Four handling techniques commonly used with snakes and lizards in zoological park reptile collections were evaluated with respect to animal well-being. Adult male blue-tongued skinks (n = 3) and ball pythons (n = 4) were either handled gently, restrained manually, or container restrained for 10 min. The animals were then released into their enclosures for 15 min and blood samples were taken. At each sampling period, one animal served as an unhandled control. Plasma corticosterone (CS) levels, pre and post-treatment locomotor and consummatory activities, and heterophil/lymphocyte ratios were determined. None of the parameters evaluated differed significantly among treatments with the exception of CS levels in container-restrained pythons (56.2 +or- 6.7 ng/ml), which were higher than those of controls (37.6 +or- 6.1 ng/ml). Brief periods of handling in captivity thus do not appear to cause chronic stress in the study species, although container restraint did appear to result in short term stress in pythons.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Department of Poultry Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA.|
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