Ask the Swan Specialist

Injured Cygnet's Foot: Treatment Guidelines
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 3 June 2007
In Response To: Injury to Cygnet's Foot and Leg (SONIA MESRY)

Hi Sonia:

Great question. Thanks. We actually had a turtle shred one of our swan's feet when he was only 12 weeks of age. Our veterinarian cleaned the wound, stitched him up and the swan is now 5 years of age. He has funny looking feet but he has managed.

Our best advice would be to get the cygnet to an experienced avian (bird) veterinarian. It may just be a matter of stitching and cleaning the wound. As long as you get the cygnet back to the mother in a reasonable time (2-3 hours), she will accept him back. If surgery is required and an anesthesia given, the chances that the cygnet will not be back in a reasonable time are great and then, the mother will not be taking it back.

How many cygnets does the mother have? Have they been pinioned? We are asking this question because if the cygnets are Mute Swans, they normally must be pinioned under state law. This procedure should occur between 1-5 weeks of age. Six weeks is not too far along, but they will need to have anesthesia for this procedure. If this is the case, we would recommend that you take all cygnets including mom to the veterinarian. Once the veterinarian has pinioned all cygnets and cleaned the leg and the cygnets awaken from the surgery, the veterinarian can return them to mom in the holding area. She will readily take them back. If there is only the one cygnet, life just got easier for you because you only have to take the cygnet and mom.

If you opt not to take mom and the cygnet requires extensive care away from the parents, YOU CANNOT take the cygnet back to the parents. The male parent will be dispatched to kill the cygnet.

If you opt not to take the cygnet to the veterinarian, the following two possibilities will occur:

1. A predator or an infection will kill the cygnet. Mother nature takes care of

the situation.

2. The cygnet survives but is in pain and discomfort. If the limb could have

been repaired right away, the opportunity to repair the injury quickly will

have been lost and the animal will be severely impaired. Swans must

have the use of both feet to gain access to banks when leaving the

water for food foraging.

Our best advice is to get the cygnet to the veterinarian. Try to get mom but if you cannot, then the veterinarian will be able to contact a wildlife specialist or zoo that might be interested in caring for the cygnet until it can be placed on a pond by itself or with a mate (6 months of age). Please let us know the outcome. The Regal Swan.

Messages In This Thread

Injury to Cygnet's Foot and Leg -- SONIA MESRY -- 3 June 2007
Injured Cygnet's Foot: Treatment Guidelines -- The Regal Swan -- 3 June 2007
Injured Swan *Link* -- Jennifer Gordon -- 12 October 2007
Injured Swan Link -- The Regal Swan -- 12 October 2007
no kill facilities -- Jennifer Gordon -- 15 October 2007
Injured Swan -- The Regal Swan -- 15 October 2007