There are images of a poorly llama in this section of the blog – but don’t worry, he’s fine now.
Megaesophagus is a condition that affects the muscles within the lining of the throat which becomes abnormally enlarged, it is common in dogs, alpacas and llamas. It frequently occurs in instances of choking, whereby the throat muscles begin to dilate and expand. Signs of megaesophagus often include drastic weight-loss and frothing or foaming at the mouth. Neno our llama, unfortunately has this condition has to be continuously monitored at meal times. There are no treatments available for megaesophagus and it is a lifelong condition. Although flare ups are scary, when managed correctly, the prognosis can be fair. Neno has always suffered with condition, but after lots of studying, research and experience, Neno’s flare ups only usually last for 1-36 hours.
Neno rushed his food on Tuesday, which resulted in another episode. Immediate action was required, and our young people were quick to assist! Although each time this happens, it is quite traumatic, we were able to treat Neno as soon as possible in order to get him back on his feet. Our Island Project learners knew to get the kettle on and mix up some black tea (a natural anti-inflammatory) to which staff added some pain-relief. We isolated Neno in his shelter and massaged his neck. In earlier episodes, recovery time has taken as long as 2 weeks, but much to our delight, after 3 days of consistent treatment, he was back to his cheeky self!
I’m so impressed with our young people, they were able to remain cool, calm and collected throughout this emergency, enabling Neno to remain calm too and accept treatment. Neno has decided to trust us during his flare ups through lots of hard work and persistence. We truly are seeing the benefits of small actions like feeding him by hand and encouraging him to come up to the courtyard to eat under supervision, as without that, this story may have had a different ending.
He’s feeling great now, and even snuck out of his pen as soon as we’d switched the electric fence off this morning. He is usually quite impatient in a morning, patrolling the gate line and tapping the handles with his nose to remind us to let him out for breakfast. But this morning, and much to our surprise, he limboed under the fence and made his own way out and up to the courtyard for feeding!