Capture Myopathy in Avian Species: A Review


  • Hilary Shipley, DVM University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine



capture myopathy, birds, rhabdomyolysis, immobilization


Capture myopathy, also known as exertional myopathy or exertional rhabdomyolysis, is a complication of capture that can render an animal unable to stand or walk after a capture event. The disease is commonly iatrogenic and associated with pursuit, capture or handling of avian or mammalian species. Clinical signs in birds include difficulty or inability to walk or stand, sternal recumbency or hock–sitting, ataxia, knuckling of the toes, pain, depression, tachypnea, trembling, and death. Renal signs, including myoglobinuria, are less common in avian species. The pathogenesis is related to extreme exertion resulting in anaerobic metabolism and metabolic acidosis. Typical changes seen on blood work are extreme elevations of CK and AST, indicators of muscle damage. Pathologic lesions seen in birds with capture myopathy are similar to those seen in mammals, however, cardiac and renal lesions are less common than in mammals. Treatment is difficult, prolonged, and often unsuccessful. Treatment components utilized in case reports include fluid therapy, vitamin E and selenium supplementation, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and muscle relaxants. Given the low success rate of treatment, careful planning of capture events and minimization of patient stress during handling are crucial in order to avoid capture myopathy and the necessity of treatment.

Author Biography

Hilary Shipley, DVM, University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine

Hilary Shipley is currently a Resident in Comparative Anesthesiology at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine. She was a veterinary extern at the Wildlife Center of Virginia in 2013.


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How to Cite

Shipley, H. (2021). Capture Myopathy in Avian Species: A Review. Wildlife Rehabilitation Bulletin, 36(1), 24-28.



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