Dexmedetomidine, a highly selective α-2 adrenergic agonist and dextrorotary enantiomer of medetomidine, was combined with ketamine and used to immobilize 14 free-ranging Choloepus hoffmanni (Hoffmann's two-toed sloths) and 11 Bradypus variegatus (brown-throated three-toed sloths) in Upala, Costa Rica. Following intramuscular injection of ketamine (2.1 mg/kg) and dexmedetomidine (11 μg/kg), heart rate, respiratory rate, and indirect systolic blood pressure were measured every 5 min for a total of 25 min. An iStat (CG8 ) was used to evaluate serum biochemical and hematologic values during anesthesia. After 30 min of anesthesia, atipamezole (0.13 mg/kg) was administered intramuscularly, which resulted in rapid and smooth recoveries. Mean heart rate and respiratory rate remained unchanged in both C. hoffmanni and B. variegatus over time. Progressive decreases in mean indirect systolic blood pressure were documented in both species. Results of this study suggest a combination of dexmedetomidne and ketamine is a safe and effective anesthetic protocol for use in free-ranging C. hoffmanni and B. variegatus. Similar to other α-2 adrenergic agonist-based immobilization protocols, close monitoring of cardiovascular and respiratory parameters are recommended. This study also provides serum biochemical and hematologic data in free-ranging C. hoffmanni and B. variegatus.
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