Ozark - the Australian Wildlife Carer's Information & Communications Network

Sun - Sep 03


By Dr Anne Fowler

(Standard veterinary method)


  1. To look for internal parasites such as roundworms, strongyles.

  2. To look for coccidia oocysts.

  3. A faecal float will not identify bacteria or yeasts.


  1. Faecal floatation liquid, which is a zinc sulphate solution. This strong salt solution allows the eggs to float to the top of the fluid.

  2. Glass slide, coverslip.

  3. Microscope.

  4. A faecalyser which has 3 parts to it:
    a): Small narrow tube 5cm high.
    b): A cubic cm cup that holds the faeces.
    c): A coarse strainer.

The equipment could be purchased from a veterinarian.

  1. Collect 1 gram of faeces. 1 gram will fill the cup. Marsupials can provide enough, however small birds may need a number of faecal pellets. The test could be performed with less, but may be less accurate.

  2. Faeces should be "hot and steamy" in other words, fresh is best. Old faeces dry out and some eggs will be damaged.

  3. Once the faeces are in the cup, push the tube onto the cup.

  4. Fill half way with faecal floatation fluid. Stir to break up the faecal ball.

  5. Once the contents are mixed well, push the strainer into the tube.

  6. Finish filling the tube with floatation fluid.

  7. Place a coverslip over the top of the tube.

  8. Leave for 20 minutes.

  9. Transfer the coverslip to a glass slide.

  10. Examine under the low power of a microscope.

  11. Worm eggs are seen under the 4x power, and coccidia (for the untrained eye) are best seen at 10x power.

  12. Coccidian will look similar to pollens and plant material.

Two different types of faecalyser

Available from vets or vet suppliers
Photos By Kathryn Keen

Coccidia 10x

from Red Kangaroo
Photo By Enid Latham


By Enid Latham

First, you need to purchase some faecalysers to do the test. Your vet should sell them to you for about $3 each. The zinc sulfate solution is about $20 a litre. Or you can take some ordinary cooking salt and make a saturated solution, and then the cost is just the salt. This works very well, and as I do hundreds of tests a year, a vet advised me to use it because I use so much and don't charge for the tests.

Firstly, you take a small amount of faeces and a little salt solution. Crush the faeces and stir well. Add the strainer and then top up the solution until you have a convex on top. You must have that on the top.

Leave to stand for 5 minutes, so that the faeces settles, then place the slide on top, being careful not to get too many bubbles. (Air bubbles come up like round black balls). The reason I leave the faeces to stand for 5 minutes before placing the slide on top is that it gives time for any blood or large matter in the faeces to settle, which will make the slide easier to read. This is particularly helpful when testing dark samples.

Place slide on top and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

Lift the slide, place the slide cover over the area you have just done. It is easier to find coccidia under a 40x magnification than a 10x. (See photos). Remember, coccidia must have a definite centre if not sporalating, and more if sporalating.

Unsporalating oocysts have a round centre that looks like crystal glass. Unsporalated oocysts are not infective. They have to go back into the ground and be ingested before sporalating. The sporalated oocysts are those that have come out of the ground and are ready to infect an animal.

Coccidia 20x

from Red Kangaroo
Photo By Enid Latham

Coccidia 40x

From Eastern Grey Kangaroo
Photo By Enid Latham

Coccidia 40x

From Eastern Grey Kangaroo
Photo By Enid Latham

Click microscope photos to see enlarged view.

Note : There have been 8 strains of Coccidia identified, which the Eastern Grey Kangaroo can contract. Some range from extremely tiny and round in shape, to egg shaped, or to oval "jelly bean" shaped. Whilst they may vary in shape and size, all will have a definite outline.

We have found that the three smaller strains of Coccidia appear to be the most deadly. Very small oocysts are extremely easy to miss. They may be partially concealed behind other matter in the slide. You need to be very conscientious and thorough in looking for Coccidia in faecal floats.

If you have ANY doubts or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. We can check the samples to confirm your findings or can help with advice. If you wish to send a sample to be tested, a pellet can be stored in the fridge in a film canister, and placed in a sealed plastic bag. Stored in the fridge, Coccidia can remain for 5 years. Samples sealed in a film canister can be posted in a padded postage bag. Contact me on 02-68872102 for more information and details on how to send in a sample.

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