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The haematology of bobtail lizards (Tiliqua rugosa) in Western Australia: reference intervals, blood cell morphology, cytochemistry and ultrastructure

Moller, Cheryl (2014) The haematology of bobtail lizards (Tiliqua rugosa) in Western Australia: reference intervals, blood cell morphology, cytochemistry and ultrastructure. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Bobtail lizards (Tiliqua rugosa) are native to Western Australia. Haematological evaluation is useful for health assessment: the only previous study of the haematology of this species sampled just six lizards (Canfield and Shea, 1988). The main aim of this study was to produce reference intervals for bobtail haematology.

Over the summers of 2011/12 and 2012/13, heparinised venous blood was collected from 46 clinically healthy, captive adult bobtails in Perth. Complete blood counts and blood smear evaluations were performed. Cytochemical stains, transmission electron microscopy, and bone marrow cytology and histology facilitated further characterisation of the blood cells. Reference intervals with 90% confidence intervals were determined using Reference Value Advisor freeware (Geffré et al., 2011). The packed cell volume (PCV) was 0.10-0.44L/L (n=40). Total plasma protein by refractometry was 36-74g/L (n=39). Haemoglobin was 20-154g/L (n=32). The manual red and white blood cell counts were 0.28-1.03x1012/L (n=38) and 2.75-30.76 x109/L (n=39), respectively.

Blood cell morphology was similar to that of other lizards - except the eosinophils which were uniformly vacuolated. A 200 cell leukocyte differential count was performed on each smear (n=46). Heterophils predominated (27-88%), with fewer lymphocytes (0-34%) and monocytes (1-27%), occasional eosinophils (0-22%) and basophils (0-20%). Thrombocytes were frequently clumped or present as bare nuclei. Slight polychromasia (0-7%) was typically present (n=45).

Many reference intervals were wide, particularly PCV, haemoglobin and white blood cell count. This was not unexpected as reptile haematology is influenced by many preanalytical factors.

Smears from 13 bobtails contained haemogregarine parasites, identified as probable Hemolivia species. There was evidence that this infection caused mild erythrocyte pathology.

The reference intervals were applied to the haematology of seven bobtails hospitalised with upper respiratory tract disease. Six bobtails possessed haematological evidence of inflammation. Thus the reference intervals appear to be clinically useful for the haematological assessment of captive bobtail lizards.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Notes: Research Masters with Training
Supervisor(s): MIlls, Jennifer and Gaal, Tibor
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