Yaw, T. J., Mans, C., Johnson,S. et al. 2020. Evaluation of subcutaneous administration of alfaxalone-midazolam and dexmedetomidine-midazolam for sedation of ball pythons (Python regius). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256(5), 573-579.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate SC administration of alfaxalone-midazolam and dexmedetomidine-midazolam for sedation of ball pythons (Python regius). ANIMALS: 12 healthy juvenile ball pythons. PROCEDURES: In a randomized crossover study, each snake was administered a combination of alfaxalone (5 mg/kg [2.3 mg/lb]) and midazolam (0.5 mg/kg [0.23 mg/lb]) and a combination of dexmedetomidine (0.05 mg/kg [0.023 mg/lb]) and midazolam (0.5 mg/kg), SC, with a washout period of at least 7 days between protocols. Respiratory and heart rates and various reflexes and behaviors were assessed and compared between protocols. Forty-five minutes after protocol administration, sedation was reversed by SC administration of flumazenil (0.05 mg/kg) alone or in combination with atipamezole (0.5 mg/kg; dexmedetomidine-midazolam protocol only). Because of difficulties with visual assessment of respiratory effort after sedative administration, the experiment was repeated for a subset of 3 ball pythons, with plethysmography used to assess respiration. RESULTS: Both protocols induced a similar level of moderate sedation with no adverse effects aside from transient apnea. Cardiopulmonary depression was more profound, but time to recovery after reversal was significantly shorter, for the dexmedetomidine-midazolam protocol than for the alfaxalone-midazolam protocol. Plethysmographic findings were consistent with visual observations and suggested that snakes compensated for a decrease in respiratory rate by increasing tidal volume amplitude. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Results indicated that both protocols induced clinically relevant sedation in ball pythons and should be useful for minor procedures such as venipuncture and diagnostic imaging. However, caution should be used when sedating snakes with compromised cardiopulmonary function.