Flies, fly eggs & maggots
April 19th, 2015
Emergency first aid only!
Ideally you should get all wounded wildlife to your nearest vet or sanctuary ASAP. We know sometimes this just is not possible, this article is designed to save a life in the short term until help is available! Our first aid advice is designed to utilise readily available household items to help you out of a bad situation. It is not intended to replace veterinary or sanctuary advice, which should be sought as soon as you can.
This advice is not practical for inexperienced handlers with dangerous species such as otters, foxes,badgers and larger birds of prey. You should enlist the skills of an experienced sanctuary or vet. Always make sure you are safe and that the bird or animal is held in safe manner for both you and it.
Flies circling an injured wild animal or bird are bad news. Usually it means that the animal or bird is so sick that it is going to die soon, or that there is a festering wound somewhere attracting them. The flies will lay eggs upon the creature, which will rapidly hatch into maggots, which will burrow into the animal or bird and eventually kill it.
Fly eggs and maggots should be removed as soon as you find them. if the eggs/maggots are on or around a wound you should still check the rest of the creature for more, especially around the eyes, in the ears and mouth, in the ‘armpits’ around the bottom and genitals and between the toes.
If there is no obvious wound or reason the flies have laid eggs, then there may be an underlying cause such as dehydration, starvation, age or illness that has made the creature attractive to flies. These are the hardest cases as they are usually covered with random patches of eggs. You must check very carefully for eggs and maggots everywhere listed above.
Every last egg should be removed, you can moisten therm with warm salt water to make them easier to remove (don’t wet the creature too much though) either with a pair of tweezers or an old tooth brush or nit comb.
Be really careful working around sensitive areas and wounds, be as gentle as you can!
Maggots should be picked off with tweezers, drop them into a jar of water as you work and they will not crawl all over the place (and back onto the creature)
Once the creature is cleaned up it is advisable to treat them for shock – see our article on shock treatment!
Keep an eye out for any flies returning, any maggots or eggs you may have missed and keep the creature indoors until you can see a vet. Do not put insect repellant or anything similar onto the creature, it could be poisonous. You can use pure citronella oil on the box the creature is in though!
Cleaned wounds can be treated with Sudocrem cream – it is an excellent healer and it contains benzyl benzoate which flies hate! Do not put it in the eyes, nose or mouth though. Now you will need the vet for a check over and probably antibiotics for your creature as maggot infested wounds invariably get infected.
If your creature had no wound, you will need the vet/sanctuary ASAP to determine why he was laid on by the flies in the first place.
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