Medical records from 694 reptiles admitted to the Wildlife Center of Virginia (WCV; Waynesboro, Virginia, USA) from 1991 to 2000 were reviewed to determine causes of morbidity and mortality. Eighteen species were represented but the majority of cases were four species; eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina) (66%), eastern painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) (11%), common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) (10%), and rat snake (Elaphe sp.) (6%). There was a significant increase in reptile cases during the study period both in absolute number and in proportion to the total caseload. Trauma (74%) was the most frequent cause of morbidity and mortality followed by unknown or undetermined (13%), aural abscessation (7%), infectious diseases (2%), and one nutritional disorder (0.1%). In addition, 3% of the cases were healthy animals that had been removed from the wild and consequently brought to the WCV. Causes of morbidity and mortality differed between the four most numerous species. Impact with a motor vehicle was the most frequent cause of trauma for eastern box turtles, eastern painted turtles, and common snapping turtles; however, garden-equipment-related trauma was the most frequent cause for rat snakes. Aural abscessation was only seen in eastern box turtles. Eighty percent of cases occurred between May and September and 65% occurred within the five counties closest to the WCV. The majority of morbidity and mortality was the result of human activities. The expanding human population in Virginia likely will continue to have an impact on the health of wild reptiles.
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Vol. 38 • No. 4