Authored by experts in the field: Terry Norton, DACZM, Director/Founder of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and Jeanette Wyneken, PhD, this article is part of a unique series on sea turtle veterinary medicine and wildlife rehabilitation. Physical examination of the head and neck are covered including eyes, adnexa, ears, nares, beak, the oral exam, throat, and cervical vertebrae. Normal findings that reflect adaptations to a marine lifestyle are reviewed and unique findings seen in green (Chelonia mydas), flatback (Natator depressus), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempi), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), and olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) turtles are discussed. LOGIN to view references.
Part of a unique series on sea turtle veterinary medicine and wildlife rehabilitation, this article explores many components of the sea turtle physical exam. Evaluation of the shell is discussed in both cheloniids and leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) as well as assessment of the cardiopulomonary system, skin, long bones and joints, cloaca and tail. Evaluation of the coelom by inguinal palpation is described as well as measurement of body temperature. Specialized testing such as neurologic and in-water examinations are also described. Common physical examination findings like fibropapillomas in green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and epibiota in loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) are also discussed. LOGIN to view references.
Weight trends can be a helpful indicator of hydration and nutritional status in veterinary medicine and wildlife rehabilitation settings. This article explores body weight and body measurements in the green (Chelonia mydas), flatback (Natator depressus), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempi), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), and olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) turtle. Subjective and objective body condition scoring systems used during physical examination are described and examples ranging from emaciation to obesity are illustrated. The relationship between carapace length and sea turtle sexual maturity is also discussed. LOGIN to view references.
Sea turtles are adapted to their marine environment, and they possess unique anatomic and physiologic features that influence their restraint and handling in a veterinary medicine or wildlife rehabilitation setting. Techniques for handing small and large sea turtles are described as well as recommendations for handling aides and cautions to prevent iatrogenic injury. LOGIN to view references.
Jeanette Wyneken, Ph.D is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Florida Atlantic University, where she has worked since 2000. Dr. Wyneken’s focus is integrative biology, comparative anatomy, and functional morphology and she has studied sea turtles for over 30 years. Jeanette earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1988. She is a member of the International Sea Turtle Society, the Society for Integrative Biology, Loggerhead Marinelife Center, and the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.
Debilitated sea turtles are often too weak to be housed in water upon presentation to a veterinary medicine or wildlife rehabilitation setting. Instead these patients are maintained on a padded surface or waterbed. Once the turtle is stronger, it should ideally be transferred to a rehabilitation tank. LOGIN to view references.