Skin disease affecting the conservation of the western swamp tortoise (Pseudemydura umbrina)

J. M. Ladyman, G. Kuchling, D. Burford, W. Boardman, S. R. Raidal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To review the present position of the western swamp tortoise (Pseudemydura umbrina) as an endangered species and significant health issues affecting efforts to save it from extinction. PROCEDURE: A retrospective analysis of the husbandry, hospital and pathology records of the western swamp tortoise captive breeding program at Perth Zoo. RESULTS: In 1987 a captive breeding project was developed to prevent the extinction of the western swamp tortoise but an outbreak of a necrotising dermatitis in 1989 threatened the survival of the captive bred hatchlings. Less severe outbreaks occurred in 1990 and 1993, with isolated cases in between. Of 283 tortoises that were born in captivity or came into captivity from the wild, 37 (13.1%) were affected, comprising 37% of all males, 26% of all females and 13% of animals of unknown gender. Of the affected animals, 70% were less than 2 years of age and 29% were older. Males were 1.6 times more likely to be infected than females but this difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.27). Culture of the lesions consistently yielded unidentified Pseudomonas sp. CONCLUSION: Improved husbandry, such as strict maintenance of water quality and temperature conditions similar to that of the animal's natural habitat, and monitoring the health of individual tortoises have successfully controlled skin disease in the captive breeding of the western swamp tortoise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-745
Number of pages3
JournalAustralian Veterinary Journal
Volume76
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1998

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