Oral Presentation 64th International Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association 2015

Baseline health parameter changes in eastern bettongs (Bettongia gaimardi) following reintroduction (#16)

Timothy Portas 1 2 , David Spratt 3 , Peter Holz 2 , Joanne Devlin 4 , William Batson 5 , Ross Cuningham 5 , Jane Owens 4 , Adrian Manning 5
  1. Zoo & Wildlife Veterinary Consultancy, North Maleny, QLD, Australia
  2. Veterinary and Research Centre, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, RMB 141, Via Tharwa, Australian Capital Territory , Australia
  3. Australian National Wildlife Collection , CSIRO National Wildlife Research Facilities Australia, GPO Box 1700, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory , Australia
  4. Faculty of Veterinary Science , The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  5. Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory , Australia

The eastern bettong (Bettongia gaimardi) is a small, nocturnal, predominantly mycophagous, potoroid marsupial that has been extinct on the Australian mainland for approximately 100 years. Recently 60 eastern bettongs were translocated from the island of Tasmania and re-introduced in to two predator-free fenced reserves, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Mulligan’s Flats Woodland Sanctuary, within their former range in the Australian Capital Territory. A subset of 30 (12 male, 18 female) bettongs from this translocated population underwent detailed health assessment and screening for selected infectious diseases and parasites at the point of translocation and again at 12-24 months after reintroduction.

Significant differences were evident between multiple haematological and biochemical variables pre- and post-reintroduction. Elevations in haematocrit, haemoglobin, red cell count, mean corpuscular hemoglobin, globulin, urea, creatinine and triglycerides were suggestive of an improved plane of nutrition for bettongs post-reintroduction. Limited haematological and biochemical variable differences were observed between populations at the two reintroduction sites. Ectoparasite assemblages differed pre- and post-reintroduction with five of 13 ectoparasites present initially failing to persist post-reintroduction. Four additional species of ectoparasite were present on bettongs post-reintroduction; presumably acquired from sympatric marsupials at the reintroduction sites.

All bettongs were seronegative for antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii at both time points. One bettong with detectable antibodies to the alphaherpesviruses macropodid herpesvirus 1 and macropodid herpesvirus 2 at the point of translocation was seronegative at repeat sampling. The novel gammaherpesvirus, Potoroid herpesvirus 1, was detected, via PCR, from one bettong at the point of translocation but not at repeat sampling following reintroduction.