The effects of decreased body temperature on the onset, duration and action of medetomidine and its antagonist atipamezole in juvenile farmed estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus)
Article first published online: 21 FEB 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia © 2013 Association of Veterinary Anaesthetists and the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia
Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia
Volume 40, Issue 3, pages 272–279, May 2013
How to Cite
Olsson, A. and Phalen, D. (2013), The effects of decreased body temperature on the onset, duration and action of medetomidine and its antagonist atipamezole in juvenile farmed estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus). Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia, 40: 272–279. doi: 10.1111/vaa.12008
- Issue published online: 12 APR 2013
- Article first published online: 21 FEB 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 11 MAY 2012
- Manuscript Received: 27 MAR 2012
- Wildlife Health and Conservation Centre
- North Queensland Wildlife Trust and Hartley's Crocodile Adventures
- Crocodylus porosus ;
- estuarine crocodile;
To determine the efficacy of medetomidine for immobilisation of captive juvenile crocodiles over a range of temperatures, and its reversibility with atipamezole.
Prospective experimental study.
Forty male estuarine crocodiles (body weight 2.0 to 4.8 kg).
Each crocodile was randomly assigned to one of four temperature groups: Group 1:32 °C; Group 2:27 °C; Group 3:22 °C; and Group 4:17 °C (n = 10 for each group). Medetomidine (0.5 mg kg−1) was administered intramuscularly (IM) into the thoracic limb of all crocodiles. After 50 minutes, all animals from each group received 2.5 mg kg−1 atipamezole IM in the opposite thoracic limb and time to recovery was documented. Heart and respiratory rates and the degree of immobilisation were monitored every 5 minutes until recovery, and behaviour monitored for 7 subsequent days.
Onset of immobilisation occurred at 15 ± 10 minutes in Group 1, and at 30 ± 10 minutes in Groups 2 and 3. In Group 4, animals were not immobilised. Recovery following atipamezole was 10 ± 5 minutes at all temperatures. One-way analysis of variance (anova) demonstrated a significant difference in induction times between groups (p < 0.01) but not in recovery times following atipamezole administration (p < 0.25). Heart and respiratory rates decreased markedly following medetomidine administration and increased markedly following atipamezole reversal.
Conclusions and clinical relevance
Medetomidine administered in the thoracic limb of juvenile captive estuarine crocodiles provides profound sedation or immobilisation at temperatures of 22 °C and above. Atipamezole administered in the contralateral thoracic limb results in consistent reversal of the effects of medetomidine and a return to normal behaviour within 15–20 minutes regardless of temperature. Even though immobilisation is not induced at 17 °C, profound reversible sedation does occur reliably and repeatably.