This study was carried out at Colombia lagoon, Chinchaka’ab lagoon and Xtakún lagoon in the Ecological Reserve of Punta Sur in Cozumel Island, Mexico. A total of 35 wild American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) were captured and sampled. Values of hematocrit, red blood count, white blood count, heterophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils and azurophils were determined from blood samples of 18 individuals. Mean normal values and ranges of these parameters are close to those reported for the species in captivity. Blood eosinophilia was detected in 16 (88.9%) individuals and could be due to the presence of Hepatozoon spp., a hemoparasite identified in 15 (42.9%) of the 35 crocodiles. Cloacal and oral cavity swabs were collected from 33 specimens of different size/age classes: eight yearlings, 18 juveniles, three sub-adults and four adults. We isolated and identified 19 bacteria from oral cavities and 14 from cloacal cavities. The more frequent bacteria isolated from oral samples were Arcanobacterium pyogenes, Aeromonas hydrophila, Streptococcus agalactiae and Moraxella cuniculi, and the more frequent from cloacal samples were Escherichia coli, Aeromonas hydrophila and Salmonella arizonae. This study is the first report of cloacal flora of wild American crocodiles and the second report for oral flora.1 All crocodiles captured in this study showed no clinical signs of disease, but under certain circumstances some of the bacteria isolated could be pathogenic. Several oral bacteria isolated could also cause septicemia in humans after being bitten by a crocodile.
The authors would like to thank Fundación de Parques y Museos de Cozumel for their hospitality and support in this study.
1. Cupul-Magaña FG, Rubio-Delgado A,Reyes-Juárez A. La mordida del cocodrilo americano (Crocodylus acutus), ¿es potencialmente séptica? Rev Biomed. 2005;16:65–67.