Determining gravidity?

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mark_w
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Determining gravidity?

Postby mark_w » Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:25 am

My skinks are having their winter 'quiet time' at the moment but fairly soon it will be time to warm them up, so I can't help but think about how many babies I might have of this or that species. One problem I have every year is telling when females are gravid. In the very late stages it is often, but not always, clear. Going off their food but drinking lots of water, shallow breathing, lots of time spent basking, all the usual indicators, along with weight gain. Has anyone tried using x-rays or ultrasound to assess this? It would be fantastic to know, a month after mating, whether or not a given female was gravid and maybe to do a quick head count! I appreciate that this does not give a 'live arrival' guarantee, but it would still be very good to know.

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Re: Determining gravidity?

Postby Jeff » Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:17 am

I have never had a skink x-ray done personally. I would love to know what the cost is, if some of the people who have had them done can remember. My guess is that they are not too bad. I think my bigger concern would be the stress involved in taking the gravid female to have the x-ray done. I'm not sure I could bring myself to put her through that just to confirm that she is gravid.
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Re: Determining gravidity?

Postby mark_w » Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:07 am

Hey Jeff, I appreciate your comment about stressing the potentially gravid female. But, I have a veterinary surgery within about 100 metres of my house and so it would be fairly minimal in terms of stress.
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Re: Determining gravidity?

Postby Jeff » Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:10 pm

That would be great to have a vet so close! I was not saying that it shouldn't be done even if you have to travel farther though. I just meant that I don't know if the benefit would be worth the potential stress to the skink for me personally. I don't think it would probably result in any negative affects on the pregnancy.

I could kick myself now because I had to take a gravid female to the vet last year due to an infection that she developed in the mating wounds. If I would have thought about it at the time, I would have asked how much it would have been for an x-ray.

If you do have thiis done, I sure hope you will post the x-rays for us to see!
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Re: Determining gravidity?

Postby Bird_Brain » Fri Jan 27, 2012 5:45 pm

This past year I took in one of my Keis for an xray to see if she was gravid. One thing to consider is with xrays, you are looking for the skeleton of the baby skinks. My knowledge with using xray to determine pregnancy is with dogs. With a dog, the female has to be in her last week of pregnancy before the puppies will show up on xray. I just took my female in just to see. I called around and my current vet wanted roughly $80 for a small xray. I called the vets office I used to work for and their small xray was around $25. Since they know me, they waived the office visit fee (I just ran her in during the afternoon when they dont schedule appointments, the vet tech did the xray). In my case, it didnt show anything, but I am sure if you had an xray done late enough in the gestation, you would be able to see baby skink skeletons.
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Re: Determining gravidity?

Postby acanthurus » Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:03 am

This is something I wonder about every summer.I don't think I would go with X-rays personally, due to potential for harmful effects, including teratogenic and reduced fertility in the newborns.I would imagine ultrasound would be much safer and likely much more effective, esp with a skilled user. I have had the occasional thought about taking them into work and trying our ultrasound in ED- if it wasn't for the fact that I'd probably be fired and have my license revoked for using a $20000 machine on a reptile... There is word of hand held ultrasounds with high detail being available in the next few years, with prices estimated to be around $1500 - could change the way we do things, from determining gravidity to highly accurate sexing.
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Re: Determining gravidity?

Postby Jeff » Sun Jan 29, 2012 4:17 pm

If a $1500 machine will be able to allow me to positively sex baby bts, I don't think there will be any way that I will be able to resist getting one.
6.10.9 T. s. intermedia
2.2.7 T. s. scincoides
1.2.1 T. nigrolutea
2.2.0 T. r. rugosa
1.2.3 T.g. keyensis
2.0.5 T.s. chimaera
0.0.0. T. occipitalis
0.0.0. T. multifasciata
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Re: Determining gravidity?

Postby critterguy » Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:58 pm

Has anyone tried that on adults. In Gila monsters it is a reliable way to sex them in and out of season. At this time of year it should be cake.
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Re: Determining gravidity?

Postby Fatal_S » Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:08 pm

I'm pretty sure the bible says that ultrasound works reasonably well for fully mature skinks but not babies or juveniles. I'd post that section but my bible is in storage right now.
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Re: Determining gravidity?

Postby mark_w » Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:52 am

Thanks for the replies guys. With regard to ultrasound, I have a copy of Mark Sewards Gila Monster book - this is an effective method for sexing adults but only when the animals are in season (in the spring). Even then, the ovaries/testes are in the region of 1mm in size - it is a skilled job. If I'm exaggerating on the 1mm size, they are tiny for sure! In the German Tiliqua book it is stated that these organs are simply too small in blues to make this viable.

I have now tracked down a paper in one of the zoo journals which compares use of ultrasound, x ray and palpation for determining gravidity in Tiliqua nigrolutea. I can only access the abstract though. If anyone here works at a university or similar and has access to full scientific journals, please let me know! In the abstract it does suggest that only once the embryo skeletons become sufficiently calcified, in the last month of their gestation, can x ray be used but then, you can count the babies! Earlier, you can use ultrasound to tell if the skink is gravid or not and so the conclusion seems to be that the different methods are useful at different stages of gestation.

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Re: Determining gravidity?

Postby acanthurus » Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:32 am

I think in the end the use of an ultrasound wound come down to detail. I'm guessing that many of those currently in veterinary use are not in the same league as the latest medical grade machines. We have just upgraded our one at work and the difference from the 5 year old machine is massive. I am easily able to visualise tissue panes and structures such as nerves and arteries down to less than a mm. From what I understand of the new handheld machines that are being talked up they might have similar detail to these within a couple of years at shallow depths (perfect for what we need it for).
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Re: Determining gravidity?

Postby critterguy » Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:09 pm

Mark: Post the link. I might be able to access it.
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Re: Determining gravidity?

Postby mark_w » Mon Feb 06, 2012 5:07 am

Okay, please feel free to try!

The link is:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... 7/abstract

Many thanks,
Mark.
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Re: Determining gravidity?

Postby critterguy » Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:49 am

Mark: You are correct
Ultrasound was able to detect pregnancy in the middle stages. Radiography only worked during late stage pregnancy. Radiography was the only reliable way to count embryos. What is interesting is that palpating the females allowed one to determine pre-post ovulatory females.

The interesting thing is that they popped a male into the experiment as a control. It was not stated whether the clinicians could tell the difference between a nonreproductive female and a male.

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