Microbiological evaluation of different strategies for management of snakes in captivity
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Keeping snakes in captivity to produce venom for scientific research and production of inputs is now a worldwide practice. Maintaining snakes in captivity involves capture, infrastructure investments, management techniques, and appropriate qualified personnel. Further, the success of the project requires knowledge of habitat, nutrition, and reproduction, and control of opportunistic infections. This study evaluated the management of snakes in three types of captivity (quarantine, intensive, and semiextensive) and diagnosed bacterial and fungal contaminants. A bacteriological profile was obtained by swabbing the oral and cloacal cavities, scales, and venoms of healthy adult snakes from Bothrops jararaca (Bj) and Crotalus durissus terrificus (Cdt). There was predominance of Enterobacteriaceae, especially non-fermenting Gram-negative bacilli excluding Pseudomonas spp and Gram- positive bacteria. Statistically, intensive captivity resulted in the highest number of bacterial isolates, followed by recent capture (quarantine) and by semiextensive captivity. No statistical difference was found between Bj and Cdt bacterial frequency. In vitro bacterial susceptibility testing found the highest resistance against the semisynthetic penicillins (amoxicillin and ampicillin) and highest sensitivity to amicacin and tobramycin aminoglycosides. To evaluate mycological profile of snakes from intensive captivity, samples were obtained from two healthy Bj and one B. moojeni, one B. pauloensis, and one Cdt showing whitish lesions on the scales suggestive of ringworm. Using conventional methods and DNA-based molecular procedures, five samples of Trichosporon asahii were identified. Despite the traditional role of intense captivity in ophidian venom production, semiextensive captivity was more effective in the present study by virtue of presenting superior control of bacterial and fungal transmission, easier management, lowest cost, and decreased rate of mortality; therefore, it should be considered as a good alternative for tropical countries.
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