1MSc Wild Animal Health Program, Royal Veterinary College, UK; 2Instituto de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade Paulista, São Paulo, Brasil; 3Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brasil
South American prehensile-tail porcupines are arboreal herbivores from the family Erethizontidae that occupy most of South American territories. Six wild adult animals (three Coendou prehensilis and three Sphiggurus spinosus) were captured during the pre-filling phase of the construction for a small hydroelectric power dam. The animals were immobilized with ketamine hydrochloride (10 mg/kg), acepromazine (0.05 mg/kg) and midazolam (0.3 mg/kg) intramuscularly for field clinical procedures, including complete physical exam, marking, blood collection, and biometry. In all individuals induction was smooth and uneventful. Muscle relaxation, response to stimulus, analgesia, and depth of anesthesia were excellent for Coendou porcupines and moderate for Sphiggurus porcupines. All Sphiggurus porcupines needed some additional physical restraint. Recovery occurred without psychomotor disturbances and every animal remained calm until normal ambulation resumed. Sphiggurus porcupines seemed more resistant to the protocol used, but a slight change in dosage resolved the issue. Two Sphiggurus porcupines were immobilized with ketamine (15 mg/kg), acepromazine (0.1 mg/kg) and midazolam (0.3 mg/kg) and with excellent results and unremarkable immobilizations, similar to the successful Coendou protocol. Based on these results, the anesthetic protocol appears safe for both species. The protocol is recommended for routine management and medical procedures at the lower dosage for Coendou porcupines and the higher dosage for Sphiggurus porcupines. As this is the first report of this particular species-specific difference in drug response in wild South American prehensile-tail porcupines, additional research is needed.