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Treating extreme shell rot in Chelodina   - Darrell Senneke   

This photo article refers to a pair of Chelodina of an unknown species that were confiscated by a state Department of Natural Resources and given into the care of the WCT. Both animals were of good weight and very strong but compromised by major shell rot.  Two different methods of treatment were attempted. The initial treatments are shown below.     Both animals were subjected to repeat treatments on a weekly basis  interspersed with dry-tanking for 3 hours after each treatment along with daily 100% water changes for 5 months. Acriflavine was added to the water for the entire treatment period excepting the first week (when it was not available) . Silvadene cream was used to coat the wounds on a weekly basis in addition to the other treatments starting in week four.  After five months the rotted carapace scutes actually started popping off both animals, exposing not bone but new carapace under the old.   At that time the animals were transferred to the care of an individual very well versed in the care of this genus where they reside, in health,  to this day.

Treatment options - The following antiseptics were available to me at the time of first treatment.

Betadine (povidone-iodine 10%)

Nolvasan Otic solution (Chlorhexadine acetate)

Nolvasan Antiseptic ointment (Chlorhexadine acetate in a hydrophilic ointment base - this, for me, is a new discovery - it has served me very well in use on tortoises)

Povidone-iodine ointment 10% (Water resistant formula adheres to wounds even in harsh weather, intended for racehorses)

Wound-Kote  - This is the stuff that I think may have the best future in this use that I have found so far. It contains:
     Methyl Violet (gentian violet)
     Acriflavine
     Furfural
It is a quick drying deep penetrating aerosol antiseptic and germicidal dressing effective against most bacterial infections.

Blue Lotion  - This is the same as the above except it is in a handy dauber bottle allowing heavy application.

Malachite Green - fungicide

Triple antibiotic (never had much use for this other than direct wounds and bites)

In addition to this Silvadene cream and acriflavine are both being procured and will be used as treatment progresses.

 


Chelodina unknown species - male

The animal was active and eating well. The general appearance was active and very strong.
SCL    = 24.8 cm
SCW   = 17.5 cm
Weight =  2289.5 grams

Note the heavy algae growth on the carapace. 

 

The plastron shows large areas of deep rot. 
After cleaning the carapace appears worse than I thought. Large areas of scutes flaked of at the slightest pressure from the brush during cleaning. 
The plastron problems became more evident after cleaning  This will be treated over a long period of time. 
Large amounts of the material removed during debriding on the carapace was of a "crunchy" texture.
Parts of the plastron are soft to the touch. Again this can not be handled all at once and I believe that some sort of sedative will be necessary as well. 
Treatment consisted of a rinse with  Nolvasan otic followed by dilute betadine dip. The affected areas were then coated with "Blue Lotion", after drying the affected areas were sprayed with Newskin. 
Plastron after treatment. The animal was put in isolation and offered food which it accepted. 
 

Chelodina unknown species - female
 
 

The animal was reclusive - I have not seen it eat. The general appearance was active and very strong.
SCL    = 24.2 cm
SCW   = 17.3 cm
Weight =  2342.4 grams

Note the wound behind the left eye - this was fairly deep. It was cleaned and treated with betadine. 
 

 

The plastron shows large areas of affected tissue.
After cleaning the carapace appears worse than I thought. Large areas of scutes flaked of at the slightest pressure from the brush during cleaning.  But this appears to not be too active.
The plastron problems appear to not be as bad as thought. But there will be a long rehabilitation effort with this one as well. 
Carapace after debriding 
Plastron after debriding.  Not all of the affected tissue could be removed as this animal will also require sedation. Treatment consisted of a rinse with  Nolvasan otic followed by application of Nolvasan Ointment, the affected areas were sprayed with Newskin.  After returning to its isolation area this animal was offered food which it refused. 
 

 


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