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Acupuncture for locomotor disabilities in a South American red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria) – a case report
  1. Márcia Valéria Rizzo Scognamillo-Szabó, acupuncture instructor,
  2. André Luiz Quagliatto Santos, assistant acupuncture instructor,
  3. Maria Marlene Martins Olegário, undergraduate student,
  4. Mariana Batista Andrade, undergraduate student
  1. Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Federal University of Uberlândia, Brazil
  1. Márcia Valéria Rizzo Scognamillo-Szabó, scognamillo_szabo{at}


The literature contains numerous reports of the effect of acupuncture on domestic or experimental animals, but only a few involving wild animals. This paper reports on acupuncture treatment for locomotor disabilities in a South American red-footed tortoise (Geochelone carbonaria, SPIX, 1824), an endangered land tortoise found in Brazil’s Cerrado region. The animal was captured and kept in an aquatic pen, subsequently developing respiratory symptoms and locomotor disabilities. The respiratory symptoms resolved in response to antibiotic treatment. However, despite the use of nutritional supplements, the motor symptoms remained unchanged. After 16 months, the tortoise was given six acupuncture sessions. No other changes were made to its environment or management. The location of the acupuncture points was transposed from canine charts. After acupuncture, the animal’s motor functions, which had remained unchanged during the preceding 16 months, were restored, enabling it to eat and walk unaided. The improvement persisted during 18 months follow up. The transposition of acupuncture points from canine charts is a viable alternative for chelonians.

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