Journal of wildlife diseases

Comparison of biochemical stress indicators in juvenile captive estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) following physical restraint or chemical restraint by midazolam injection.

PMID 23778605


Using a prospective, randomized study design we demonstrate that midazolam sedation minimizes acidosis compared with physical restraint in captive juvenile estuarine crocodiles during handling or noninvasive procedures at preferred body temperature. A dose of midazolam (5.0 mg/kg) was administered intramuscularly into the forelimb of 20 male estuarine crocodiles weighing 2-3.5 kg. Their heart and respiratory rate and degree of sedation were monitored until recovery and then daily for 7 subsequent days. Blood samples were taken at 30, 60, 90, 180, and 360 min. We recorded lactate, partial pressure of carbon dioxide (CO2), hematocrit, glucose, and blood pH. A second group (1.9-2.6 kg) was physically restrained for 5 min and the same parameters recorded. Physically restrained animals demonstrated elevated heart rate, respiratory rate, glucose, lactate, and anion gap compared with the midazolam-treated group. Physically restrained animals had lower pH, bicarbonate, and partial pressure of CO2 compared with the midazolam-treated group. Behavior in the physically restrained group in the days following the study was disrupted, with reluctance to feed and bask, compared with midazolam-treated animals whose behavior was normal. We conclude that midazolam administered in the forelimb of captive estuarine crocodiles of 2-3.5 kg provides predictable onset and duration of sedation enabling physical examination, sample collection, and translocation of the animals with minimal disturbance to lactate, pH, and CO2. Behavior following recovery appears normal.