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Morbidity and mortality of invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals at a major exotic companion animal wholesaler

By S. Ashley, S. Brown, J. Ledford, J. Martin, A. E. Nash, A. Terry, T. Tristan, C. Warwick

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Abstract

The authors formally investigated a major international wildlife wholesaler and subsequently confiscated more than 26,400 nonhuman animals of 171 species and types. Approximately 80% of the nonhuman animals were identified as grossly sick, injured, or dead, with the remaining in suspected suboptimal condition. Almost 3,500 deceased or moribund animals (12% of stock), mostly reptiles, were being discarded on a weekly basis. Mortality during the 6-week "stock turnover" period was determined to be 72%. During a 10-day period after confiscation, mortality rates (including euthanasia for humane reasons) for the various taxa were 18% for invertebrates, 44.5% for amphibians, 41.6% for reptiles, and 5.5% for mammals. Causes of morbidity and mortality included cannibalism, crushing, dehydration, emaciation, hypothermic stress, infection, parasite infestation, starvation, overcrowding, stress/injuries, euthanasia on compassionate grounds, and undetermined causes. Contributing factors for disease and injury included poor hygiene; inadequate, unreliable, or inappropriate provision of food, water, heat, and humidity; presumed high levels of stress due to inappropriate housing leading to intraspecific aggression; absent or minimal environmental enrichment; and crowding. Risks for introduction of invasive species through escapes and/or spread of pathogens to naive populations also were identified.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 17
Issue 4
Pages 308-321
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2014.918511
Language English
Author Address Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Dallas, Texas, USA.cliffordwarwick@yahoo.com
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

Tags
  1. Aggression
  2. Animal ecology
  3. Animal health and hygiene
  4. Animal housing
  5. Animal nutrition
  6. Animals
  7. Animal welfare
  8. Biological resources
  9. Cannibalism
  10. Dehydration
  11. Diseases and injuries of animals
  12. Ecology
  13. emaciation
  14. Enrichment
  15. Euthanasia
  16. Humidity
  17. Hygiene
  18. Introduction
  19. Invasive species
  20. Invertebrates
  21. Mammals
  22. Mathematics and statistics
  23. morbidity
  24. mortality
  25. overcrowding
  26. pathogens
  27. peer-reviewed
  28. Pets and companion animals
  29. Reptiles
  30. starvation
  31. trauma
  32. vertebrates
  33. Wild animals
  34. wildlife
  35. wildlife diseases
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed