Methods of body temperature assessment in Chelonoidis chathamensis (San Cristóbal Galápagos tortoise)

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Chelonoidis chathamensis is a species of chelonian endemic to San Cristóbal Island that is currently classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Parent et al. 2008. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 363:3347–3361;; 28 March 2018). As part of a population health assessment authorized by the Galápagos National Park (GNP), captive tortoises at the Galapageura de Cerro Colorado, a breeding facility and sanctuary located on the northeast side of San Cristóbal Island, were captured in March 2018. Veterinary health examinations were performed on each animal in accordance with the ethics and animal handling protocols of Galápagos Science Center (GSC) and Galapagos National Park. Since cardiovascular, respiratory, and metabolic systems of reptiles are affected by temperature, accurate measurements are of great importance in both captivity and research (Long 2016. Vet. Clin. N. Am. Exot. Anim. Pract. 19:567–590). Obtaining cloacal temperatures in C. chathamensis requires the animal to be placed in dorsal recumbency. This method places stress on the animal as well as the examiner. Accurate assessment of body temperature is an important part of general husbandry practices for captive reptiles and veterinary health examinations. Therefore, a less invasive and reliable method for monitoring body temperature is desirable. Many zoological facilities and exotic pet owners have begun using infrared temperature guns to assess ambient temperatures of reptile enclosures, but there are currently no studies assessing the efficacy of these devices for measuring the body temperatures of reptiles. By comparing the infrared body temperature measurements of tortoises against simultaneously collected cloacal temperatures obtained using a thermocouple thermometer, we sought to assess the efficacy of this noninvasive method for obtaining body temperatures.

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Objective To evaluate latency and duration of a brachial plexus block technique in eastern box turtles performed with 2% lidocaine at three dose rates. Study design Prospective, randomized, blinded crossover study. Animals Adult eastern box turtles, two for drug dose evaluation and a group of six (three male, three female) weighing 432 ± 40 g (mean ± standard deviation) for the main study. Methods Animals were randomly assigned to four brachial plexus blocks with lidocaine at 5, 10 and 20 mg kg⁻¹ or 0.9% saline (treatments LID5, LID10, LID20 and CON, respectively), separated by 1 week. Treatment side was randomized and blocks were performed unilaterally. Baseline observations of mentation, heart rate (HR), respiratory rate (fR), skin temperature and limb response to manipulation or toe pinch were evaluated. Assessments were made every 10 minutes until 1 hour of normal sensory and motor function to the treated thoracic limb, or for a total of 2 hours if no block was evident. Results Motor and sensory blockade was achieved in treatments LID10 and LID20 in one turtle, with a latency of 10 minutes and duration of 50 minutes for both doses. Raising of the ipsilateral lower palpebra occurred with both blocks. Turtles administered lidocaine experienced higher HR compared with CON, and HR decreased over time for all individuals. Mentation and fR were not changed with any lidocaine dose. Conclusions The technique was unreliable in producing brachial plexus motor and sensory blockade at the lidocaine doses evaluated in this study. HR was higher in lidocaine-treated turtles but remained within normal limits for the species. No change in mentation or fR was observed among treatments. Clinical relevance General anesthesia with systemic analgesia is recommended for surgical procedures involving the chelonian thoracic limb. Further studies are needed to optimize a brachial plexus block in this species.
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