Grey Seal Pups
pups are suckled on land by their mother. However, the pup is in
great danger when left exposed on the beach. These dangers include:
Dangers to Pups on the Beach
This is probably one of the most common
hazards. This can happen on the large spring tides or if the
pup is disturbed and frightened into the water.
If there is a lot of disturbance on the
beach, the cow will not return to the pup.
Young pups are particularly prone to
infections, especially to the eyes and respiratory tract.
Cows may abandon their pups due to
inexperience or disturbance on the beach. Without regular
feeding, the pup will die in 3 to 4 days.
Ill or weak pups are very susceptible to
predation by crows and gulls. They usually kill them by
pecking their eyes out.
possible that you might come across a Grey Seal Pup as you take a
stroll along a rocky seashore any time during the months October to
December. What should you do?
What Should I Do?
Observe from a distance until the next full
tide, unless it is obviously sick or injured. Interference
too early may prove fatal.
How Old is the Pup?
Unweaned (less than 3 weeks old).
Grey coat: Weaned (more than 4 weeks old).
Wet umbilicus: Less than 3 days old.
Dry umbilicus: 4 - 7 days old.
Less than 3 foot long: - This year's pup.
More than 4 foot long: - At least a year old.
If the pup is unweaned, check for the mother
at sea. This may take some time.
Does The Pup Look Well Fed?
Malnutrition is the most common
condition encountered. Unweaned pups seperated prematurely
from their mothers have inadequate reserves to fall back on
after weaning and often succumb to malnutrition.
If you can see the underlying bones (the pelvic bones
parrticularly), the pup is underweight. After the first week
of life, pups should be well rounded, with no obvious neck
and no visible bones.
Does the Pup Look Healthy?
A healthy pup should NOT exhibit
Heavy or noisy breathing. (Normal respiratory rate is 5
- 15 per minute)
Continual coughing or sneezing.
Very runny eyes and nose (N.B. A small amount is often
Cloudiness or damage to the surface of the eyes
Wounds (cuts, grazes, abscesses)
Sealpox lesions occur primarily on the flippers, abdomen
worry if the pup is quiet. It is probably asleep and will
remain so until approached closely. If the pup appears well
rounded and healthy and, in the case of an unweaned pup. the
mother can be seen, leave it well alone and make sure other
people do so as well. The only exceptions to this are; rough
seas, marauding dogs and curious people.
Never Put A Pup Into The Sea
pups are not good swimmers and older pups may be hauled out for a
If the pup is obviously ill, suffering respiratory problems or is
definitely abandoned, it should be rescued.
Rescuing A Pup
Approach the seal from behind. Bites from a seal or pup
can be very dangerous.
Lift the pup onto a blanket by its hind flippers.
Move it in the blanket as quickly as possible to a
clean, well ventilated and draught free box or shelter.
Pups should be able to lie off the ground on a rubber
mat or timber pallet.
NOT provide loose bedding, since ingestion may prove fatal.
DO NOT provide heat such as a heat lamp or
electric heater. If the
animal is very cold, towel off excess water and use a
heater for a very short time, just long enough to take
chill out of the air.
DO NOT use disinfectant without veterinary
DO NOT use cows milk or baby milk on seal pups.
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