Article 

The Exotic Animal History

Although patient history is important in all species, improper diet and substandard housing are often major contributors to illness in non-traditional pets. This means that a detailed and accurate history is often one of the most critical diagnostic tools for the exotic animal patient. This review focuses on birds, reptiles, and small exotic companion mammals, beginning with the signalment and presenting complaint, before moving onto the environmental history, dietary history, and of course the medical history.

Article  Teaching Module 

Basic Rabbit Care Teaching Module

Welcome to LafeberVet’s Basic Rabbit Care Teaching Module! Upon completion of this learning aid, the participant will have a basic clinical understanding of what defines a rabbit, common rabbit breeds, anatomy and physiology, behavior, restraint and handling, as well as husbandry needs.

Client Education Handout 

Basic Rabbit Care Handout and Infographic

With the help of a handy infographic, this client education handout reviews the basics of a good rabbit diet as well as housing, including “bunny proofing”, and handling.

Article 

Pigeon Fancy: Talking the Talk

This practice of pigeon fancy is generally called “pigeon racing” in North America and “pigeon play” in Europe. The principles of pigeon fancy are intricate and there are a variety of vocabulary terms that seem quite mysterious. There is also a history of resistance to veterinary involvement among many pigeon breeders so it can be intimidating for even experienced avian veterinarians to interact with the pigeon fancier.

Behavior Basics: Clinical Approach to the Rabbit

The approach to a prey species like the rabbit often calls for a profound paradigm shift for clinicians used to dealing only with cats and dogs. Rabbits can stress very easily in a clinical setting and the challenge of managing a small mammal like the rabbit increases exponentially when they are presented for illness or injury.

Client Education Handout 

Mud Turtle Client Handout

The mud turtle (Pelusios castaneus) is native to West Africa and its natural habitat consists of aquatic habitat surrounded by dense forest floors or submerged savannah. Shared by Dr. La’Toya Latney of PennVet, this educational handout will help your client understand how to care for and maintain this aquatic turtle species in captivity. Recommendations for indoor and outdoor housing as well as nutrition are described as well as common problems seen pet turtles.

Client Education Handout 

Leopard Tortoise Client Handout

The leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) is found throughout the southern edge of the Sahara and in Southern Africa from the Sudan to Ethiopia. Leopard tortoises inhabit hot arid desert, scrublands, and savannah. Shared by Dr. La’Toya Latney of PennVet, this educational handout will help your client understand how to care for and maintain this tortoise in captivity. Recommendations for indoor and outdoor housing as well as nutrition and breeding are described as well as common clinical problems.

Client Education Handout 

Chinese Box Turtle Client Handout

The charming Chinese box turtle (Cuora flavomarginata) is native to the rice patty and pond environments of Taiwan and southern China. Shared by Dr. La’Toya Latney of PennVet, this educational handout will help your client understand how to care for and maintain this semi-aquatic turtle in captivity. Recommendations for indoor and outdoor housing as well as nutrition and breeding are described as well as common clinical problems.

Client Education Handout 

Sulcata or African Spurred Tortoise Client Handout

Sulcata or African spurred tortoises (Geochelone sulcata) are “gentle giants” found throughout the southern edge of the Sahara in Africa. Sulcata tortoises inhabit hot arid desert, scrubland, and savannah. Shared by Dr. La’Toya Latney of PennVet, this educational handout will help your client understand how to care for and maintain this popular tortoise in captivity. Recommendations for housing as well as nutrition, breeding, and common clinical problems are described.

Article  Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Mediterranean Tortoises

Mediterranean tortoises belong to family Testudinidae and genus Testudo and include: Testudo marginata (marginated tortoise), T. weissingeri, T. horsfieldii (Russian tortoise), T. graeca ibera (Greek spur-thighed tortoise) not to be confused with the spurred tortoise, Geochelone sulcata, T. hermanni (Hermann’s tortoise), and T. kleinmanni (Egyptian tortoise).

Use our Mediterranean tortoise Basic Information Sheet to compare taxonomy, physical characteristics, differences in diet and housing needs, as well as preventive care and diseases of this group of chelonians. Login to view information sheet references.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Egyptian Tortoise

The Egyptian tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni) is also know as Kleinmann’s tortoise or Leith’s tortoise. The native habitat of the Egyptian tortoise consists of desert and semi-desert scrub, although this species is also found in salt marsh margins, sandy gravel plains, as well as the rocky escarpments of the “wadis”, a stream bed that is usually dry except during the rainy season.

Use our Egyptian tortoise Information Sheet to review taxonomy, conservation status and physical description as well as diet and housing needs of this chelonian species. Login to view information sheet references.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Greek or Spur-Thighed Tortoise

The Greek or spur-thighed tortoise (T. graeca complex) is a small to medium-sized tortoise. Subspecies are found from northern Africa through central Asia. Use our Greek tortoise Information Sheet to review taxonomy, conservation status, physical description, diet and housing needs, as well as important medical conditions of this chelonian species. Login to view information sheet references.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Hermann’s Tortoise

The natural habitat of Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) includes evergreen and oak forests with arid, rocky hill slopes and scrubby vegetation, as well as herbaceous scrub and grassy hillsides.

Use our Hermann’s tortoise Information Sheet to review natural history, taxonomy, conservation status, physical description, diet and housing needs, as well as important medical conditions of this chelonian species. Login to view information sheet references.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Marginated Tortoise

The marginated tortoise (Testudo marginata) is found in Greece and Sardinia, as well as Italy, southern Albania and the Balkan Islands. This species was also introduced into Turkey. Its natural habitat consists of dry scrub, woodland, and hillside.

Use our marginated tortoise Information Sheet to review taxonomy, conservation status, physical description as well as diet and housing needs of this chelonian species. Login to view information sheet references.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Russian Tortoise

The Egyptian tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni) is also know as Kleinmann’s tortoise or Leith’s tortoise. The native habitat of the Egyptian tortoise consists of desert and semi-desert scrub, although this species is also found in salt marsh margins, sandy gravel plains, as well as the rocky escarpments of the “wadis”, a stream bed that is usually dry except during the rainy season.

Use our Egyptian tortoise Information Sheet to review taxonomy, conservation status and physical description as well as diet and housing needs of this chelonian species. Login to view information sheet references.

Article  Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Fennec Fox

Fennec foxes (Vulpes zerda) are the smallest members of Order Carnivora. Females or “vixens” weigh approximately 0.8 kg. Adult males or “reynards” reach up to 1.5 kg and stand 18 -22 cm at the shoulder. Its most distinctive feature is characteristic large pinnae, which function to dissipate heat and enhance hearing. Fennec foxes are highly specialized to desert life and found almost exclusively in arid, sandy regions. Densest populations are found in the central Sahara desert region of North Africa.

Use our Fennec fox Information Sheet to review taxonomy, conservation status, physical description, diet and housing needs, anatomy and physiology, preventive care as well as important medical conditions. Login to view information sheet references.

Article 

Exotic ICU: Nursing Care for Exotic Companion Mammals

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.

Article 

Band Removal in Birds

Leg bands are sometimes used for identification of birds. Band removal is indicated as a medical treatment when the band is associated with tissue swelling due to trauma or a build up of keratin. Prophylactic band removal is recommended by some veterinarians because of the danger of the band catching on wire or toys. There is some controversy, however, as to whether bands truly pose a significant risk. Most clinicians agree that closed bands pose less risk of injury compared to…

Article 

Vitamin C Content of Selected Foods

Like primates, guinea pigs require dietary vitamin C. Guinea pig treats should not only be high in vitamin C, but also low in calcium, carbohydrates and sugars, and high in dietary fiber…

Article 

Respiratory Disease in Rats

One of the more common illnesses in rats is respiratory disease. Although most cases of respiratory disease in the rat are multifactorial, the most significant and serious bacterial pathogen is Mycoplasma pulmonis…

Article 

Avicultural Medicine: Visiting the Facility

The site visit allows the veterinarian to appreciate intricate facility details. Unless there is an emergency, schedule visits during the non-breeding season and only visit one site daily to prevent potential iatrogenic contamination of facilities. I usually schedule appointments in the morning prior to going to the clinic. An aviary map or blue print of the aviary layout will help you visualize where birds are in relation to each other.

Article 

Avicultural Medicine: Quarantine Protocols

Quarantine is a basic component of good preventive medicine. The purpose of quarantine is to protect both the existing collection and the new arrival. New birds are usually stressed and may be more susceptible to infectious diseases. The quarantine period also allows the new bird(s) to acclimate to its new environment, food, and owner. Proper client education is paramount to minimize and/or eliminate the risk of infectious disease outbreaks.

Article 

Supplemental Heat for the Avian Patient

Small birds face an enormous task in maintaining their body temperature, especially in a cold environment, but fortunately plumage provides an effective barrier to heat loss. Down feathers trap air and allow little convective movement of heat to occur. Fluffing feathers increases insulation and…

Article 

Pediatric Avian Medicine: Husbandry-Related and Developmental Conditions

The key to hand raising healthy psittacine chicks is a strong preventive medicine program based on sound husbandry practices. Hygiene, hand feeding protocols, incubation and brooder parameters, environmental temperature in the nursery, and pest control are just a few of the husbandry practices that; if mismanaged, can lead to serious adverse consequences.

Many experienced aviculturists follow strict husbandry protocols that result in few health problems. When problems do arise…

Article 

Feeding the Hospitalized Snake

Depending on their age and size, snakes may be fed multiple times in one week or every 2 to 4 weeks. If nutritional support is truly needed, then assisted feeding is indicated in the hospitalized snake. Tube feeding is commonly performed in critically ill snakes after fluid therapy and supplemental heat is provided.

Article 

Feeding the Hospitalized Turtle or Tortoise

Turtles and tortoises display a variety of dietary strategies ranging from the complete herbivory seen in many tortoises to the strict carnivory displayed in aquatic species like the snapping turtle. There are also many chelonians, such as the Eastern box turtle, that may be considered opportunistic omnivores. This review article, critiqued by reptile nutritionist, Susan Donoghue, discusses clinical concerns related to feeding the hospitalized turtle or tortoise. Topics covered range from recognizing true anorexia to food items to avoid. Practical technical concerns related to nutritional support such as tube feeding and daily caloric requirements are also discussed.

Article 

Promoting Dental Health in Small Herbivores: Five Things You Can Do

Acquired dental disease is an important problem in pet rabbits and rodents. Clinical management of dental disease is complex, frequently involving invasive technical procedures, therefore it is preferable to promote dental health, rather than treating dental disease.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Dyspnea in Rats

Unfortunately respiratory disease is common in pet rats. Although most cases of respiratory disease in the rat are multifactorial, the most significant and serious bacterial pathogen is Mycoplasma pulmonis. Institute medical therapy as soon as possible in rats with respiratory disease since this improves…

Article 

Feeding the Hospitalized Lizard

Fasting may be expected in lizards during certain times of the year. Many gravid females eat less or go off feed entirely due to the large number of eggs filling the coelom. Some species also fast for weeks or months as an adaptation to excess heat or cold, drought, or lack of food. This dormancy in reptiles is called…

Article 

Falconry Vocabulary Terms

Is your comfort level with free-ranging raptor medicine and surgery growing, but you feel a bit unnerved by falconers and falconry lingo? Although the definitions for some falconry terms are intuitive, many modern falconry words are French in origin and their meanings may not be immediately obvious. You will feel more comfortable “talking the talk” after you review our falconry vocabulary list…

Article 

Chinchillas 101

New to chinchillas or has it just been awhile since you’ve seen this species? Review LafeberVet’s list of the Top 10 things you should know before entering the examination room.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Upper Respiratory Signs in the Bird

Rhinitis or sinusitis in the bird can include a host of clinical signs including congestion, sneezing, oculonasal discharge, exophthalmos, as well as non-specific signs of illness such as reduced appetite, lethargy, and weight loss. If disease extends lower into the lower respiratory tract, cough, tachypnea, and…

Article 

Emergency Equipment Checklist for Avian Practice

When planning to accept avian patients, prepare yourself and your staff, prepare your hospital including hospital caging and exam rooms, and consider the equipment necessary for proper care…

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: European Rabbit

The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) has been domesticated for hundreds of years. Companion animals may be housed indoors as house rabbits or outdoors in hutches. Rabbits are also used as show animals, producers of meat and wool, and in laboratory settings. Use our European rabbit Information Sheet to review taxonomy, husbandry needs, normal physiologic values, anatomy, preventive care as well as important medical conditions. Login to view information sheet references.

Hay is essential to a rabbit’s health. Rabbits should also be fed a small amount of high fiber pellets, and a variety of vegetables including leafy green like…

Article 

Basic Husbandry: Hospitalizing Non-Traditional Pets

No single hospital environment can meet the needs of every exotic animal and caging systems must be tailored to meet the specific needs of each patient. Read about those caging requirements that remain constant among exotic animals as well as the species-specific needs of each taxa from birds and small mammals to fish, amphibians, and reptiles.

Article  Quiz 

Assessing the Sick Frog or Toad

So a frog hops into your exam room…

Know just enough amphibian medicine to feel dangerous? Read Assessing the Sick Frog or Toad for practical information that will help you–and your patient–in the exam room.

Always happy to see frog and toad patients? ‘Hop to’ our brief quiz!

Article 

Songbird Housing Checklist

When hospitalizing any wildlife patient, the goal should always be to transfer the animal to an experienced, licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. In the meantime, it is imperative that the passerine bird be housed appropriately to promote recovery and prevent injury.

Article 

Physical Examination of the Avian Patient

Be prepared for your next bird patient. Review the basic approach to the avian physical examination, including history, review of signalment, and visual examination. Key parts of the exam will vary, but generally include a body weight in grams, the oropharynx, crop, sternum, coelom, and vent. The fundus should be routinely evaluated in trauma patients…

Client Education Handout 

Senior Rabbit, Care of the

With proper care, pet rabbits can live long, happy lives. In this client education handout, we explore the aging changes that can be expected in the senior house rabbit including common health problems. Veterinary screening as well as home care of the geriatric rabbit are also explored.

Client Education Handout 

Prevent Problems with Boas and Pythons

According to the Humane Society of the United States,17 deaths and many more injuries have been related to large constrictors since 1978. Given the tens of thousands of large constrictors sold, the incidence of fatalities and injuries is relatively low, however every incident—including the death of four babies in their cribs and three additional children—is particularly tragic since these cases are completely preventable. In this client education handout, safety tips involving snake feeding, housing, and behavior are discussed.

Client Education Handout 

Aquatic and Semi-Aquatic Turtles, Care of

Aquatic turtles are personable, popular pets, however their upkeep can be labor intensive. This educational handout will help your client understand how to care for and maintain semi-aquatic turtle species such as sliders (Trachemys spp.), painted turtles (Chrysemys), pond turtles (Graptemys spp.) and aquatic turtles, like softshell turtles (Apalone spp.) and matamatas (Chelus fimbriata). Recommendations for diet, indoor and outdoor housing, as well as common problems seen in pet turtles are described.

Client Education Handout 

Box Turtle, Care of the

Box turtles are one of the most common reptile pets in the United States. There are many subspecies of the box turtle, with the Eastern box turtle and three-toed box turtle being most commonly kept as pets. This educational handout will help your client understand how to care for and maintain this species in captivity. Recommendations for pet turtle diet and housing, as well as common clinical problems seen in veterinary practice are described.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: White’s Tree Frog

The White’s tree frog is indigenous to Australia and Indonesia. Also known as the Dumpy tree frog or the Australian Giant Green tree frog. This species is captive bred in large numbers. Wild-caught frogs from Indonesia are also still in the pet trade…

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Veiled Chameleon

The veiled chameleon is indigenous to Yemen, in the southwestern region of the Saudi Arabian peninsula. This species is found in extreme environments ranging from arid desert to seasonal “wadis” or streams that form in the desert after rain. Pets may be captive bred or wild caught and imported.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Uromastyx

Uromastyx spp. are also known as dabb lizards or spiny-tailed lizards. This latter name comes from its thick, short tail covered with large, spiny scales. The Moroccans spiny-tailed lizard or agama is native to the deserts of northern Africa. Colorful specimens of the pet trade are often captured from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Mauritania. The range of the ornate spiny-tailed agama is restricted to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Wild-caught animals are more common than captive bred in the pet trade, this is particularly true for the…

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Savannah Monitor

The Savannah monitor is native to the savannahs of eastern and southern Africa. In the wild these monitors are scavengers covering large distances as they search for small prey items. Savannah monitors in the pet trade are…

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Red-Eared Slider

Red-eared sliders are native to the eastern and central United States river valleys. Most pet sliders are captive bred and hatched. Red-eared sliders are hardy and outgoing. Although pretty and personable as pets, red-eared sliders occupy a niche of dark history in herpetoculture, first as transmitters of Salmonella bacteria to small children, second as an invasive species that have disturbed ecosystems throughout the waterways of the world. The former problem is the result of husbandry and marketing practices of large-scale commercial producers; the latter due to illegal release of unwanted pets.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Panther Chameleon

The panther chameleon is indigenous to Madagascar. Most specimens in the pet trade used to be wild caught, however with changes in Madagascar’s export regulations and better understanding of the care of these exquisite lizards, most are now captive-bred.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Leopard Gecko

Leopard geckos are originally from the grassland and desert regions of India and Pakistan. The vast majority of pets are captive bred and hatched. Leopard geckos are nocturnal, terrestrial, long-lived lizards that make excellent pets.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Kingsnakes

There are several species of kingsnake and their habitat and range vary. The Eastern kingsnake is found in humid forests of the eastern seaboard states and as far west as the Appalachians and Alabama. The California kingsnake is native to desert, arid grassland, and rocky hillsides of Baja Mexico and the western United States. Pets may be bred in captivity or wild-caught. Kingsnakes are fairly docile, medium-sized, hardy reptiles, that make…