SREL Reprint #0397




Some Aspects of Radiocesium Retention in Naturally Contaminated Captive Snakes

Mark A. Staton, I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr., and Richard A. Geiger



Thirty-two captive snakes from contaminated natural habitats showed single-phase radiocesium (mainly 237Cs) bioelimination curves suggesting that, in the wild state, they were near equilibrium with respect to this radionuclide at the time of capture.  Radiocesium biological half-lives in the snakes averaged 131.3 + 15.7 (SE) days with extreme values of 430.0 and 23.7 days.  There was no correlation between radiocesium loss rate and initial body burden.  Radiocesium loss rate showed a positive linear correlation with caloric intake and a negative exponential correlation with body weight.  Less than 1% of radiocesium excretion could be accounted for in shed skins, the remainder being lost mainly through the feces.  Two females which laid eggs in captivity transferred 6.37 and 6.43% of their total body burden to their eggs.  Radiocesium showed a greater concentration in skeletal muscle than in kidney or liver, while fat bodies contained the lowest concentrations.  Radiocesium concentrations of feces and stomach contents were generally low and were not correlated with total body burdens.


SREL Reprint #0397

Staton, M.A., I.L. Brisbin Jr., and R.A. Geiger. 1974. Some aspects of radiocesium retention in naturally contaminated captive snakes. Herpetologica 30:204-211.

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