Roe deer has curled toes

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - SPORTING ANSWERS -

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

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