When Food Can Be Fatal: Recovery from Emaciation


  • Diane Winn PhD Avian Haven




Refeeding syndrome, emaciation, starvation, wildlife rehabilitation


With the approach of winter, we can expect to admit increasing numbers of animals that have not been able to find sufficient food. With starvation comes emaciation—the loss of body fat and, as starvation continues, lean body mass. Progressive emaciation is sometimes categorized by amount of weight loss. However, the degree of emaciation in a given animal cannot be determined on the basis of body weight alone, because what is ‘normal’ for a given species depends on factors such as geographical location, time of year, and the sex of the animal. Gross signs of emaciation include prominent ribs (mammals) or keel (birds), and wasting leg muscles (reptiles).


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Author Biography

Diane Winn PhD, Avian Haven

Diane Winn is the co-founder and co-director of Avian Haven, a nonprofit wild bird rehabilitation center in Freedom, ME.


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How to Cite

Winn, D. (2006). When Food Can Be Fatal: Recovery from Emaciation. Wildlife Rehabilitation Bulletin, 24(1), 26–29. https://doi.org/10.53607/wrb.v24.187