Gruesome Gapeworms

Gruesome Gapeworms

An emaciated tawny owl came into our care recently after being found at the roadside looking unwell. After a check-over by our team, we found the cause to be gapeworms. Gapeworms (Syngamus trachea), are a parasitic nematode that can lead to complete obstruction of the windpipe, then leading to suffocation.

Gapeworms typically live in earthworms, slugs and snails so when these are ingested by a bird, the gapeworms then use the bird as a host and begin their lifecycle.

Thankfully, this owl got to us in time and with treatment over a course of 5 days, the gapeworms have completely cleared up! Although not yet ready for release until at least 2-3 weeks longer, he is on the way to a full recovery.

The following video shows a gapeworm moving inside of the tawny owls mouth – it is a little gruesome!

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