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Reptile euthanasia: No easy solution?

Warren, K. (2012) Reptile euthanasia: No easy solution? In: ANZCCART Conference 2012 - Thinking Outside the Cage: A different point of view, 24 - 26 July, Perth, Western Australia.

Abstract

Reptiles are commonly the subjects of biological or ecological research projects, and veterinarians or wildlife researchers may be required to euthanase a reptile if it sustains a severe injury associated with the research. When conducting euthanasia of any animal it is critical to confirm death. Whilst in mammals and birds euthanasia and confirmation of death can easily be accomplished, in reptiles these are not straightforward processes due to reptilian poikilothermic biology and physiology. Many traditional methods of reptile euthanasia are controversial and recommended methods of acceptable euthanasia vary amongst the different reptilian orders. Physical methods of euthanasia involving hypothermia or decapitation alone are considered inhumane and are not acceptable methods of euthanasia. Injectable pentobarbitone sodiuln is considered an acceptable method of euthanasia for all reptiles, except large crocodiles and other large reptile species where carcass removal in the wild may be problematic e.g. sea turtles. However, pentobarbitone sodium is a Scheduled 4 drug with requirements for storage in a locked environment and users other than registered veterinarians must apply for authorisation to administer scheduled drugs. Stunning and destruction of the brain is considered acceptable with reservations in some species of snakes and lizards. Humane euthanasia in reptiles is not easily accomplished and, whilst recognising limitations in accessing veterinary anaesthetic and euthanasia drugs, it can best be assured by using a two-stage euthanasia process - whereby the reptile is initially anaesthetised, and then euthanased by administration of pentobarbitone sodium or decapitation and brain destruction following anaesthesia.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/10406
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