• James E Aarons DVM

Darting Equipment: Fear of Failure, Chapter 35


Long distance sedation can be accomplished with a pressurized dart that is jabbed, blown, or shot into an animal.

The dart blowgun is my most useful tool. The dart syringes come in various sizes to allow different amounts of medicines. They have a front chamber loaded with the vaccine, the medication, or the anesthetic. The back chamber is pressurized to inject the medication when it penetrates the skin.

Blowpipes come in different lengths. I use these to dart animals caught in cages I can't reach with the jab stick.

Here's a jab stick. It's easy to use; just walk up to the animal and poke it. But be prepared to run off if you piss the bugger off.

The tips of the needles that penetrate the hide are sharpened metal hollow needles with side ports. Regular hypodermic needles are hollow metal tubes with end ports. These darts need to have side ports because a small but tight rubber sleeve covers these ports, ensuring the medication doesn’t leak out of the pressurized syringe until the point penetrates the skin. That's when the rubber sleeve is pushed backward freeing the pressurized medication from the now open ports.

I practiced blowing empty darts through the tube at a target to become more accurate. The first time I used the dart gun was for vaccinations. Another time Alan called me out because two servil cats the size of ocelots escaped their enclosure. Luckily they realized they were in unfamiliar territory and took their places sunning themselves on top of their cage. We found the escapees leisurely stretched out twenty feet above us looking as if they hadn't a care in the world. Loading a dart, I grabbed the blowgun with both hands, brought it to my lips, and exhaled sharply sending the dart flying at one of the cats.

PFFT!

It was a direct hit!

"That was great, Doc!" Alan exclaimed exuberantly, slapping on my back, excited as all get out, as if I was Babe Ruth hitting his millionth ball.

I'd already prepared a second dart, quickly loading this one I puffed again. Another direct hit!

After a few minutes, the cats became immobilized, and we returned them to their enclosure. The quick and direct immobilization impressed Alan and gave me lifetime bragging rights.

I use this whenever I'm on TV or in a helicopter. It's also useful for those animals in pasture that won't come closer than ten yards.

Slide the orange silicone sleeve onto the needle so that the injection holes are located at the centre of the sleeve. This can be achieved by rotating the needle whilst exerting pressure on the sleeve.

Using a suitable syringe filled with the required tranquilizing/medicating liquid slowly inject the drug into the chamber. Ensure that you use a sufficiently small gauge needle to allow air from the drug chamber to be expelled without displacing the drug.

Mount the hypodermic needle onto the dart syringe boss using pliers and locate it firmly by rotating it slightly whilst applying pressure.

Hold the dart vertical with the needle/protection cap uppermost. Mount the DAN-INJECT coupling adapter onto a dry standard 12 - 20 ml syringe. Introduce 13 ml of air into the syringe, (correct air pressure for a 3 ml dart). Connect the syringe securely to the air chamber of the dart and, with a smooth continuous action, inject the 12 ml of air into the dart air chamber.

Now 13 ml of air is let in to the syringe though the coupling. The red plunger will act as a non-return valve and retain the air within the dart.

WARNING: THE DART IS NOW PRESSURIZED AND EXTREME CAUTION MUST BE EXERCISED AT ALL TIMES. SAFETY CRITERIA MUST BE ADHERED TO

Last Chapter: Zoo Vet Next Chapter: Cat Bite Fever



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