Cricket Walks Again

By Katherine Pioli

I thought you peeper fans out there might want an update on Cricket/Bumblefoot’s condition. A quick recap: Ben and I came back from a week-long vacation to find our male duck limping badly. We found a swollen bubble on a finger of his webbed foot. Some interweb research told us it was bumblefoot, a potentially fatal infection. After attempting at-home surgery, we sought professional assistance.

A week and a half ago, I took the little man to the Parrish Creek Veterinary (the Tracy Aviary recommended them) to get his foot examined. The vet listened to Cricket’s heartbeat, examined the foot, watched him walk around, asked about his energy level and appetite. In the end, he recommended x-rays and possible surgery. Unfortunately, I had to decline treatment when I learned that the bill would be in the many hundreds of dollars. Sorry, little guy. 

I the vet with a still-gimpy duck and some antibiotics. Based on his limited research, Ben was concerned the antibiotics wouldn’t help. Their effectiveness requires the medicine to circulate to the duck’s feet through the blood stream and ducks have notoriously bad circulation through their lower limbs. We didn’t even know if the medicine would reach the desired point of the infection. But we had a prayer.

We have been quite literally shoving the pills down Cricket’s throat every day. Have you ever tried to pry a duck’s bill open and stuff something down its throat? Didn’t think so. For the record, it’s not easy.

Today, Cricket seems much healthier in general. Although there is no visible change in the swelling on the bottom of his foot, his limp seems to have disappeared. Before, he would stand in the yard balanced heavily on one tiny healthy leg, but now he’s standing strudily on two feet . He runs and waddles as fast as the other ducks without apparent discomfort. It is actually difficult to tell him apart now from the others. The only sure sign that it’s him is the persistent bubble. 

I don’t know what to think about the bumble. It isn’t going anywhere or getting any smaller. It’s not getting larger either. I checked back in with the vet yesterday, and they described bumblefoot as an infected callous. Though the swelling should go down, they told me, it probably would never look exactly normal again. I took that to mean that the bubble was not necessarily an ominous sign, though there is a chance it indicates a continued presence of infection. 

Hopefully once the antibiotics run out he will maintain the good health he now shows. If not… Hang in there little guy!

This article was originally published on January 24, 2013.