Anyone seen this before?

Submitted by Jeff Z. on 4/14/02. ( )

Got in a scimitar the other day & the neck was larger than any I had seen before. I didnt measure the neck prior to caping out the head but estimating it at 28". After making the intitial incision, blood tinted water began to ooze out. I soon had a table full of this fluid & it covered the entire remaining neck, head & muzzle area. I measured the neck of the animal after caping & it measured 22" which is normal for an oryx. I have only seen this once before on an axis buck & coincedentally both animals came from the same ranch. Does anyone know what this condition is, what is the cause & what is the medical term? My client was very adimate about having the neck size correct.

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Could It Be Fluids?

This response submitted by Woody C on 4/14/02. ( )


I see this same situation with animals that have been hung by their back legs for extended periods. This causes all the body fluids to drain toward the lowest point (muzzle - head - neck). Raw neck size will usually be true but the thickness of the cape skin will appear thicker than normal.

If this could be your problem, simply hang the cape after skinning and the fluids will drain.

If this is not your problem, hopefully someone else will offer suggestions.

Its Hemagolben

This response submitted by John C on 4/14/02. ( )

I ask ask the county Coroner (Dr.Mclain) about this, he said the blood seperate almost inmediatly on death, there are some red cells than are basicly dead that are still carried by the hemogolben that could cause the red tint.


This response submitted by cur on 4/14/02. ( )

It is most likely lymphatic fluid, and it could be caused by a number of factors. The post-mortem breakdown of living organisms does include separation of blood into platelet residue and serum, but it would have a difficult time transiting the vascular system and entering the neck region. There would have to be an intersticial portal from a wound or knife cut to allow that amount of fluid to accumulate.

Your description is more indicative of lymphatic fluid than blood breakdown by-products. The condition could be caused by so simple a matter as cleaning the dead animal with a pressure washer or other high pressure water stream, thereby introducing water into the interstices by device. On the other hand, it could be localized injury or trauma or infection which created the condition. Personally, I would sample capture the material and submit it to the state fish and game folks for investigation and analysis. The fish and game staff of the state where the animal was taken should also be notified so that an inspection could be made to ascertain the cause.

My personal advice is to NOT treat that situation lightly. I have hung many an animal in my day, by the heads and by the hind legs. I have never seen fluid amass in either end of the carcass in the amount you describe.

As precaution, I would sterilize all tools, work surfaces and the floor where the fluid accumulated. Many times it is the preliminary observance of laymen like us taxidermists who notice the discrepancies or prima facie clinical evidence which are indicative of disease.

On the other hand...

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 4/15/02. ( )

I dont want to discredit these other responses. I have seen this fluid many times when necks are swelled. I see it with deer in early October and with exotics in almost any time of year that they are "in season". That fluid retention is the swell we see. Again, Im not contesting these other comments, but thats what I see it as, and theres more to come when you salt the cape! I also see this fluid retention on captive raised deer that die of capture myopathy, a type of stress breakdown due to complications during chemical immobilization...

Yeah, I've seen it.

This response submitted by Glen Conley on 4/15/02. ( )

The missing quotient here is, was the swelling present prior to death?
I would bet that it probably was.

In '88 I had a weanling filly slide in to a board fence head first at
an angle. This resulted in complete disintegration of two vertebrae
(C4,C5). This case history was heavily documented from day 1. I saved
the filly. The neck healed, but it was shorter, and had a "camel neck"
look after the fact. Fourteen veterinerians from two countries witnessed
this miracle. Extensive notes, photographs, and x-rays were made available,
but this case history was NEVER published.

Some how or the other this planet made it through to this point with out
Mans' helping hand. Preservation of a species was figured out before we
were ever born. The suspension bridge and hydraulic hose principles
were already there, all we had to do was copy and adapt to a different

The filly I used as an example above would have produced a bucket full
of fluids. Massive neck traumas are not uncommon in living animals.
The first two animals described could have just as well ran head long
into a chain link fence, or lost footing on a curve while riding in a
stock trailer. The axis deer could have well lost in a head-butting

Animal structure is form and function. Necks are a very important part
of locomotion. The head and neck in combination are one end of the see-
saw that shifts the center of gravity of an animal in motion. Study
the neck, starting with the vertebrae and working out to and including
the skin and you will find an absolutely amazing piece of gravity defying
work. The supra-spinous ligament serves as a core for the "suspension
bridge" of the neck. Injuries to this ligament and the other main muscle
and tendon structures can set off a quick inflamation and edema response
by the body in an effort to immobilize the injured structure. Bear in
mind you will have a particular response for a particular injury. A
massive edema as described above (assuming I interpreted this correctly,
with the edema being present between the neck muscles and the dermis)
would serve the purpose of a liquid (hydraulic) splint where the skin
would serve the same containment purpose as the walls of a hydraulic hose.

By adding the weight of a human to the end of the see-saw, like most
specifically, holding a cast or struggling animal by horns or antlers,
and bending the neck in a position that wasn't intended, could set up
the physical injury response.

I have often questioned the bio-chemical altering of a rutting animal's
neck. Is the additional "hydraulic support" provided to keep head-butting
animals from breaking each other's necks of the same chemical make-up as the
support that immobolizes injury?

This is a good post of shared observations, and I would love to see
more added to it. What Cur said is more true than most realize, it's
us guys in the camos that get to see more than the one's in the white

Good post is an added thought or three

This response submitted by cur on 4/15/02. ( )

I agree with you. As a wildlife biologist by education (MSB), I am probably as well qualified as any on the forum to make an analysis via observations noted during a necroposy - IF I am present at the actual operation! I hesitate to make them on the forum due to the wide variety of possible causative agents, pathogens and trauma that could lead to the condition. No Medical Doctor would ever jump into a typed forum and definitely diagnose illness or condition based on a description given by a layman. Our laymen do it all the time.

In the case outlined here, one would assume that the initial post was made by a taxidermist who has seen more than one game head come through the shop or across the workbench. The condition described was abnormal to him, and to me, as it was described. Not having been there to witness the event, sample the fluid or investigate for additional symptoms, much less get out the crystal violet and do some micro work, I figure that the best I can do is to make suggestions. There is a big difference between suggesting that the cause may be either "A", "B", or "C" and to diagnose without any observation and facts. To give the advice to sterlilize the tools and work area as a precaution is sound, all else is inane conjecture by us all.

The fluid should have been sampled and subjected to laboratory analysis and investigation. That would have been prudent and could save yourself and others great pain and suffering. The amount of fluid described in this post negated common causes. Most of the swelling in a rutting male's neck is not in the subcutaneous interstici, but endomusculure, and does not run out like a broken fire hydrant. I have no personal experience with oryx in the wild, or in pens. Perhaps an African game biologist could dismiss this incidence with a single breath. Unfortunately, the last time I checked, none of the responses came from someone who had a comprehensive history with the African antelopes.

The swelling of the cervical muscles in cervids and other ungulates during rut is caused by a number of factors. Among whitetail bucks, one contributing factor is the the butting and rubbing to excess and other homonal changes. Your theory about hydraulics is not bad, but hydraulic mass tends to amplify, rather than deaden shock, so that theory might be viable if the shock was to be sent to the scapular girdle for absorption by greater mass. It may not be coincidence that the increased levels of testosterone in the blood that elevate prior to the rut are associated with this cervical development. There may also be increased amounts of cortico-steroids or other enzymes and hormones which lead to the swelling. Even humans on prolonged steroid therapy develop swollen necks......(No horns, though the last time I checked.)

A number of conditions could cause the edema in the cervical area, one of the worst of which is anthrax. Certain mycto-bacillums and other pathogens can also cause localized swelling. Most have seconday indicators or are of themselves secondary indicators of a specific. CFT for BTb can cause radical reaction at the cervical test site and that could be another cause that only investigation could discover. The internal organs which could provide additional clues of disease or infection are usually long gone when the caped head arrives at the taxidermist's shop, leaving them out of the loop for preliminary investigation. Cervical edema could be caused by trauma as well, just as our necks swell when we strain them......but I digress.

A cause could be so simple as pressurized water leaking into the sub-cutaneous area via a cut or bullet wound. There are so many possibilities here that one should hesitate to diagnose across the miles and with the ignorance this typed word causes. The first word in the anthrax necropsy book is NEVER! When anthrax is suspected, necropsy is never done. My suggest is to treat all wildlife that enters the shop as if it were infected with something! Better safe than sorry. If the edema was caused by B anthracis, ole Jeff probably wouldn't have been around to read this post anyway, rendering it moot for him.

The only thing an oryx has in common with a deer is that they are both ungulates. Many diseases are cross-contaminates though and there may (and I say may) be routine whitetail diseases that cause radical reactions in some exotic species. Jeff did say that the oryx was the second case of this discharge he had observed from the same game ranch. That is the second clue I would need to open a full scale investigation.

This forum has many great features and posts. It is, however, neither a veternary clinic nor a laboratory devoted to the cause, effect and clinical evidence of zoopathogens. The participants here, myself included, are not qualified to make an instant diagnosis of a condition they have only read a thread about. My advice to the readers is to log everything abnormal found during taxidermy. Fluids which are massed in any area other than the bladder and other normnal reservoirs should be captured in a small vial or bottle for analysis. Any tumours or growths that look out of the ordinary should likewise be saved and turned over the the game biologists for inspection. After all, our hunting and fishing license fees and taxes pay for the services, so why not use them? Caution and safe handling practices could save your lives.........My suggestion is to develop a pathway for inquiry that leads through your local fish and game of agriculture services, and not through the laymen on this forum. After all, your personal health and the health of others is at risk anytime you put a blade to wildlife. I would much rather read a post that described the condition and the report you had received from your state fish and wildlife experts.....................Just some thoughts.

Look close

This response submitted by Mark Boll Precision Taxidermy on 4/16/02. ( )

Look at the cape very closely, you will more than likely see a faint blue line on the skin side. My feeling is that the animal was either tied, snared or had some type of constricting injury to the neck. Hasn't anyone here ever delt with snared or teathered animals. If not the next time you skin a predator caught in a leg hold trap, why is their water under the skin, on the catch foot, same goes with snared animals. You very rarely find the water problem with animal that die withing minutes. Cur knows what I'm talking about. Also sometimes on rutting bucks, that have been fighting, you will see a similar fluid..

ah hell...

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 4/16/02. ( )

Ive seen this too many times to sway from my original thought, call me bullheaded! Glen the swell I was referring to is for size, not shock absorbtion. The wider wedgie neck thats used during the rut for posturing. Hormones.


This response submitted by Bruce on 4/17/02. ( )

I've run into this a few times and was never quite sure what the cause was until this past season when two of my regular customers brought in two bucks together (these guys were brothers out on the same hunt). Both deer had the swelling and full of fluid. I asked if they were like that at the time they were shot and the answer was no. Come to find out, both bucks had been hung by their back legs and a bag of ice placed in their body cavity. I think this is most likely the cause at least in this case.

Gosh, I feel left out....

This response submitted by Lars on 4/17/02. ( )

over 20 years in professional taxidermy and seeing hundreds of rutting deer and Elk come into the shop and not ONE indication of swelling from excessive fluids of any kind, other than around trauma. And I mean fresh. Also have hung every animal I have personally harvested by the rear legs and never expeienced fluids congragating anywhere but immediate trauma sites. I'm with the responses that feel excess water was introduced in some fashion for cleaning or cooling.

Last note

This response submitted by cur on 4/17/02. ( )

I tend to swing with the water amassed from hosing out the carcass or other mechanical injection. That having been said, let me qualify that by saying that should not be an acceptable answer. I think it absolutely prudent to replace blind speculation with investigation in matters like this. A simple phone call to the game ranch, or interrogation of the hunter may be as far as one would have to go to discover the answer. Personally, whenever I did a necropsy on an animal and the scapel released a flow of any massed fluid, that was an "Ut Oh" for yours truly. I have seen large amounts of fluid that encapsulated some tumours and a liter or more once surrounding trauma associated with an old bodkin broadhead point that had broken off in the dorsal terminus of the quadriceps femoris on a whitetail buck.

All that conjecture aside. What Bill Yox referred to as "Capture Myopathy" is a condition that sometimes occurs when animals are captured. While stress can cause the condition, it is most often onset by immobilization via IM indrtoduced drugs. I saw a first hand example of that in South Africa when a rhino we darted died during transport from what was scrubbed off as "Capture myopathy". Necropsy later revealed the animal had regurgitated and sufficated as a result.

Myopathy is any disease or disorder of the neural or muscle complexes which cause them to weaken. Muscular Dystrophy is a form of myopathy. There are four categorical types of "Capture myopathy", none of which would seem to apply to this particular animal. The first, "Paracute capture myopathy", usually results in immediate or rapid death of the animal. This is caused by several simple physiological factors occurring silmultaneously. The second type is "acute capture myopathy" and that usually leads to heart failure caused by low blood ph, acidosis and potassium release by the muscles. The third type is "sub-acute capture myopathy" and usually results in kidney and muscle damage caused again by acidiosis. The Kiwi's (who do a lot of capture and moving of animals) call this condition "wryneck" which indicates the cervical posturing by afflicted animals. The fourth type is called "chronic capture myopathy" and animals so inflicted usually survive the short term, only to die later, usually of heart failure. Many times the forms of "Capture myopathy" are caused when antidotes or reversal drugs are not given darted animals or when temperatures exceed 80 degrees F and rapid heating of the mammal is caused by reduced blood flow and a build-up of lactic acid......It is something like the muscle crash experienced by human athletes. Enzootic ataxia can also cause "wryneck" and other myopathic conditions that resemble the capture trauma variety.

I would argue against the "Capture myopathy" theory for two specific reasons, Bill: One is that on most game ranches in the west, space is not a problem and species like the oryx roam free, inside enclosures which may be several square miles in size. Secondly, any animal that displays ataxia as a result of capture trauma would be so evidently sick that it's condition would be apparant to all but the most dufus hunters. That is not to say that a small sized operation might "arrange" an animal to be captured at another facility and moved into a killing "pen" as a result of a request by a booking hunter. An animal, so darted, transported and released might be in poor condition as a result of acidiosis and other factors, but if the "wryneck" condition or ataxia was evidenced, one would think the hunter would notice the problem.

My vote still goes with the introduced water, whatever the source. My POINT, however, is that no layman should ever take our word here on the forum as law. None of us are bright enough to make that diagnosis from the primary posting. It is prudent and wise to save fluids of this type and submit them for analysis. Taxidermists have a responsibility to self, if no one else, to safeguard health. The discovery made in the shop may lead to protection of others and a regional mammal herd in the long run. Like I always say. Every animal, bird or reptile that comes into my shop is suspect, and I take safeguards to protect my self and others.

Oryx Followup

This response submitted by Jeff Z. on 4/18/02. ( )

I wanted to thank all of you who offered advice on the oryx. After speaking w/the ranch owner, he informed me that they had indeed rinsed out the body cavity & allowed the water to remain for several hours.

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