Archive | April, 2011

Violet Ground Beetle

30 Apr

Bunty found this beetle whilst geocaching, and we were both so enamoured by its Cadbury-purple trimming that I picked it up and tried to pose it for a photo. Damn thing wouldn’t keep still. It crawled round and round my hand, up and down my sleeve, and tried to hide in my armpit. Still, we managed in the end, although the colour here isn’t as rich and iridescent as in real life.

According to my field guide, this is the most common type of ground beetle on the British Isles. I’m sure I would remember if I had seen one like this before. How have I managed to go so long without spotting one?

My field guide also says that the violet ground beetle has many subspecies. The two most important are Carabus violaceus, with a stout body and smooth wing cases, and Carabus purpurascens, with a narrow body and furrowed wing cases. They tend to be found in woodland.

This one has a narrow body and smooth wing cases. It was hiding in an ants’ nest under a rock on the Sherrifmuir moorland. Wouldn’t it be fun if it turned out Bunty had uncovered a new subspecies?

A Moon Caught in His Eye

26 Apr

Exactly two weeks ago, I noticed a strange white shape inside Broccles’s eye. I had been watching for changes ever since his eye injury in February that led to all those vet visits. Now, he had a tiny moon waning inside his eyeball.

I called the vet in the morning, and booked an appointment. When she examined it, she said, “There’s a possibility that it might be E. cuniculi. Have you heard of this?”

I certainly had. E. cuniculi is a protzoan parasite which can damage a rabbit’s nervous system and/or internal organs, eventually killing it. Prevention is preferred to treatment, since by the time symptoms are noticed, it is often too late to save the rabbit. When Bunty and I had first adopted Broccles, the vet (a different vet) had given us medicine to prevent E. cuniculi. She had explained that it was advisable to dose all new pet rabbits with it, just in case.

We’d had to dose him every day for a month. This had entailed Bunty catching him and holding him while I squirted funny-smelling paste down his throat with a syringe. To say he didn’t enjoy this is an understatement. Every day his reaction was more violent. We got covered in scratches and he entirely forgot his litter training. Bunty and I had felt like torturers. Here was our lovely new rabbit, not yet settled in, and we were submitting him to this.

Bunty had looked online for advice. We learned that there is a tasty version of the medicine which can be put in their food. So, at the end of Week One, we had stopped dosing the poor creature and resolved to let him settle in for a bit and then try him with the tasty stuff.

Then he had injured his eye and it had seemed better to sort that out first. Then my uncle went into intensive care, and then I’d had to catch up at college, and… the medication had ended up on the back burner.

Now here was a moon in our rabbit’s eye, and the vet was taking blood samples. His veins were so small that it took three attempts. Three of his legs now have little shaved ovals where the needle was inserted.

Since then, I have been dosing him with the Tasty Medicine. He loves it. As far as he is concerned, Lapizole Time is Treat Time. We also have cream for his eye. He doesn’t really like having that applied, but sits patiently while I do so and tries not to blink. He seems to understand that I am trying to help him.

We received the blood test results today. Broccles has E. cuniculi. Having it in his eye means he caught it from his mother when he was a kitten, and it has lain dormant until now. His eye is the safest place for the parasite to be: the worst-case scenario is that he will have his eye removed.

I don’t want him to lose his eye.

Frolic, Damn You!

26 Apr

The thrushes and tits and finches were singing their heads off all afternoon. I propped open the back door for the cats and rabbit to go out and play in the sunshine. Broccles flolloped out without a moment’s hesitation, and spent the next several hours dancing. The cats watched him warily.

Of course, every time I pointed the camera at him, he stopped frolicking and began to eat the heads off a clump of dandelions instead…,

or dug at a molehill.

Finally, at dusk, I caught some frolics on video. Here they are.