Evaluation of the Use of Ketamine-Diazepam Combinations for Immobilization of African Land Tortoise (Geochelone spp.)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2017
Veronica E. Adetunji1, DVM, MVPH; John O. Ogunsola2, DVM, MSc; Olanike K. Adeyemo1, DVM, PhD
1Department of Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Aquatic and Wildlife Medicine Unit, University of Ibadan, Nigeria; 2Veterinary Teaching Hospital, University of Ibadan, Nigeria


Zoo and wildlife veterinarians and animal caregivers are constantly being exposed to persistent dangers when wild animals are restrained. This can result in physical attacks and possible spread of zoonoses in humans and in wild animals. Various forms of injuries and stress have been reported.1 Chemical immobilization in reptiles is unpredictable because of the ectothermic nature of the animals, and this has been said to be the cause of prolonged recovery from anesthesia.2 A safe and effective anesthetic protocol is essential for proper immobilization of chelonians and other reptiles. The anesthetic effects of concurrent administration of varied doses of ketamine with varied doses of diazepam were evaluated in 16 healthy land tortoises (Geochelone spp.). The animals were divided equally into four groups labelled A–D. Each group was administered a combination of ketamine and diazepam intramuscularly as follows: animals in group A received a combination of 44 mg/kg ketamine with 0.25 mg/kg of diazepam; animals in group B received 22 mg/kg ketamine with 0.25 mg/kg of diazepam; animals in group C received 44 mg/kg ketamine with 0.5 mg/kg of diazepam; and animals in group D received 22 mg/kg ketamine with 0.5 mg/kg of diazepam. Anesthetic effects were monitored every 10 minutes by using a pair of forceps to determine the animal’s ability to retract limbs when extended. Full extension of head and limbs was achieved within mean periods of 10 minutes, 15.5 minutes, and 13 minutes for groups A, C, and D, respectively. Animals in group B had only partial retraction and did not reach full extension of head and limbs; they were only sedated. Full recovery occurred in mean periods of 118 minutes, 25 minutes, 108 minutes, and 132 minutes for groups A, B, C, and D, respectively. For surgery that may last more than 1 hour, the combinations administered for groups A, C, or D may be used, whereas the combination administered in group B could only be used for sedation.


The authors thank the technical staff of the Department of Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine for their assistance during the research work.

Literature Cited

1.  Brothers B. Operational Guide for Animal Care and Control Agencies: Chemical Capture. Washington, DC: American Humane Association; 2010.

2.  Boyer TH. Clinical anesthesia for reptiles. Bull Assoc Reptilian Amphib Vet. 1992;2(2):10–13.


Speaker Information
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Veronica E. Adetunji, DVM, MVPH
Department of Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine
Aquatic and Wildlife Medicine Unit
University of Ibadan

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