Determination of lead and zinc concentrations in the blood and liver of the captive common green iguana (Iguana Iguana)

Russell P. Burns, Joanne R Paul-Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Heavy metal toxicosis is a well-known phenomenon in wild, captive-animal, and domestic animal medicine. However, the occurrence among reptiles is not well documented. One reason for this is the lack of information regarding reference blood and tissue levels of heavy metals in reptiles. To determine normal blood lead, plasma zinc, and liver lead and zinc concentrations, blood and liver samples were collected from 4 adult and 16 juvenile, healthy green iguanas (Iguana iguana). Lead and zinc levels were measured using atomic absorption spectroscopy. Using the mean ± two SD as the normal reference range, the present study suggests the following for captive common green iguana: 1) whole blood lead level: 0.06 ± 0.06 μg/ml; 2) plasma zinc level: 2.68 ± 1.66 μg/ml; 3) liver lead level (wet-weight basis): > 1.0 ± 0.0 μg/g; 4) liver lead level (dry-weight basis): <3.0 ± 0.0 μg/g; 5) liver zinc level (wet-weight basis): 24.9 ±11.6 μg/g; and 6) liver zinc level (dry-weight basis): 83.4 ± 44.6 μg/g. These values are fairly consistent with published reference levels in other mammalian and avian species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-500
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Green iguana
  • Heavy metal toxicosis
  • Iguana iguana
  • Lead level
  • Reptile
  • Zinc level

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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