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Conservation and breeding of bushmaster Lachesis muta, Viperidae) in captivity

Grant number: 12/18362-3
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: December 01, 2012 - May 31, 2015
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Biology
Principal Investigator:Kathleen Fernandes Grego
Grantee:Kathleen Fernandes Grego
Home Institution: Instituto Butantan. Secretaria da Saúde (São Paulo - Estado). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers:Anita Mitico Tanaka-Azevedo ; Jose Luiz Catao Dias ; Sávio Stefanini Sant Anna ; Wilson Fernandes

Abstract

Lachesis muta (bushmasters), the largest venomous snake of Brazil, is distributed in the North of Brazil and also in the Atlantic Forest that ranges from Rio de Janeiro to Ceará. Due to the deforestation, the number of bushmasters is in rapid decline and has been included in the red list of threatened species of the "International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Recources". According to the Ministry of Health, 1.4% of all the snake accidents are caused by Lachesis muta envenomation and in the period from 1990 to 1993, 939 cases were reported with 9 deaths (0.9%), probably due to the hemorrhagic, coagulation and neurotoxic activities of its venom. Instituto Butantan receives bushmasters only sporadically (in 17 years, only 10 specimens were received), and the number of Lachesis maintained at the Laboratório de Herpetologia are insufficient for the production of antiserum and immunobiological researches. The main objective of this project is to increase the knowledge of reproductive behavior and reproductive cycle of this species, improving its reproduction success in captivity. In this work, snakes already maintained in captivity and recently-caught ones will be used after adequate profilatic treatment. The animals will be allocated in a room adapted for bushmaster welfare, with a misting system that will provide adequate moisture in the room, luminosity and photoperiodism, similar to a dense forest. A 24 hours monitoring system will record the behavior of the animals in the room. (AU)