Animal Health Update: Diagnostic MRI and CT Scans for Snake-Necked Turtle

by Leigh Clayton, Director of Animal Health

Published April 25, 2013

Recently, the National Aquarium's Animal Health team worked with Veterinary Imaging of the Chesapeake to perform a diagnostic MRI on our 17-year-old female snake-necked turtle.

Our snake-necked turtle undergoing a CT scan. Photo courtesy of Veterinary Imaging of the Chesapeake.

Our snake-necked turtle undergoing a CT scan. Photo courtesy of Veterinary Imaging of the Chesapeake.

The Animal Health team was initially alerted after exhibit staff observed the turtle basking more frequently. Increased basking, also known as environmental hyperthermia, is a potential indicator of either illness or egg laying. After radiographs confirmed that the turtle had no eggs, we decided to do a CT and MRI to diagnose what was causing the turtle to exhibit this abnormal behavior.

turtle x-ray

X-rays taken of the snake-necked turtle, courtesy of Veterinary Imaging of the Chesapeake.

Partnerships with organizations like Veterinary Imaging of the Chesapeake grant our team much-need access to the kinds of medical scanners that the Aquarium doesn't have on-site.

We're happy to report that both scans came back normal and the turtle did later develop eggs. She was moved behind-the-scenes for close observation, has laid two eggs so far and continues to do very well.

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