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Cross Contamination in a Chelonian Collection - Sharon Chancellor MT


Copyright 2003 World Chelonian Trust. All rights reserved

Animals that first arrive in a collection are generally stressed from shipping and/or substandard husbandry conditions from their prior residence. These animals need time not only to adjust to their new surroundings but also time for monitoring to be sure they aren't  suffering from some disease vector which can wreak havoc in the current collection. Quarantine is the method by which one separates newly received animals from the rest of a stable collection and is meant to minimize the introduction of disease into a healthy population.

The basics of quarantine are as follows:

1. Separate holding area-the animals should be kept in an enclosure/pen separate from the rest of the collection. Ideally this involves utilizing different rooms in the house or separate pens in different areas of the yard.

2. Separate utensils-do not swap brushes/bowls/cage furniture from the quarantine area with the stable collection area. Utilize separate equipment for each.

3. Work with quarantine animals last- feed, clean, and water the stable collection before taking care of the quarantine collection. This will help minimize cross contamination.

4. Visit a reptile veterinarian-this is especially important for wild caught animals, but I would recommend it for all new animals coming into a collection. Basic information that needs to be gathered includes a thorough physical examination, direct and float fecal examination, urine examination, and an accurate weight. Since
not all parasites show up in all fecals, a second and third fecal should be run as well. Depending on the species and the condition of the animal(s), such procedures as cloacal cultures, nasal cultures, bloodwork, and radiographs can also be performed.

5. Time frame-This is the quarantine question I am asked most often. My recommendation is a MINIMUM of 90 days with extensions as necessary depending on the condition of the animal(s).  Remember, many hardshell species can live to be over 100 years of  age. What are 90 days of proper quarantine compared to a
lifetime of enjoyment with your new addition(s)?

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