A safe and effective anesthetic regime for use in arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) cubs was developed. During July 1996, six free-ranging 6–8-wk-old cubs were captured near their den in Vindelfjallen Nature Reserve, Sweden. Medetomidine and ketamine HCl, followed by atipamezole, were selected for the anesthetic trial because of the well-documented safety and efficacy of this drug combination in a broad range of species. The dosage regimen used was 50 µg/kg medetomidine combined with 2.5 mg/kg ketamine followed by reversal with 250 µg/kg atipamezole. Induction was rapid, with a mean induction time of 1 min and 32 sec (range: 58–150 sec). The cubs were anesthetized for a mean time of 18 ± 5 min (range: 13–25 min). Serially recorded heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, and pulse oximetry were stable throughout the anesthetic period for all cubs. Anesthetic depth was suitable for safe handling and minor clinical procedures, including venipuncture. Following atipamezole, all cubs were standing within 12 ± 7 min (range: 5–24 min) and fully recovered at 27 ± 5 min (range: 19–36 min). This information will be useful for future captive breeding and management programs involving the endangered arctic fox.
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Vol. 31 • No. 2