Capture Myopathy in Wild Animals


Photo courtesy of 50 in 50 Marathon Quest

It’s been a strange week.  The Motivator has been in Wisconsin at an EPIC convention all week, and our son AJ and I have been left to our own devices.  Needless to say, this has not been a heavy volume running week for me.  I managed my treadmill workout on Tuesday, but I’m missing a 5-miler and a 3-miler in there somewhere.  AJ and I have been occupying our spare time watching You Tube videos that he enjoys.  He has favorite You Tubers that he watches daily, and I thought I’d check them out with him.  Oh… my…  I should’ve been running.  And oh yes, first day of school was Wednesday.  The child has gone from “I hate school” to “I love school” because the teacher announced there would be no homework this year.  Woo hoo!  AJ’s not the only one celebrating!!  But I digress… tonight I’m here to talk about wildlife…

We’ve been getting a lot of calls at the facility this week about deer.  They’re sick, have broken legs, and/or mom doesn’t seem to be around anymore.   Realistically, deer can only be rehabbed when they’re fawns.  Once they hit about 6 weeks of age, the fear of humans and everything else sets in, and treating deer older than that can do more harm than good.


Deer (and wild bunnies) are food in nature. And they know this.  Therefore, everything terrifies them.  If we were to contain a deer that has a broken leg to try and fix it, it could then develop a very real condition called capture myopathy.  Capture myopathy is a white muscle disease to where instead of oxygen being used in muscles, stored energy is used, which then leads to a buildup of lactic acid, which in turn enters the bloodstream.  If the heart doesn’t pump enough oxygen through the bloodstream, the muscles start to die, leading to all kinds of complications. There is no coming back from this.  Sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes it draws out for a couple of weeks.

Imagine this… when you, as a person, get scared, your body starts producing adrenaline in order to give you the “fight or flight” response necessary to survive.  We’ve all felt this and know what it’s like.  Now imagine being in a constant state of “fight or flight” for 24 hours or more. How taxing do you think that would be on your heart?  This is what happens when a wild animal is captured.  They don’t realize you’re trying to help them.

As for the deer issues I mentioned above… if it has a broken leg, determine if it can still get around on its other 3.  There are many 3-legged deer out there who survive just fine.  If it can, then leave it alone and let it be.  If, however, it’s laying down on its side and actively dying, the absolute best thing for it is to either let nature take its course or to call a state trooper or sheriff to put the animal out of its misery.  To think a broken leg on an adult deer can be fixed is just being naive (think what a horse goes through when it breaks a leg, then think about a deer going through that with the added stress of capture myopathy).  And at this time of year, if you don’t see mom around anymore, it’s okay.  By the time fawns are weaned, mom has taught them enough about survival and foraging that they can survive on their own, without mom.

As well, wild bunnies are so high stressed and fragile that you can look at them wrong and they die if they’re in captivity.  A lot of good-intentioned people think they can “rehab” bunnies on their own.  After all, they’re just bunnies.  No, actually, they’re not.  They’re wild animals.  When you think the wild bunny has finally relaxed and “allowed” you to touch it… in reality they’re frozen solid with fear.  It’s cruel and inhumane to keep a wild bunny in a cage and to treat them like a domestic… they will eventually die from capture myopathy.  Guaranteed.  If you come across a hurt bunny, please take it to your nearest rescue center.  It’s their only hope of getting back to the wild where they belong.

My hope here is to educate people that every hurt animal cannot necessarily be rescued, nor does it need to be. Nature is very cruel, but sometimes it’s just best to leave well enough alone. If you are unsure as to whether an animal should be rescued or not, please call your local rescue center. And please don’t be surprised if their answer is to just let nature take its course. Sometimes it’s the kindest thing for the animal.


The clinic manager’s bunny that I love babysitting and spoiling… this sweetie is a domestic, but he still hates being caged…


11 thoughts on “Capture Myopathy in Wild Animals

  1. chasingdownhealthy

    I love that you share this kind of information, it’s so important! I was educated about 7 or 8 years ago by our local wildlife rehab center when I accidentally uprooted a baby bunny nest. I panicked, and put them all back (they were about apricot size) only to have them all bolt again. I called out of concern and was educated on how mom feeds them (once a night? what?) how early they are left to fend for their own, and how I should just leave them be. I was thankful for the information, and I wish more people would ask professionals before intervening. I know I’ve told you before, but I admire what you do.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. neveradullbling Post author

      Thank you Dawn. I agree… this information needs to get out there so more people understand just what happens in the wild and how different those animals are from the ones we keep as pets, even though they can be just as cute. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Rebecca Royy

    Thanks for the interesting post. I encounter a lot of deer on my early morning runs. I heard one snort the other day before I saw it….scared the bejesus out of me!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. aidyl93

    How sad for them, I hadn’t ever heard of Capture Myopathy, thank you for all the information! I remember having domesticated pet rabbits when I was younger, and one time the dogs scared them and my mom sat with them for an hour calming them down and making sure they were all right. First time learning about how fragile a little bunny’s body and mind can be, and I bet that’s super amplified when they’re wild! I hope they all stay safe and people will learn the do’s and don’t’s of wildlife. Your posts definitely help! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wenaissance

    I had no idea about the Capture Myopathy but you can bet I’ll think twice before rescuing an animal in the wild. You’re right, nature can be cruel but it’s also an amazing thing and as humans we need to respect it for what it is. Thanks so much for the great information.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. neveradullbling Post author

      Thanks Wendy!! I’m glad the info was helpful!! But… if you see a bleeding or sick animal or even a bird that’s hurt, don’t hesitate to contain it and take it somewhere for help! 🙂



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