Immobilization of free-ranging Hoffmann's two-toed and brown-throated three-toed sloths using ketamine and medetomidine: A comparasion of physiologic parameters

Christopher S. Hanley, Joanna Siudak-Campfield, Joanne R Paul-Murphy, Christopher Vaughan, Oscar Ramirez, Nicholas S. Keuler, Kurt K. Sladky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Free-ranging Hoffmann's two-toed sloths (Choloepus hoffmanni; n=26) and brown-throated three-toed sloths (Bradypus variegatus; n = 15) were manually captured and immobilized with 2.5 mg/kg ketamine + 0.02 mg/kg medetomidine administered intramuscularly. Physical examinations were conducted on each sloth 10 min after initial injection, and blood, fecal, and ectoparasite samples were collected. Heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature, indirect systolic blood pressure, and indirect peripheral oxygen saturation were monitored every 5 min for the duration of anesthesia. After 45 min, atipamazole (0.1 mg/kg) was administered intramuscularly, as an antagonist to medetomidine, in order to facilitate recovery. All recoveries were smooth, rapid, and uneventful. Physiologic parameters were compared across time, gender, and species. All sloths, regardless of species and gender, demonstrated a time-dependent decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, and an increase in respiratory rate, during the course of anesthesia. Peripheral oxygen saturation was similar for all sloths over time. There were significant species differences for heart rate (Choloepus > Bradypus), respiratory rate (Choloepus > Bradypus), and systolic blood pressure (Bradypus > Choloepus), while there were significant gender differences for body temperature (males > females) and blood pressure (males > females). Results of this study suggest that the ketamine-medetomidine mixture, as described above, is a safe and effective anesthetic combination in free-ranging two- and three-toed sloths, although peripheral blood pressure should be monitored during anesthesia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)938-945
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Wildlife Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes



  • Atipamazole
  • Bradypus variegatus
  • Choloepus hoffmanni
  • Immobilization
  • Ketamine
  • Medetomidine
  • Physiology
  • Three-toed sloth
  • Two-toed sloth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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