Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Reptile euthanasia - No easy solution?

Warren, K.ORCID: 0000-0002-9328-2013 (2014) Reptile euthanasia - No easy solution? Pacific Conservation Biology, 20 (1). pp. 25-27.

Free to read:
*No subscription required


Reptiles are commonly studied in biological research projects, and wildlife researchers may be required to euthanize 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 straight forward 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 sodium 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. However, in Australia pentobarbitone sodium is a Scheduled 4 drug with requirements for locked storage, and users other than registered veterinarians must apply for authorization to administer scheduled drugs. Stunning followed by destruction of the brain is considered acceptable with reservations in some small species of snakes and lizards, where these methods can be effectively accomplished. MS222 has been used in several species of reptiles, however further research is required to determine whether this technique is effective and humane across the diverse range of reptilian species. Humane euthanasia in reptiles is not easily achieved and, whilst recognizing 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 anaesthetized, and then euthanized by administration of pentobarbitone sodium or alternatively a combination of decapitation and brain destruction following anaesthesia.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Surrey Beatty & Sons
Copyright: © Surrey Beatty & Sons
Item Control Page Item Control Page