The use of ketamine hydrochloride and sodium pentobarbitone in the anaesthesia of two species of Australian skink was examined. The effects of ketamine at ambient temperatures of 15 degrees C and 30 degrees C were studied. Ketamine produced consistent responses up to and including anaesthesia at dose rates of 170 to 230 mg/kg at 30 degrees C. The effect of temperature on the anaesthetic dose, respiratory and cardiac rates, muscle relaxation, analgesia and the onset and duration of anaesthesia was examined. Respiration in both species was depressed but heart rate was increased in Bobtail skinks (Tiliqua rugosa) and depressed in King's skinks (Egernia kingii). Muscle relaxation was good when anaesthetic doses were given. Generally, the onset and duration of anaesthesia were extended at 15 degrees C while the dose rates required for this effect were reduced. Although there was individual variation in the response to ketamine, it was found to be a useful and practical agent for the anaesthesia of large skinks. Pentobarbitone was found to be unsuitable as an anaesthetic agent because it produced inconsistent results and several fatalities.
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