dawn the fawn, I'm on to you."
About the Suncoast Animal League: The Suncoast Animal League is a non-profit, no-kill, no-time limit animal rescue agency, taking in abandoned, abused, homeless and unwanted animals. Suncoast Animal League is dedicated to the needs of the community as it relates to the Protection and Welfare of its Animals.
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The Suncoast Animal League is located at 1030 Pennsylvania Ave., Palm Harbor, FL (727) 786-1330