Hematologic and Plasma Biochemistry Values in Free-Ranging and Captive Western Pond Turtles (Emys Marmorata)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2012

Krista A. Keller1, DVM; David Sanchez Migallon-Guzman2, LV, MS, DECZM (Avian), DACZM; Joanne Paul-Murphy2, DVM, DACZM; Sean D. Owens3, DVM, DACVP; Philip H. Kass4, DVM, PhD, DACVPM; E.P. Scott Weber III2, VMD, MS

1William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA; 2Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA; 3Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA; 4Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA


The western pond turtle is listed as a Species of Special Concern by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) and the species is limited to the west coast of the United States and Mexico, ranging from Washington state to northern Baja California.4 It is a common wildlife patient in veterinary hospitals and wildlife rehabilitation centers within its geographic range.2,4 Two populations in northern California, a free-ranging population from a university campus habitat (n=20) and a captive population from a zoological collection (n=10), were sampled in September 2011. Complete blood cell counts, plasma biochemistries, and Salmonella spp. cultures from cloacal swabs were performed. Individual parameter values that were noted to be significantly different between the two populations included heterophil, azurophil, eosinophil and monocyte counts, albumin, aspartate aminotransferase, calcium, glutamate dehydrogenase, globulin, sodium, total protein, and uric acid concentrations. Parameter values that were noted to be significantly different between male and female individuals within the free-ranging population included creatine kinase and phosphorus concentrations. Salmonella cloacal cultures from all turtles were negative and many of the values obtained in this study are similar to those published for other Emydid turtles.1,3,5,6 The hematologic and plasma biochemistry values reported for this free-ranging population may be used as reference interval for this species; however, differences between the two populations investigated highlights how factors including nutrition and environmental quality may induce changes in commonly evaluated hematologic and plasma biochemical parameters.


The authors thank and acknowledge Adam Clause (John Muir Institute of the Environment, UC Davis), Deana Clifford (CDFG), and the staff at the Micke Grove Zoo, Lodi, CA.

Literature Cited

1.  Brenner D, Lewbart G, Stebbins M, et al. Health survey of wild and captive bog turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii) in North Carolina and Virginia. J Zoo Wildl Med. 2002;33(4):311–316.

2.  Holland DC. The Western Pond Turtle: Habitat and History. Portland, Oregon: U.S. Department of Energy, Bonneville Power Administration; 1994.

3.  Innis CJ, Tlusty M, Wunn D. Hematologic and plasma biochemical analysis of juvenile head-started northern red-bellied cooters (Pseudemys rubriventris). J Zoo Wildl Med. 2007;38(3);425–432.

4.  Jennings MR, Hayes MP. Amphibian and Reptile Special Concern in California. Rancho Cordova, CA: Contract #8023. California Department of Fish and Game, Inland Fisheries Division; 1994.

5.  Knotkova Z, Dorrestein GM, Jekl V, et al. Fasting and post prandial serum bile acid concentrations in 10 healthy female red-eared terrapins (Trachemys scripta elegans). Vet Rec. 2008;163(17):510–514.

6.  Perpinan D, Hernandez-Divers SM, Latimer KS, et al. Hematology of the Pascagoula Map turtle (Graptemys gibbonsi) and the southeast Asian box turtle (Cuoro amboinensis). J Zoo Wildl Med. 2008;39:460–463.


Speaker Information
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Krista A. Keller, DVM
William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California
Davis, CA, USA

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