Seventeen recently trapped opossum, Didelphis virginiana, (median weight 2.45 kg; range = 1.6–5.0 kg; quartiles = 1.8–3.3 kg) were immobilized with either telazol (15 or 30 mg/kg) or a mixture of medetomidine (100 μg/ kg), butorphanol (0.2 mg/kg), and ketamine HCl (10 mg/kg) based on estimated weights. Anesthetized animals were subjected to cardiac puncture for blood withdrawal and toe pinch. Euthanasia was accomplished by intracardiac administration of 1 ml of concentrated pentobarbital sodium/phenytoin solution. Weights were underestimated for 14 of 17 animals, but were within 0.5 kg of the actual weight. Both drug combinations provided rapid and calm immobilization. Median time to recumbency for the medetomidine–butorphanol–ketamine group (n = 5) was 6 min (range = 4–10 min; quartiles = 6 and 8 min). The median time to recumbency was not statistically different for the low (n = 6) and high dose (n = 6) telazol groups, 3 and 3.5 min respectively (quartiles 3; 3.5 and 4; 5.5 min). The stronger heart beat with telazol immobilization facilitated cardiac puncture. All five animals administered the medetomidine–butorphanol–ketamine mixture and three of six animals given the low telazol dose reacted to cardiac puncture. Only one of six animals given the estimated 30 mg/kg dose of telazol reacted slightly to cardiac puncture. We conclude that 30 mg/kg telazol provides sufficient immobilization and analgesia to allow accurate cardiac puncture of the opossum if the procedure is performed within 5 to 10 min of recumbency. Intracardiac administration of concentrated pentobarbital sodium/phenytoin solution followed by bilateral thoracotomy provides appropriate euthanasia suitable for field situations.
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