Figure 2: Degloved tail in a female Northeastern Wood Rat (Slice).
Case history and photos
Slice is a 6-month-old female Pack Rat (Northeastern Wood rat) born & rescued in Georgia. While trying to catch Slice to place back in her cage, a close friend tried to reach for her and accidentally grabbed at her tail. Because Pack Rats have such quick jerky movements, the sudden movement she made while being caught resulted in loss of part of her tail. The owner notes that this is a defense mechanism in the wild when being captured by a predator.
She was discovered to have lost the last 1-1/2″ of skin from her tail which had slipped off when attempting to reach for her. The skin came off in one piece like a glove. There was very little bleeding, but one could see what appeared to be tendon and bone, and she was heard to whimper from the pain it caused.
Degloving injury due to trauma.
The owner began treatment immediately, giving ibuprofen (to reduce swelling and inflammation), oral Baytril (to prevent systemic infection), and Baytil otic applied to the injured portion of the tail (to help in drying), until arrangements could be made to see the vet the following day. The vet concurred with the initial treatment started of Baytril (orally) & Baytril otic (topically), but felt the ibuprofen was only needed once at the time of incident.
The vet further indicated that she was to be watched closely for signs of the healthy part of tail becoming red or swollen.
Of course, keeping her cage area clean was very important in order to prevent the exposed tail tissue from becoming infected. The vet felt amputation was not mandatory and felt that it would be best if the tail were allowed to dry and eventually fall off. This is exactly what happened with no effects to the healthy part of the tail. The vet stated, “Janet, if she was in the wild she wouldn’t have a vet or antibiotics or amputation options”, which was so true!
*Note: even though the vet’s statement regarding rats in the wild is accurate, the recommendation remains to seek treatment from a veterinarian to prevent infection and reduce pain.*
It took approx 1-1/2 months before exposed dried area withered completely & fell off. She seemed a bit lethargic the first few days, but seemed fine after that. There were no problems with healthy part of tail, and after two months of healing is fine now.
Photos 1 through 3 show the healing that occurred 2 months following the degloving injury.
Photos courtesy of Slice and her owner Janet.