Autopsy Reports

This page contains photographs that might be upsetting to some,
and could be deemed to be too graphic for younger people.

We haved posted these photographs
with the intention of helping those caring for Australian wildlife.



Rocky (Western Grey kangaroo)
Died - 20th June 2004
Rocky at Roo Gully
Rocky eyes just open

Rocky came into Roo Gully while Carol was away and so, after an assessment at Roo Gully, he was taken into care by Deb, another carer.

Deb's Report:

Date: 17th June 2004
Weight: 450 grams
Fed: Wombaroo 0.4 - 6 x daily @ 14mls per feed (Total 84 ml per day)
Picked up from Roo Gully. No signs of injury, appearing a strong healthy joey. Eyes closed, ears folded.
Feeding 4 hourly - 7:00am, 11:00am, 3:00pm, 7:00pm, 11:00pm, 3:00am.
Housed in humidicrib and oiled with Eucerin ointment.

Date: 18th June 2004
Weight: Not weighed
Fed: Wombaroo 0.4. 6 x daily @ 10mls per feed (60ml) going by weight chart on formula pack.
Has developed diarrhoea. Bright yellow, so colour ok and smells normal but too loose. Dropped amount of formula by 24mls daily to combat but still think it may be too much or the wrong formula for the stage of the joey. Urinating well and skin supple and moist. Oiling skin daily. This joey may need to be on an earlier stage formula.

Date: 19th June 2004
Weight: 400 grams
Fed: Wombaroo 0.4 changing to <0.4. Added 3 grams of IMPACT to daily feed. From 3:00pm feed changed to <0.4 @ 10 x 6 (60mls).
Loss of 50 grams. Diarrhoea has thickened slightly but still not abating. Urine has slowed down but may be included in pouch soiling so not sure how much is being passed. Diarrhoea has gone on for too long and concerned about dehydration and nutrient loss although Rocky is still strong and lively and skin supple and moist.

Date: 20th June 2004
Weight: 374 grams
Feed: Wombaroo <0.4. Increased IMPACT to 5 grams daily feed.
A weight loss of 76 grams. Skin still supple but baggy due to weight loss and dehydration. Diarrhoea has still not abated, he is refusing to suck and losing strength. Rocky is not expected to survive if this continues.
Rocky died about an hour before his 11:00pm feed.

Humidicrib Settings:
Top Temp:
o Reasonably constant 34-350C

Hot water bottle temp:
o 34-350C with bag resting on padded bottle

Both globes on, turned down over ½ way on dimmer switch

Bottom trays
o 1 x filled with boiling water
o 2nd x topped up ½ with boiling water
This seemed to keep temp fairly constant over the 4 hour periods without too much steam.

Rocky had received the best care possible, with around the clock feeding,
a good diet and constant heat and humidity,
and although we could not analyse his blood or perform other tests,
we decided to perform a simple autopsy in the hope we would find a reason for his death.

Like all marsupials orphaned in road accidents, Rocky had received some injuries.
These photographs compare his right and left cheeks,
and you can see the bruising on his left cheek between the eye and ear.

He also came into care with an unusual indentation
that seemed to almost circle the top of his right arm,
but again no obvious fracture was evident.
It was only when we opened his abdomen that we found
what we think could have been the cause of death.
Although there was no blood inside the peritineal cavity,
there was definite bleeding in Rocky's small intenstine.
Many young joeys die from slow internal bleeding following road accidents,
but without having access to specialist equipment or performing exploratory surgery
we often never know what is going on inside until it is too late.

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Rosie (Western Grey kangaroo)
Died - 9th December 2001

Rosie pretty

Rosie healthy

Rosie sick

Rosie just before death

Roo Gully Report sent with Rosie's body to Murdoch University in Perth - 10th December 2001

August 1998: - Orphaned - road accident - came into care - 2 kilos

8th January 2000: - Gave birth to first joey - female

9th August 2000: - Tried to cross the creek - joey drowned in the pouch.

December 2000: - Rosie left Roo Gully to run with the bucks.

January 2001: - Returned - lacerations inside of legs - partially healed cuts circling throat - suspect caught in wire fence. We also removed a large tick from under her cloaca, heavily engorged with blood.

8th January 2001: - Gave birth to second joey - female - Anxious mother second time around.

March/April 2001: - We witnessed first unusual behaviour episode.
Rosie was asleep under bush, stood quickly, slid down stone steps on chest. Didn't seem aware of what had happened. No injuries sustained and seemed to recover almost immediately.
However the next day the kangaroos spooked and Rosie suffered what we can only assume to be a stress myopathy incident. Staggered when walking, bipedal movement, vacant stare/expression, seemed unaware of her surroundings. This lasted all day. Treated with Dexamethasone. Slow recovery over the next few days.
From this time on Rosie had occasional episodes of not knowing where she was, vacant stare, unaware of anything around her. We suspected epilepsy - or maybe some damage to the vessels in her neck probably sustained when previously caught in wire fence. However we were never able to make a definite diagnose.

July 2001: - We first noticed swelling under both arms. Vet examined these but was unable to make a definite diagnosis, and it was advised we take samples and send for pathology. However before that could be carried out our vet became seriously ill with Q Fever.

28th November 2001: - Jake, another roo in care at Roo Gully - born 2000 season, was found with severe swelling to left side of face. Left arm became swollen and sacs of fluid developed on his chest. Suspecting a bite, and anaphylactic reaction, we treated him with Dexamethasone. Jake recovered fully after 48 hours.

9th December 2001: - We found Rosie staggering, face badly swollen, tongue swollen.
Even though he was not fully recovered from his illness Jules kindly advised us by telephone throughout the day.
Rosie was treated with an initial injection of Dexamethasone - 2mls. Plus an injection of Multi Vits - 1ml.
No improvement.
4 hours later we administered 0.5mls Ilium Depredil.
No improvement.
Approx 5pm Rosie began to have problems clearing her nasal airway. She sneezed and snorted trying to clear her nose.
After another telephone consultation with Jules I set off to pick up a dose of Nyramin.
Rosie died before I got back. She staggered forward, stretched, tried to leap and died.

Examining Rosie after death we found what looked like bruising on the inside of her lower lip, but do not know if this was caused by a bite or sting, and if so inflicted by what creature.

Our vet has asked that Rosie's body come to you for autopsy because we need answers.
We need to know if it was an anaphylactic reaction what animal or plant was responsible. We are currently caring for 28 other macropods, including a Brush Tail bettong and a Western Brush wallaby, and obviously want to prevent, if possible, anything similar happening to one of them. Because Jake had a reaction to something only a few days before Rosie could they be connected?
Could all of the mysteries surrounding Rosie be related to the tick we removed a year ago?
If it is an infection of some kind it is of vital importance we know. Until we do Roo Gully is now closed to all new admissions, and the day care and holiday stay help we provide to other carers in our region has been suspended until we get any findings from you.

If it would assist in any way we have video footage of the tick we removed from Rosie, the stress myopathy incident, Jake's reaction to whatever and of course footage of Rosie's condition on her last day. Please let us know if this would help, and we can send a copy of the footage to you.

We thank you for your time in reading this and for your help.


Pathologist - Dr. Shane Raidal
Status: Post mortem decomposition: Moderate.
Submitted history: Sudden facial swelling.

Significant internal findings:
(H01-999) There was severe extensive subcutaneous oedema and haemorrhage affecting bilaterally symmetrically the facial, neck and dorsal back regions. There was marked oedema and haemorrhage around the trachea and larynx. The meninges were severely congested and haemorrhagic. Cultures of liver, brain, heart blood and subcutaneous tissue yielded heavy mixed growths including streptococci and enterobacteriacae. Testing for snake venom of urine was negative.

Histopathological findings:
There was severe haemorrhage and necrosis of the facial dermis, hypodermis and fascia with a myriad of bacterial colonies and neutrophilic inflammatory cellular infiltration. Aggregations of bacteria were present within the vessels of the brain, spleen, liver and other organs.

Final diagnosis:
Severe necrotising cellulitis and septicaemia.

If you would like to share Rosie's life
please go to Rosie's Tale

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Ruth ( Western Grey kangaroo)
Died - 14th April 2001
Consulting Veterinarian Dr Jules Vandenbergh's Report:

Clinical summary:
This kangaroo has a long history of ill thrift and relative listlessness. Inappetence. Weight at time of post mortem was 10kg (20-25kg normal for age). Dull staring coat and depigmentation of hair around eyes.
Intermittent periods dry skin.

o Late February 2001 was found uncoordinated and intermittently semicomatose. Loud clicking sounds were noted coming from hip joints but no crepitus was palpated. I.V. fluids were administered (2 litres Hartmans over 2 days). Urine normal. Blood was taken but unable to do biochem because of severe haemolysis. Severely extended clotting time.
Presumptive diagnosis: Warfarin toxicity although no known access. Vit. K and multivitamins were administered. Marked improvement. ½ml Stanazol (=25mg Stanozolol) was administered. Sent home with instructions to confine to a compound as access to toxins in environment was suspected.

o Overall improvement but still slow and listless and at times appeared very disoriented. Two weeks after treatment started to deteriorate again. Improved the ration and wormed with Abamextin pour on. Vit E/Selenium and Copper was administered. Remained stable but no major improvements.

o 15.04.01 a slough wound was noted on right thigh. Presumptive diagnosis: reaction to Vit E/Se injection. Local anaesthesia was administered around the wound (7ml 2% Lignocaine) as the patient was not deemed to be suitable for general anaesthesia. Approximately one minute into surgery patient started to hyperventilate, spasm and opisthotonos and eventual death.

o This kangaroo has never come into oestrus; may have had access to treated pine shavings (arsenic?) and has eaten a whole passionfruit shrub over a period of time.

o Presumably the cause of death was a reaction to lignocaine or stress.

o The main object of postmortem is to attempt to establish if there is any evidence of chronic toxicity. There is another kangaroo (1yo) from the same place which is beginning to show similar signs.


Pathologist - Dr. Mandy O'Hara, Bsc Hons, BVMS, MACVSc

Submission: Necropsy samples of liver , lung, heart, kidney, brain and spinal cord.

Histopathological findings:
1. Brain: Sections were taken through the thalamus and overlying cortex (H01-272B+E); cerebellum and brainstem (H01-272D); and spinal-cord (H01-272C). There was moderate autolytic degeneration with diffuse congestion and oedema of the neuropil and leptomeninges.
2. Kidney: (H01-272A). There was moderate autolytic degeneration. Moderate multifocal mineralization of glomeruli and tubules was evident throughout the cortex and medulla. Tubular epithelium contained moderate amounts of brown granular pigment resembling hemosiderin.
3. Lung: (H01-272A). There was marked, diffuse autolytic degeneration. Mineralization of bronchi, bronchioles and interalveolar septae was prominent throughout the tissue submitted. A moderate, diffuse infiltrate of hemosiderin-laden macrophages was evident in interalveolar septae and most respiratory bronchioles were ectatic.
4. Liver: (H01-272A). There was a small amount of hemosiderin pigment within Kupffer cells.
5. Heart: (H01-272A). No abnormality detected.

1. Moderate to severe, diffuse pulmonary and renal mineralisation.
2. Mild to moderate, diffuse, acute congestion and oedema of the brain and leptomeninges.

The extensive renal and pulmonary mineralisation are suggestive of metastatic calcification due to hypercalcaemia. Possible causes of hypercalcaemia include hypervitaminosis D, skeletal disease, hyperparathyroidism, renal disease, granulomatous disease and paraneoplastic syndrome. The most likely cause would be hypervitaminosis D either due to iatrogenic administration, or associated with toxic plant ingestion, eg. Cestrum diurnum, or a Vitamin D rodenticide.

Roo Gully Comments:

Although Ruth's carers searched their property for any evidence of rat poison and toxic plants they did not find any. However we do know that Ruth had access to dog biscuits, which are quite high in Vitamin D, and have seen similiar problems in other kangaroos that have also had access to dog or cat biscuits.
We now warn carers to keep all dog and cat biscuits away from macropods.

Ruth was staying at Roo Gully because her carers were away on holiday. She had been a very sick kangaroo for many months and although everyone knew her days were numbered, her actual death was probably hastened because she was among strangers when we tried to treat the slough injury in her leg, and therefore suffered a capture or stress myopathy.
Now we always sedate kangaroos with Diazepam before attempting any stressful procedure.

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