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Standardisation of electrocardiographic examination in corn snakes (Pantherophis guttatus)
  1. Martyn Lewis1,2,
  2. Jonathan Bouvard3,
  3. Kevin Eatwell4 and
  4. Geoff Culshaw5
  1. 1 Exotics, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2 Exotics, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3 Cardiology, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Edinburgh, UK
  4. 4 Hospital for Small Animals, Edinburgh University, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Roslin, Midlothian, UK
  5. 5 Hospital for Small Animals, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Martyn Lewis; martyn.lewis{at}


Introduction Corn snakes are a very common pet reptile species, yet there is an absence of evidence-based literature standardising collection of ECG or detailing ECG deflection morphology in the normal animal. The authors describe a well-tolerated, reproducible technique and detail the cardiac cycle in terms of lead 2 equivalent waveforms and intervals.

Animals 29 adult corn snakes.

Materials and methods This prospective study evaluated, under species-appropriate, standardised conditions, a technique for producing standard six-lead ECG tracings. Lead 2 equivalent cardiac cycles were described in detail and statistically analysed for sex, weight, length, heart rate and mean electrical axis.

Results High-quality tracings demonstrated common ECG characteristics for this species, including no Q, S or SV waves, prolonged PR and RT intervals, rhythmic oscillation of the baseline, short TP segments, and a right displaced mean electrical axis. An influence of sex, weight or length on heart rate and mean electrical axis was not identified.

Conclusions To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to describe a standardised technique for recording ECG in significant numbers of normal corn snakes. Ranges have been provided that may be of diagnostic value or form the basis for future development of reference intervals for this species.

  • corn snake
  • ECG
  • reptile
  • cardiology
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  • Presented at An abstract containing the preliminary results of this study was presented at the International Conference on Avian, Herpetological and Exotic Mammal Medicine (iCARE), May 2019, London, UK.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was obtained from an independent Edinburgh University Veterinary Ethical Review Committee (VERC).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available.

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