Non-traditional or exotic pets are becoming more popular and are as much a part of the family as dogs and cats. Rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, small pocket pets such as hamsters and rats, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, reptiles and many other animals are included in the category of exotic pets. These animals have different anatomies and different sets of illnesses from dogs and cats; therefore, it is important to find a veterinarian with experience in treating these pets.
Routine wellness checkups are important for these animals as they tend to hide signs of illness. A wellness checkup is a full physical exam including evaluating the mouth (especially the back molars in guinea pigs and rabbits), checking ears and eyes, listening to the heart and lungs, feeling the abdomen for any abnormalities (such as organ enlargement or impaction), examining the skin, and an evaluation of weight.
For some animals, a fecal examination looking for parasites may be recommended. Husbandry and basic care such as nail trims can be addressed at this time. Wellness exams are recommended every 6 months.
Proper husbandry and nutrition play a very important role in the health of these animals. Unfortunately, it is very easy to adopt one of these pets without first doing research. We recommend looking into proper diets, cages, bedding, temperature, and other needs before getting an exotic pet.
Remember, these animals tend to hide their illnesses. Any out of the ordinary behaviors or findings you observe should be addressed early.
Dr. Melanie Roberts has been working with exotic patients for 22 years. She has vast experience working with exotic pets and their husbandry, wellness care, and medical problems. Please contact our office to make an appointment with her for either a wellness checkup or addressing your pet’s medical needs.