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International Journal of Zoology
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 972380, 6 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/972380
Research Article

Ultrasonic Measurement of Body Fat as a Means of Assessing Body Condition in Free-Ranging Raccoons (Procyon lotor)

1Environmental Medicine Consortium, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, 4700 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA
2USGS North Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
3USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Beltsville Laboratory, 10300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA

Received 27 July 2010; Accepted 18 October 2010

Academic Editor: W. D. Bowen

Copyright © 2010 Elizabeth M. Stringer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Assessment of body condition of free-ranging animals is important when evaluating population health and fitness. The following study used body condition scoring, ultrasound, and dissected physical measurement to assess fat stores in free-ranging raccoons (Procyon lotor). Measurements were taken of subcutaneous fat at interscapular, thoracolumbar, and lumbosacral paraspinal and ventral midline sites. These measurements were examined in relationship to body condition scores and body weight. The ultrasound technique accurately measured the subcutaneous fat of raccoons when compared to dissected physical measurement and yielded data that strongly correlated with both body condition score and body weight, with the ventral midline measurement most strongly correlated. This noninvasive method may be useful in conjunction with body condition score and body weight when assessing the nutritional status of raccoons and potentially other small carnivore species.