Millennium Post

Behold the elephant

Behold the elephant
A temple that keeps elephants in our town has locked them away. They say the elephant is in musth and has become aggressive. What is this?
Musth is a periodic change of the behaviour of male elephants which can last from some weeks up to some months. This change has got hormonal reasons. In the musth <g data-gr-id="110">period</g> a bull produces 40 to 60 times more of testosterone (male sex hormone) than in the non-musth time. This is the normal breeding time for elephants.

The danger of the musth for the elephant keeper is that the bull usually at first doesn’t have any outer physical musth symptoms. This is one of the main reasons, why the elephant bull has to be kept in a special bull stable. Elephants must be left alone during musth. They are agitated by the slightest noise, from traffic or people. A constant supply of running water must be provided at a distance reachable to the elephant’s trunk. The tank must not be too close to the elephant, as it may destroy it. The elephant must be showered with water at least once a day, to cool it. Good food must be supplied. The mahout must be present in the vicinity, throughout the musth period. Mahouts are able, to carry out regular activities such <g data-gr-id="123">as,</g> bath, fodder collection, and work, even in full musth. 

Musth should be a rest period for the animal and it must not be allowed to work, during this time. It should not be beaten, as many mahouts do, in order to subdue it. Keeping elephants in temples is really very cruel. They need to be free in the forest and it is possible to put them in the forest even if they have been in the temple for many years. You should campaign in your town for the temple to be elephant free. After all if a temple cannot be kind to animals, how is it a place of God?

My horse has a crack in one of his hooves. How should I go about its treatment?
The outer wall of a horse’s hoof is like our fingernails or toenails. The hard shell that is the outer wall of a hoof began life as epidermis skin cells. Epidermis cells form the outer layer of skin. They have no blood vessels and get their oxygen and nutritional needs by fluid exchange with the underlying dermis. In a hoof, the epidermis cells nearest the surface appear to get loaded with proteins that cause them to die. They dry and harden, forming the protective layer we call the hoof wall. It has no nerve tissue, meaning – just like our fingernails – we can cut and trim without pain, provided we don’t disturb the underlying living tissue. If a hoof wall gets too dry, it only stands to reason that it’s more likely to crack when it flexes under the stresses placed on it by the horse. Conversely, a hoof that is wet for too long is likely to get too soft, and ultimately develop damage due to a lack of strength.

A hoof that splits because of dryness will thus benefit if an applied preparation results in better moisture content in the hoof. On the other hand, a hoof that splits because it has been wet for too long will likely benefit if the preparation is a <g data-gr-id="104">hoof</g> <g data-gr-id="107">sealer,</g> and prevents further surface water in the paddock from reaching the hoof. However, if you notice any infection, blood, or lameness associated with the crack, call your veterinarian immediately.

My rabbit has a perpetual head tilt and looks like he’s in pain. What should I do?
A perpetual head tilt can be a sign of an ear infection. If only one side is affected, it may be due to foreign bodies, trauma, and tumour. However, bacterial infection is the most common cause of otitis media and <g data-gr-id="117">interna</g>. Other underlying causes include: Candida, a fungal yeast, Ear mite infestation, Vigorous ear flushing can leave the tissue irritated and susceptible to infection, Impaired immune system (due to stress, corticosteroid use, concurrent disease, debility) also increases susceptibility to bacterial infections, Ear cleaning solutions may be irritating to the middle and inner ear (avoid using any internal medications of fluids if the eardrum is ruptured.) You need to get immediate attention from the vet. Fluid and electrolyte therapy will be given until the rabbit <g data-gr-id="132">stabilizes</g>, with bacteria specific antibiotics administered orally, and also applied directly in the ears if the eardrum has not ruptured. Antifungal medications will be administered of the infection is found to be caused by yeast. If the ear canal or eardrum has been severely damaged, it is possible that surgery will need to be performed to remove the ear canal.

My hamster has been urinating too frequently and is unusually bitey. He has also put on a lot of <g data-gr-id="103">weight</g> and hence has become extremely lethargic. What could be the reason?
Your hamster could be suffering from diabetes. Diabetes in hamsters is usually hereditary, but it’s suspected that an unknown environmental element may sometimes be a cause. Excessive drinking and increased urination can be signs of diabetes or kidney disease in hamsters.

Your vet can test your hamster’s urine and blood to determine what is wrong. Diabetes and kidney disease can be fatal if not treated, but some hamsters respond very well to low-sugar or low-protein diets. If a hamster has high glucose but no ketones on testing, diet modification can help. Sometimes herbal supplements or medications to lower blood sugar (hypoglycemic agents) are used. Some people have used insulin either orally or by injection, but this is very uncommon and only on the advice of an experienced small animal vet, High glucose and ketones <g data-gr-id="127">indicates</g> a very unwell diabetic hamster that needs urgent vet attention. Often diet changes alone are not enough. A rehydration solution is used to replace lost salts as an emergency measure (it does contain sugars so hypoglycemic agents are often used as well). Adding salts to water should only be done when advised by a vet as it can seriously harm a hamster if used incorrectly. A diabetic hamster diet is higher in protein and fibre than a usual hamster diet, but lower in fat and carbohydrate. Any carbohydrates in the diet (as they should not be completely excluded) should be in their least refined form.

There is a stray cat in my neighbourhood that I would love to take in. The problem is that I already have a cat, and anytime he sees the other cat in the back garden he becomes very aggressive. What should I do?
Before adopting the stray, you must get it vaccinated and tested by a vet. Confine the new cat to a separate room with food, water, and a litter box. Go into the room to pet him and begin the bonding process, but do not let him leave the room for one week. This will allow your other cat time to get used to his scent and presence.

After a week, place the new cat into a cage or crate and bring the cage into the main living area of your home. The main area is where you spend the most time. Leave the cat inside the cage for one hour, allowing the other cat to sniff the cage. After one hour, open the door of the cage and allow the new cat to come out into the room. Watch your current cat’s reaction closely. If the two begin to fight, immediately put the new cat back into the cage. Repeat this from time to time.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, MP & Union Cabinet Minister, also an eminent animal rights activist and environmentalist answers Millennium Post readers queries related to animal welfare issues.

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