Roe deer has curled toes
On a recent stalking trip, I shot a roe deer whose toes were so long that they actually curled up at the front. The deer did not seem to be unduly concerned by this and, from my observations, appeared to be able to walk perfectly normally before I shot it. I have never seen anything like this before. Is it a rare condition and what causes it? The condition you refer to is known as “Aladdin’s slippers”. It is unusual, but deer stalkers do encounter it from time to time.
The most likely cause is a bacterial infection called yersinia that affects the toe joints; one or more toes may show the typical extended or curling growth. However, it is also believed that there may be a genetic component to the condition. In deer that are genetically susceptible, all four feet may be affected. GD How to spot it and where to find it: This is our other native iris, the first being the prettier yellow flag. But while this has rather dull, greyishblue flowers from May to July, in autumn and winter its seedpods split open to reveal rows of large, glowing orange-red seeds that provide colour through the winter, ripening from October to February. A hardy plant, its architectural leaves remain green throughout the year and it will flourish in shaded spots.
Interesting facts: It is the time of year for unwanted smellies and this stinker gets its name from the unpleasant, meaty odour its leaves give off when crushed. In his English translation of Rembert Dodoens’s A New Herbal, Henry Lyte pulled no punches, saying that the leaves were “of a lothsome smell or stinke”. For all this, it was widely used in medicine, valued for making poultices for drawing out splinters and the odd arrowhead. The powdered or infused dried root was found to be beneficial in the treatment of nervous complaints and to relieve cramp. It was also used as a cure for ringworm. However, it was found to be rather strong in its actions so fell out of favour.
“Aladdin’s slippers” is most likely caused by a bacterial infection