Abnormal swimming is associated with inner ear damage and improves with meclizine treatment and increased habitat complexity: A case study in Urobatis jamaicensis
Keywords:Animal Behaviour, Animal Health, animal welfare, aquarium science, Elasmobranch, vestibular disease
At the Seas with Nemo and Friends® exhibit (Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA), a yellow stingray Urobatis jamaicensis was diagnosed with a Mycobacterium chelonae infection of the inner ear. The animal was moved to an isolated environment for treatment. One element of therapy included meclizine which was administered in an attempt to reduce the occurrence of abnormal swimming hypothesised to be occurring due to inner ear damage caused by the mycobacteria. Behavioural observations were conducted throughout the medical treatment to monitor response. Following the administration of meclizine, a significant reduction in abnormal swimming behaviour and an increase in normal swimming and resting were observed. Subsequent to the stingray’s move back to its home environment, resting further increased, while abnormal swimming behaviour significantly decreased, even from already reduced levels during the meclizine treatment. These data highlight the unique relationship between veterinary diagnosis/treatment and behaviour in an elasmobranch with vestibular damage as well as demonstrate the effectiveness of the drug meclizine in treating the symptoms of infection.
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