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  1. ITV Report

Big-headed turtles, snakes and hairy armadillos x-rayed during London Zoo health check

London Zoo has shared a selection of x-rays taken during routine health checks of its 18,000 animals.

Big-headed turtle (Platysternon megacephalum) Credit: ZSL London Zoo

The images, taken by the Zoo’s expert veterinary team reveal the inner workings of a variety of different species, including frogs, snakes, geckos and turtles.

Corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus) Credit: ZSL London Zoo

We can tell so much about an animal’s health from looking at an x-ray - from the strength of their bones to how healthy their heart is.

They’re vital to our work, and even though we get to see unique x-rays fairly often we still think that they’re absolutely fascinating.

– Heather Mackintosh, zoo vet
Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum) Credit: ZSL London Zoo

Most people can recognise a human x-ray, but they probably haven’t seen the individual segments of a large hairy armadillo’s exoskeleton, or the long tail bones of a big-headed turtle.

My favourite x-rays are definitely the snakes: humans have 33 vertebrae while snakes have between 200 and 400, which is how they’re so incredibly agile - it’s amazing to see it on screen.

– Heather Mackintosh, zoo vet
Large hairy armadillo (Chaetophractus villosus) Credit: ZSL London Zoo

The important health checks - which also involve weighing and measuring every resident - are made possible by daily training with the animals, carried out by the Zoo’s keepers and vet team.

Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko) Credit: ZSL London Zoo

Our keepers make training part of their daily routine, which means our animals are totally un-fazed during simple procedures, such as presenting their tails for blood draws; it’s simple and stress-free for them – and our vet team.

– Heather Mackintosh, zoo vet