Abstract

Health evaluations were conducted in 2 captive colonies of Central American river turtles, Dermatemys mawii, from sites in Tabasco, Mexico: Government of the State of Tabasco's turtle farm (GOV) and Arroyo Tabasquillo turtle farm (TAB). Health assessments were conducted in February, May, and August. Each assessment included a group clinical history, physical examinations, serum biochemistry panels, and bacteriological analyses. Additionally, water quality of turtle ponds was analyzed monthly at each site. High frequency of shell lesions and other clinical signs related to a harmful aquatic environment were found at both farms. Serum biochemistry results include levels of urea in both farms that repeatedly exceeded reference values for this species and values greater than normal for total protein, uric acid, and triglycerides at TAB. Bacteriological results showed potentially pathogenic microorganisms in lesions, including Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Proteus vulgaris, Serratia spp., Klebsiella spp., and Candida spp. Water quality in both farms was poor; water at TAB presented the worse quality due to its high levels of total ammonia nitrogen (median 1.092 mg/l), nitrite (median 0.011 mg/l), fecal coliform (median 4600 MPN/100 ml), and water transparence (median 0.05 m) and low level of dissolved oxygen (median 0.6 mg/l). In general, the health of captive turtles was compromised at both farms, the most likely factors being inadequate water management, overcrowding, and dietary problems.

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