The objective of this study was to characterize the behavioral effects and changes in heart rate of four doses of alfaxalone delivered by intravascular injection to blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus). Thirty (male, n = 27; female, n = 3) blue crabs were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups of alfaxalone: eight animals were assigned to each of the 5-, 10-, and 15-mg/kg treatment groups, and the remaining six animals were assigned to the 100-mg/kg group. Times for anesthetic induction and recovery periods were recorded. Righting reflex, defensive posturing, and heart rate were evaluated before, during, and after the anesthetic trial. Anesthesia was induced in all 14 animals consolidated into the high-dosage group (15 mg/kg [n = 8] and 100 mg/kg [n = 6]), which was significantly greater than 8 of 16 animals in the low-dosage group (5 mg/kg [n = 2] and 10 mg/kg [n = 6]). Median anesthesia induction time for all crabs was 0.4 min, with no significant difference in induction time between groups observed. Median recovery time was 9.4 min (n = 2), 6.1 min (n = 5), 11.3 min (n = 8), and 66.1 min (n = 5) for the 5-, 10-, 15-, and 100-mg/kg groups, respectively. Recovery times were significantly longer for crabs exposed to an induction dose of 100 mg/kg compared with the 10- and 15-mg/kg induction doses. A significant decrease in the median heart rate was observed between the baseline value and that observed at both induction and 5 min postinjection in the 100-mg/kg dose trial. Two mortalities were observed during the anesthesia trials (n = 1, 10 mg/kg; n = 1, 100 mg/kg), both associated with the autotomization of limbs. In summary, the intravascular administration of alfaxalone at 15 mg/kg provided rapid and reliable sedation, whereas alfaxalone administered at 100 mg/kg produced rapid and long lasting anesthesia.
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