Crooked Stump

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A goldfish has undergone surgery to fix his broken jaw using paperclips.

Stephen the greedy goldfish ran into trouble when he bit off more than he could chew attempting to eat a catfish.

Owner Shona Hingston returned home to find Stephen in distress with only the catfish’s tail sticking out of his mouth.

Luckily Shona, a peripatetic veterinary surgeon, flew into action cutting Stephen’s throat to remove the Cory catfish – who amazingly survived the ordeal.

The following day Stephen was rushed into surgery where Shona, 42, anaesthetised him before stitching up his throat and making a fixator out of plastic paperclips to hold his broken jaw together while it healed.

Remarkably the paperclip trick worked and the device was removed once his jaw had mended.

Stephen is now happy and back in his tank.

Shona, from Northumberland, operated on Stephen at Vets4Pets Cramlington where she was due to work the following day as a locum vet.

She has had Stephen for eight years and said she ‘Blue Petered’ the paperclip trick although still has no idea how slow-moving Stephen managed to catch the quick catfish.

She said: “I came home to find Stephen with only a tail sticking out his mouth.

“Nothing I did could move the fish, that I assumed was dead, so I cut his throat – I know that sounds awful but he was in real distress – and got the fish out.

“It was really badly damaged but alive so I kept him in a nursery tank with his friends to see if he would recover and he did.

“Stephen however now had a hole in his throat and had broken his jaw trying to swallow the fish.

“I anaesthetised him the next day, sutured his throat and put an external fixator made of plastic covered paperclips – because metal damages them – on his jaw.

“Unfortunately inside his mouth all the tissue was seriously damaged because catfish are sharp so I didn’t hold out a lot of hope.

“I put Stephen in a quarantine tank and syringe fed him until I could remove the fixator and I was satisfied he could feed himself.

“He is now back in his tank and thriving.

“Goldfish will literally eat anything, they are extremely greedy.

“It’s just the catfish are super fast and fancy goldfish are slow, so no idea how that happened.

“The anaesthetic is the tricky bit. And knowing that you can do more for all these animals than people think.

“Goldfish are not kids pets, they need loads of looking after.

“They actually need loads of space and they are intelligent, can recognise and remember faces and can even be taught tricks.”