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Leg lesions in garden birds peak during winter - study
Chaffinches are the most likely garden bird to be seen with leg lesions, but the condition is also reported less commonly in a number of other finch species.

Virus and mites identified as source of the lesions 

Reports of leg lesions in British finches peak during winter, according to a new study by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

Commonly known as ‘scaly leg’ or ‘tassel foot’, these lesions are growths on the legs and feet, seen in finches in Britain and mainland Europe.

Leg lesions in chaffinches are one of the most frequently reported signs of ill health in garden birds, but there has been no large-scale studies of the condition until now.

ZSL vets looked at data from volunteers taking part in the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden BirdWatch survey.

Findings published in Scientific Reports suggest that, each week, 3-4 per cent of people recording chaffinches saw a bird with leg lesions in their garden. There was widespread distribution across Britain, with a peak in cases from November to March. This is thought to be down to the annual influx of migratory chaffinches from mainland Europe.

Chaffinches are the most likely garden bird to be seen with leg lesions, but the condition is also reported less commonly in a number of other finch species, including brambling, bullfinch, goldfinch and greenfinch.

Results from post-mortem examinations of more than 1,000 finches suggest there are two causes of this type of lesion - a virus (Fringilla coelebs papillomavirus) and mites (Cnemidocoptes). Both are thought to be transmitted through contact, so good hygiene measures are recommended, including cleaning bird feeders.

Image © John Harding/BTO

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ZSL London Zoo shares animal X-rays

News Story 1
 A selection of X-ray images showing the inner workings of frogs, turtles, snakes and geckos have been shared by veterinary surgeons at ZSL London Zoo.

Taken as part of a routine health check, the images have been shared as part of ‘Vets in Action’ week - a hand’s on role-playing experience for children that explores the life of a zoo vet.

ZSL London Zoo veterinary nurse Heather Mackintosh said: “It’s great to be able to share the work that goes on behind the scenes at the Zoo to keep our residents in tip-top condition – and our visitors are always amazed to find out more about their favourite animals.” 

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Vets in developing nations given free access to BSAVA’s online library

BSAVA has teamed up with the WSAVA, the WSAVA Foundation and FECAVA to offer vets in developing nations free access to its online library.

The Association’s ‘Foundation Collection’ is comprised of more than 70 hours of articles, lectures and book chapters covering topics such as basic handling skills, working on a budget and emergency triage. Some of the countries set to benefit include Albania, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania.

Nicolette Hayward, of BSAVA International Affairs Committee said: “Our mission is to promote excellence in small animal practice through education and science, so we are delighted to work with WSAVA, the WSAVA Foundation and FECAVA to share these high-quality resources to the veterinary profession in low and middle-income countries.”