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Archiv 2009


Schildkröten im Fokus, Bergheim 6 (2) 2009: 22-29

James R. Buskirk, Oakland, CA, USA

Ratten!

Rats!



Abstract

Serial nocturnal attacks by brown rats (Rattus norvegicus), 3 days apart in March 2004, resulted in the deaths of 5 immature terrestrial chelonians (genera Terrapene, Testudo) housed outdoors. Another juvenile tortoise T. marginata recovered from serious injuries to the forelimbs as well as from a large perforation of the body cavity in the right axilla. Also attacked was a fully grown female Terrapene ornata which bore only superficial scratch marks at the bridge. This was the only wild-caught chelonian attacked, and with a carapace length of 125 mm, was slightly larger than any of the victims – all of which probably resisted the attacks, thus offering head and limbs to the voracious rats. Nonetheless this nearly unscathed box turtle expired 4 months later. The sole survivor was treated conservatively, without systemic antibiotic therapy nor gavage, and recovered fully within 4 months. The unpredictable hazard of rat attacks is discussed as well as means of providing security from such, via rodent-proof barriers. The danger is most keen for hibernating chelonians.


Key words

Testudines: housing, rat attack, treatment of the injuries

Author

James R. Buskirk
E-Mail: jrbuskirk@aol.com

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