Neurologic examination of sea turtles

Cheryl L. Chrisman, Michael Walsh, John C. Meeks, Heidi Zurawka, Richard LaRock, Larry Herbst, Juergen Schumacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Objective - To determine whether neurologic examination techniques established for use on dogs and cats could be adapted for use on sea turtles. Design - Prospective controlled observational study. Animals - 4 healthy Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas), 1 healthy Kemp's ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempi), and 6 Green Turtles suspected to have neurologic abnormalities. Procedure - Neurologic examinations were performed while sea turtles were in and out of the water and in ventral and dorsal recumbency. Mentation, general activity, head and body posture, movement and coordination, thoracic and pelvic limb movement, strength and muscle tone, and tail movement were observed. Thoracic and pelvic limb flexor reflexes and nociception, righting response, cranial nerve reflexes, clasp and cloacal reflexes, and neck, dorsal scute, cloacal, and tail nociception were tested. Results - Results of neurologic evaluations were consistent for healthy sea turtles. Sea turtles suspected to have neurologic abnormalities had abnormal results. Clinical Implications - Many of the neurologic examination techniques used to evaluate dogs and cats can be adapted and used to evaluate sea turtles. A standardized neurologic examination should result in an accurate assessment of neurologic function in impaired sea turtles and should help in evaluating effects of rehabilitation efforts and suitability for return to their natural environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1043-1047
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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