Manual restraint of exotic companion mammals is a challenging but necessary part of veterinary practice. In the recording of this R.A.C.E.-approved webinar, Ms. McClellan reviews the approach to predator and prey species as well as the principles of capture and handling of several species of small exotic companion animals in a hospital setting including from rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas to small rodents, hedgehogs, and sugar gliders.
Released for National Veterinary Technician Week 2014, Nursing Care for Exotic Companion Mammals is part of an Exotic ICU series providing advice on the management of small exotic companion mammals in a critical care setting. Specific recommendations on caging, medicating, feeding, and monitoring the critical small mammal are explored as well as important potential sequelae to the stress of hospitalization.
A variety of agents may be used in small mammals with ectoparasites. Download this easy-to-use table for a list of agents used to manage lice, flea infestation, mange or acariasis.
Providing nutrition to the hospitalized small mammal is a fairly straightforward process. Encourage owners to bring their pet’s “regular” diet to minimize the risk of food refusal or gastrointestinal upset. Also consider keeping the following food items available…
Physical examination in exotic small mammals is performed similarly to examinations in dogs and cats, however many small mammals can easily become stressed. Approach these patients calmly, gently, and quietly. Gather all items that may be needed during the physical exam beforehand since it is essential to keep time to a minimum. Ideally schedule examination of nocturnal species such as sugar gliders, rats, and mice during the evening hours. It can also be helpful to dim the lights while examining these species.
The principles of fluid therapy are basically the same in exotic companion mammals as in other species. The biggest difference is that changes can occur very rapidly in these tiny patients. For instance, fluids should almost always be warmed or your patient will cool down quickly. Intraosseous or intravenous fluids can be heated with…
Blood collection is challenging in sugar gliders. Heavy sedation or general anesthesia, using isoflurane or sevoflurane, is almost always required in clinical practice. The most common sites for blood collection in the glider are the jugular vein and the…
Hematological and serum chemistry tests are considered part of the minimum database, yet collecting blood samples from small mammals can be extremely challenging. This review article reviews the recommended venipuncture site in popular exotic companion mammals including many rodents, rabbits, ferrets, hedgehogs, and sugar gliders. Sample collection from peripheral vessels including the cephalic, saphenous, tail, jugular, ear, and submandibular vein is discussed.
Blind venipuncture sites such as the cranial vena cava and femoral vessels are also described. Veterinary health professionals are also acquainted with the potential risks associated with blood collection from these small species, especially those presenting in advanced diseased states. Tips for clinical success are also shared.
External reproductive anatomy is obvious in some adult small mammals such as the ferret, sugar glider, hedgehog, rat, guinea pig, and hamster. Gender determination or sexing can be challenging in some species like the chinchilla, and in many neonatal rodents. In these cases, reliance on anogenital distance or the distance between the rectum and the urogenital region is considered best practice.
Can’t quite recall the dental formula of the African pygmy hedgehog–or perhaps you never knew? Use LafeberVet’s “Small Mammal Dental Formulas: Cheat Sheet” as a quick and easy clinical resource.
Free-ranging sugar gliders live in the treetops and glide from tree to tree using their patagium like a kite and their tail as a rudder to control the direction of flight. The patagium is a furred membrane of skin or gliding membrane that stretches between the forelimbs and hind legs. These skin folds are extensions of the lateral body wall. When the glider is at rest, this excess skin appears as a rippled border along the sides. During a glide, the skin spreads out to form a rectangle…
The sugar glider is a small, nocturnal marsupial native to New Guinea and Australia. Sugar gliders are omnivores that eat arthropods and plant products, such as eucalyptus phloem sap, manna, honeydew, nectar, and pollen in the wild. Although there is little medical information available on sugar gliders in captivity, nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism or metabolic bone disease is recognized as a common problem in this species.
The sugar glider is native to northern and eastern Australia, New Guinea, and surrounding islands. This arboreal, nocturnal creature spends its days in leaf-lined nests in tree hollows. Sugar gliders are extremely social and vocal.
History and physical examination forms donated by Dr. Tom Tully of Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. Download Pocket Pet History Form PDF.
Sugar gliders are small, nocturnal marsupials native to Australia and New Guinea.
Although ferrets are generally quite bold and may be approached in a manner similar to that used for cats and dogs, many exotic small mammals can become easily stressed in a hospital setting. Approach these patients calmly, gently, and quietly, striving to minimize stress whenever possible. Gather all items that may be needed during the physical examination or procedure beforehand since it is essential to keep handling time to a minimum. Also be sure to perform a visual examination before you lay hands on your patient. Observe the appearance and mentation of the pet to ensure it can handle manual restraint…
Recommended small mammal links to outside sites.
Although some diseases are merely arranged alphabetically, other lists are based on the mnemonic acronym DAMNIT. This commonly used veterinary medical record scheme divides disease mechanisms into the following categories: degenerative, anomalous, metabolic, neoplastic or nutritional; infectious, inflammatory, idiopathic, immune-mediated, or infarct/vascular; and traumatic or toxic. Exercise professional judgment when evaluating this information. Differential Diagnosis in Sugar Gliders is designed as an aide or reminder system for use by qualified veterinarians and should never be used for diagnostic decision-making.