Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Reptiles

Chelonia anatomy and physiology

Contributor(s): Vetstream Ltd, Sarah Pellett

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Integument

  • The skin covering the head, neck, limbs and tail of the chelonian is much the same as that of snakes and lizards.
  • Many species of tortoise have enlarged scales over their forelimbs, and some have horny spurs on their hind limbs.
  • The skin is particularly tightly adhered to the underlying bony structures over the distal limbs and the head.
  • Tortoises and most other chelonia have visible auditory membranes covering the entrance to the middle ear; these lie caudoventral to the eyes Ocular anatomy and physiology at the rear of the skull.
  • The shell is formed from the fusion of islands of bone produced within the chelonian’s dermal layer the skin, rather than from the limbs or ribs.
  • The overlying epidermis is highly keratinized and pigmented.
  • The lines joining individual scutes on the shell are not directly above the corresponding suture lines in the bony part of the shell; there is some considerable overlap which reinforces the structure.

Musculoskeletal system

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Respiratory system

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Gastrointestinal system

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Genitourinary system

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Cardiovascular system

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Lymphatic system

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Rivera S (2017) Chelonians. In: Exotic Animal Medicine for the Veterinary Technician. 3rd edn. Eds: Ballard B & Cheek R. Wiley-Blackwell. pp 183-196. 
  • Girling S J (2013) Basic Reptile and Amphibian Anatomy and Physiology. In: Veterinary Nursing of Exotic Pets. 2nd edn. Wiley-Blackwell. pp 246-265.

Reproduced with permission from Bonnie Ballard & Ryan Cheek: Exotic Animal Medicine for the Veterinary Technician © 2017, and David L Williams: Ophthalmology of Exotic Pets © 2012, published by John Wiley & Sons.


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