, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 571–580 | Cite as

Cloacal Aerobic Bacterial Flora and Absence of Viruses in Free-Living Slow Worms (Anguis fragilis), Grass Snakes (Natrix natrix) and European Adders (Vipera berus) from Germany

  • Volker SchmidtEmail author
  • Ronja Mock
  • Eileen Burgkhardt
  • Anja Junghanns
  • Falk Ortlieb
  • Istvan Szabo
  • Rachel Marschang
  • Irmgard Blindow
  • Maria-Elisabeth Krautwald-Junghanns
Original Contribution


Disease problems caused by viral or bacterial pathogens are common in reptiles kept in captivity. There is no information available on the incidence of viral pathogens or the physiological cloacal bacterial flora of common free-living reptiles in Germany. Therefore, 56 free-living reptiles including 23 European adders (Vipera berus), 12 grass snakes (Natrix natrix) and 21 slow worms (Anguis fragilis) were investigated on the island Hiddensee in northeastern Germany. Pharyngeal and cloacal swabs were taken immediately after capture. Bacteriological examination was performed from the cloacal swabs to study the aerobic cloacal flora. Molecular biological examination included amplification of DNA or RNA from adeno-, rana- and ferlaviruses as well as culturing on Russell’s viper heart cells for virus isolation. Salmonella spp. were isolated from European adders but not from the other reptiles examined. The minimal inhibitory concentration was determined from the isolated Salmonella spp. However, some potentially human pathogenic bacteria, such as Proteus vulgaris, Aeromonas hydrophila, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli were isolated. Viruses were not detected in any of the examined reptiles. To the authors’ best knowledge, the present study is the first survey of viral pathogens in free-living snakes and slow worms in Germany and the first survey of cloacal aerobic bacterial flora of slow worms.


enterobacteriaceae Salmonella free-living reptiles ferlavirus hiddensee 



We thank the National Park Administration of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, for the kind permission to investigate reptiles on the island of Hiddensee.


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Copyright information

© International Association for Ecology and Health 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Volker Schmidt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ronja Mock
    • 1
  • Eileen Burgkhardt
    • 1
  • Anja Junghanns
    • 2
  • Falk Ortlieb
    • 2
  • Istvan Szabo
    • 3
  • Rachel Marschang
    • 4
    • 5
  • Irmgard Blindow
    • 2
  • Maria-Elisabeth Krautwald-Junghanns
    • 1
  1. 1.Clinic for Birds and ReptilesUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Ornithological Station HiddenseeUniversity of GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  3. 3.Federal Institute for Risk AssessmentNational Salmonella Reference LaboratoryBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Institut für Umwelt- und TierhygieneUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany
  5. 5.LABOKLIN GmbH & Co.KGBad KissingenGermany

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