Content continues after advertisement

Chelonian Culture

Clinician's Brief (Capsule)

Exotic Animal Medicine

|October 2015

Sign in to Print/View PDF

Conjunctivitis is common in captive chelonians. This study evaluated conjunctival swabs from 34 healthy and diseased chelonians (18 tortoises, 16 turtles) for presence of bacteria and fungi.

There was bacterial growth from all samples, with 21/34 (62%) having more than 1 isolate. The presence of more than 1 type of bacteria did not correlate with presence of clinical disease.

Tortoises were more likely to have gram-positive isolates, whereas turtles (in line with their living in confined aquatic environments, likely favoring high numbers of enteric bacteria) more commonly had gram-negative organisms. Only 1 aquatic turtle showed signs of conjunctivitis, however, and was the only animal testing positive for Staphylococcus haemolyticus and Morganella morganii. Of concern, the M morganii isolate was resistant to various antimicrobials often used in chelonians. All isolated organisms were potentially clinically relevant, mostly as opportunistic agents, for animals and humans.


The “normal” values and microbial flora of many of our exotic animal species have not been fully evaluated. This paper attempts to characterize some of the bacteria found in chelonian conjunctiva. Many of the bacterial species isolated in this study are considered opportunistic pathogens and a few potential notorious zoonotic pathogens. One unique clinical note was the isolation of primarily gram-positive isolates in tortoises and gram-negative isolates in turtles. This paper provides a good reference after obtaining results from bacterial culture or cytology of any chelonian ophthalmologic case.—Rob L. Coke, DVM, DACZM, DABVP (Reptile & Amphibian Practice), CVA


For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

All Clinician's Brief content is reviewed for accuracy at the time of publication. Previously published content may not reflect recent developments in research and practice.

Material from Clinician's Brief may not be reproduced, distributed, or used in whole or in part without prior permission of Educational Concepts, LLC. For questions or inquiries please contact us.


Clinician's Brief:
The Podcast
Listen as host Alyssa Watson, DVM, talks with the authors of your favorite Clinician’s Brief articles. Dig deeper and explore the conversations behind the content here.
Clinician's Brief provides relevant diagnostic and treatment information for small animal practitioners. It has been ranked the #1 most essential publication by small animal veterinarians for 9 years.*

*2007-2017 PERQ and Essential Media Studies

© 2023 Educational Concepts, L.L.C. dba Brief Media ™ All Rights Reserved. Terms & Conditions | DMCA Copyright | Privacy Policy | Acceptable Use Policy