U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Document Type


Date of this Version



Journal of Wildlife Diseases (2024) 60(1): 95–104

doi: 10.7589/JWD-D-23-00060


United States government work


Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are frequently handled using chemical immobilization in North America for management and research. In a controlled environment, we compared three drug combinations: ketamine-xylazine (KX), butorphanol-azaperone-medetomidine (BAM), and nalbuphinemedetomidine- azaperone (NalMed-A) for raccoon immobilization. In crossover comparisons, raccoons received a mean of the following: 8.66 mg/kg ketamine and 1.74 mg/kg xylazine (0.104 mL/kg KX); 0.464 mg/kg butorphanol, 0.155 mg/kg azaperone, and 0.185 mg/kg medetomidine (0.017 mL/kg BAM); and 0.800 mg/kg nalbuphine, 0.200 mg/kg azaperone, and 0.200 mg/kg medetomidine (0.020 mL/kg NalMed-A). Induction time was shortest with KX (mean6SE, 10.060.7 min) and longest with NalMed-A (13.061.3 min). A sampling procedure was completed on 89% (16/18), 72% (13/18), and 89% (16/18) of the raccoons administered KX, BAM, and NalMed-A, respectively. Reasons for incomplete sampling included inadequate immobilization (one KX and one NalMed-A), responsive behaviors (one each with KX, BAM, NalMed-A), or animal safety (four BAM). Mean recovery time for KX was 32.867.1 min without antagonizing and 28.665.2 min following delivery of an antagonist. Mean recovery time was 6.260.8 min for BAM and 5.160.5 min for NalMed-A after antagonizing. Only with KX were raccoons observed to recover without use of an antagonist. Supplemental oxygen was provided to 23% (3/13), 72% (13/18), and 71% (12/17) of raccoons immobilized with KX, BAM, and NalMed-A, respectively. Hypoxemia at ,80% oxygen saturation occurred in 0% (0/17), 27% (4/15), and 6% (1/16) of the raccoons administered KX, BAM, and NalMed-A, respectively; all raccoons fully recovered from chemical immobilization. All combinations could be used for raccoon immobilization; however, the need for delivery of supplemental oxygen to a majority of raccoons immobilized with BAM and NalMed-A may limit broader use of these agents for certain field studies involving capture, sample, and release of free-ranging animals from a practical standpoint.

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