Understanding Reptile Dental Anatomy: Clinical Applications

Reptile dentition tends to be relatively uniform with a simple, conical shape. Most reptile teeth are loosely attached with the dental attachment most superficial in acrodontic species. Tooth loss and replacement is a normal occurrence in reptile species with pleurodont dentition, which includes snakes, and many lizards. Take special care when handling reptiles with acrodont dentition as teeth will not be replaced when infected or fractured. Additionally, periodontal disease is common in captive lizards with acrodont dentition such as bearded dragons and chameleons. Periodontal disease is an insidious condition. As plaque formation builds and gingivitis worsens, many reptiles will continue to eat. The owner may not observe problems until disease is quite advanced. Feeding lizards an unnatural, soft diet is believed to promote plaque development and the development of periodontal disease.

Leigh Ann Clayton, DVM, DABVP (Avian), DABVP (Reptilian/Amphibian)

Leigh Ann Clayton is Vice President of Animal Care and Welfare at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. Leigh earned an undergraduate degree in political science from Bryn Mawr College, then obtained a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Tufts University in 1997…

Eva Strüve, DVM

Eva Strüve (née Schuster) is a veterinarian for exotic animals and is specialized on reptiles and amphibians. After her graduation from the University of veterinary medicine (foundation) she worked at the department for small mammals, reptiles and amphibians for 3,5 years…


AEMV Student Case Report Contest

Lafeber Company is proud to serve as the sponsor of an Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians Student Case Report Contest…

Teresa Bousquet, DVM

Teresa Bousquet is an associate veterinarian at Park Veterinary Centre in Alberta, Canada. Originally from Saskatoon, Dr. Bousquet is a 2007 graduate of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. Teresa is a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians…

Sara Ruane, PhD

Sara Ruane is an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University-Newark in the Department of Biological Sciences. Her research is primarily based in reptile systematics and evolution. . The Ruane Lab seeks to simultaneously inform reptile and amphibian systematics while also answering broad, contemporary questions in evolutionary biology. Some of Dr. Ruane’s current research focuses on the phylogenetics of the Malagasy pseudoxyrhophiines, as well as examining undescribed diversity in the poorly known New Guinea snakes. While her interests in herpetology are broad, she primarily focuses on snakes, especially with respect to systematics, phylogenetics, and phylogeography.

Dr. Heather Barron to Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine

The Lafeber Company Student Program supports the growth of zoological medicine in veterinary medical schools by sponsoring speakers and other educational events.

Sylvia Parmentier, DVM, Certified Specialist in Poultry & Avian Medicine

Sylvia Parmentier is a veterinarian from Frankfurt, Germany. After completing her studies, Sylvia worked for 5 years at the Clinic for Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish in Gießen and completed her veterinary specialty residency for economic, game and ornamental fowl.

What Did You Miss in 2017?

LafeberVet is an ever-growing online exotic animal medicine library. Although some NEW content is featured in email campaigns, follow us on Twitter to keep up on all the latest posts…

Julie DeCubellis, DVM, MS

Julie DeCubellis completed a bachelor’s degree in biology at Rhode Island College and a master’s degree in animal nutrition at North Carolina State University. Julie graduated from St. George’s University of Veterinary Medicine in 2007…


Behavior Basics: The Guinea Pig

The guinea pig is a gentle, highly social rodent, that commonly serves as a companion animal and an experimental model in North America and Europe. Food preferences are established early in life, and a guinea pig can refuse to eat if their food type or presentation is changed. For this reason, small mammal veterinarians recommend exposing juvenile guinea pigs to a variety of chows and vegetables. Guinea pigs also do not tolerate environmental changes well. When exposed to something perceived as dangerous, the response of the guinea pig is generally to freeze, or less commonly flight.


Guinea Pig Reproduction Basics

The guinea pig is a popular companion animal and a common research model. Guinea pigs are useful in reproductive studies because they share many reproductive traits with human beings. This article reviews anatomy and physiology of the guinea pig reproductive tract and summarizes some clinically significant medical problems.

Amanda Fisher, DVM, MSc

Amanda Fisher completed her veterinary medical education at Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island in 2009. She then completed a 3-year residency and master’s program in comparative medicine at Texas A&M University…

Nicole Wyre, DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice), DABVP (Exotic Companion Mammal Practice)

Nicole Wyre graduated from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 2003. She then completed a rotating small animal internship at the Regional Veterinary Referral Center in Springfield, Virginia…


Behavior Basics: Clinical Approach to the Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs are small, docile rodents, that must be approached with great care. Accurate evaluation of patient health status requires a thorough history, careful visual examination, and a detailed physical examination. Like most prey species, the guinea pig frequently hides signs of pain and illness. To improve clinical success, take measures to minimize stress by maintaining the animal in a quiet exam room and approaching the patient in a slow, quiet manner. The hospitalized guinea pig can also benefit greatly from the presence of a bonded cage mate. Monitor appetite and eliminations carefully in the guinea pig, and offer the same diet as fed in the patient’s home whenever possible as guinea pigs establish strong food preferences early in life.

Article  Quiz 

Dystocia in Guinea Pigs

Dystocia is a common reproductive problem in guinea pigs. Many variables can increase the risk of dystocia. The most important maternal reason for dystocia is when the sow is bred too late. Female guinea pigs must be ideally mated for the first by 5-6 months, because the pubic symphysis must be open to allow normal delivery of guinea pig pups. Sows can be bred as early as 2-3 months or 350-450 grams body weight…

Client Education Handout 

Gravid Guinea Pig Care

Proper management of the pregnant sow requires an understanding of the risk factors associated with pregnancy-related disease and an ability to recognize early signs of problems. This client education handout explains proper care of the breeding and pregnant sow and provides tips for careful monitoring. Download the PDF version to distribute to veterinary clients or modify the Word document for your hospital’s needs.

Mark Suckow, DVM, DACLAM

Dr. Mark Suckow is Director of Research Animal Resources and a Professor in the Department of Veterinary Population Medicine at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Suckow is a Diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine with more than 25 years of experience in laboratory animal medicine, research with a variety of animal models, management of laboratory animal facilities and programs, as well as animal facility design and management. Dr. Suckow is a Past-President of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science and the American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners. He has numerous professional publications and Awards to his name, including the textbook The Laboratory Rabbit, Guinea Pig, Hamster, and Other Rodents.

Tim Reichard, DVM

Dr. Tim Reichard is the owner of Dr. Tim’s Wildlife and Exotics Care in Toledo, Ohio. Dr. Reichard obtained his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University in 1980. He then completed an internship and residency in zoological medicine at San Diego Zoo before serving as a Toledo Zoo veterinarian for over 25 years..

Article  Video 

Lizard Handling and Restraint

Diagnostic and therapeutic procedures cannot be administered until you and your staff can safely handle and restrain the lizard patient. This article reviews patient transport and defense mechanisms of the lizard, including tail autotomy, as well as protective gear and restraint techniques.


Chelonian Handling and Restraint

Diagnostic and therapeutic procedures cannot be administered until you and your staff can safely handle and restrain the turtle or tortoise patient. Many chelonian patients presented to the veterinary hospital are ill and therefore their temperament and strength level can be reduced. Normal, healthy chelonians tend to be bright, alert and very strong, making them extremely challenging to restrain. Gaining control of the head can be particularly difficult, however multiple techniques have been described.

Article  Video 

Snake Handling and Restraint

Veterinary practices are often more hesitant to deal with snakes than with other pet reptiles, yet for the most part snakes are probably the easiest reptile patients to capture and restrain in clinical practice. This article reviews the defense mechanisms of snakes as well as transport, restraint techniques, and potential complications.

Erica Mede, CVT

Erica Mede is the head veterinary technician at Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital and an avid herptoculturist. She is Founder and President of Friends of Scales Reptile Rescue, the only public, not-for-profit 501c3 reptile and amphibian rescue in Illinois. Friends of Scales services the Midwest assisting reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates in need of medical care and those that need to be rehomed. The rescue works closely with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Illinois Conservation Police as well as the local community. Erica serves as a guest lecturer and speaker at higher education institutions, veterinary hospitals…

Article  Teaching Module 

Emergency and Critical Care Teaching Module

This learning aid is designed to assist the participant in meeting the needs of VECCS-certified facility. The basics of emergency medicine and critical care universal, however veterinarians face a unique set of challenges when caring for birds, exotic companion mammals, and reptiles. Level 1 of this teaching module reviews the basics of exotic animal critical care. To learn more in Level 2, review the key points on critical care or supportive care for each taxonomic group: birds, exotic companion mammals, and reptiles. Each summary page includes a brief quiz that tests your knowledge and reinforces fundamental principles. Delve deeper into critical care of exotic animal patients in Level 3 by browsing pertinent exotic animal content on LafeberVet.


Minimum Retail Pricing Program

You’ve recommended Lafeber Company products for years. Now you can sell them without fear of being undersold. As of May 1, 2017, Lafeber Company products have a minimum retail price whether our foods are sold in your hospital, our stores, or online. This means you cannot be undersold by online retailers, pet chains, or any other retailer.


Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation in Exotic Animals

There is little empirical information available on cardiopulmonary resuscitation in most exotic animals. Fortunately, the basic principles of CPR are the same for all species, however there are important species-specific considerations. This review article explores techniques for establishing airway control, ventilation and cardiac compression recommendations as well as considerations for emergency drug selection.


Reptile Emergency & Critical Care Summary Page

Reptiles lack an epiglottis and the glottis is ready visualized, making intubation readily accomplished in most species. If the glottal folds are closed, apply topical lidocaine to facilitate intubation. The tracheal rings are complete in reptiles. Use of an inflated, cuffed endotracheal tube can lead to pressure necrosis because there is no elastic ligament to accommodate tracheal expansion. Always select an uncuffed endotracheal tube in small reptiles and never inflate a cuff in large reptiles …


Exotic Companion Mammal Emergency & Critical Care Summary Page

Although the principles of emergency medicine critical care are universal for all species, this approach must be balanced with an understanding of the unique aspects of small mammal medicine. Use this summary page to review the basic approach to the exotic companion mammal patient and select additional links to supplement your knowledge base.


Avian Emergency & Critical Care Summary Page

Although the principles of emergency medicine critical care are universal for all species, this approach must be balanced with an understanding of the unique aspects of avian medicine. Use this summary page to review the basic approach to the avian patient and select additional links to supplement your knowledge base.


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.


Analgesia and Sedation in Exotic Companion Mammals

The approach to analgesia and sedation in exotic companion mammals faces special challenges, including small patient size and unique features of the prey species mentality. Recognition of pain is more difficult in rabbits and rodents because many small mammals are very good at hiding the signs of pain commonly observed in predator species. Instead pain in a rabbit or rodent is often inferred from the patient’s clinical condition as well as the absence of normal behaviors. The diagnostic and therapeutic plan frequently requires some form of chemical restraint in exotic mammal medicine. When compared to general anesthesia, sedation is a safer option for the debilitated or critically ill small mammal.

Melinda Cowan, BVSc (hons) FANZCVS (Avian Medicine)

Dr. Melinda Cowan graduated from the University of Sydney in 2007 with first class honors. After initially working in a busy small animal clinic, she took a position at a specialized bird and exotic pet practice in Brisbane, Australia and completed a residency in avian medicine. Melinda completed final examinations in 2016 to become a bird specialist and Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists. Dr. Cowan currently practices at the Small Animal Specialist Hospital …


Test Your Knowledge: Reptile Critical Care

Test your knowledge after completing the reptile portion of the LafeberVet Emergency and Critical Care teaching module.


Test Your Knowledge: Exotic Companion Mammal Critical Care

Test your knowledge after completing the exotic companion mammal portion of the LafeberVet Emergency and Critical Care teaching module.

Andrea Hubbard, DVM, DACLAM

Dr. Andrea Hubbard is Assistant Director of Quality Assurance and Training for the Institute of Comparative Medicine at Columbia University in the City of New York…

Nichole Arbona

Nichole Arbona is a current veterinary medical student and a Lafeber Company Student Representative. She graduated from The University of Arizona in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology before moving to Kansas to complete her DVM at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine in the Class of 2020…


Test Your Knowledge: Avian Critical Care

Test your knowledge after completing the avian portion of the LafeberVet Emergency and Critical Care teaching module.

Article  Slideshow 

Recognizing Signs of Illness in Birds

Signs of illness in birds are often quite subtle until disease is advanced. Fortunately, quite a bit of information can be gleaned from a detailed history and careful observation. View this brief slideshow for tips on the visual examination.


2017 Avian Practitioner of the Year

Announcing the 2017 T.J. Lafeber Avian Practitioner of the Year: Michael Lierz, DZooMed, DECZM (WPH), DECPVS is a Full Professor and Director of the Clinic for Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish at the Justus-Liebig University of Giessen.

Article  Client Education Handout 

Emergency Preparedness Plan for Exotic Pets

Get ready now to care for exotic pets during an accident or natural catastrophe that causes great damage or even loss of life, such as blizzard, earthquake, fire, flood, hurricane, mud slide, or tornado. This disaster relief client education handout was revised and posted with permission from “Ready-Pets-Go!” by the Humane Society of Greater Rochester.

Brendan Carmel, BVSc, MVS MANZCVS (Unusual Pets) GDipComp

Dr. Brendan Carmel is the owner and Senior Veterinarian at Warranwood Veterinary Centre, which provides care for unusual and exotic pets in Melbourne, Australia. He is the 2017-2018 President of the Unusual Pet and Avian Veterinarians, special interest group of the Australian Veterinary Association. Dr. Carmel is also a founding member of both the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians and the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians. He is a member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in Unusual Pet Medicine and Surgery, an Associate Editor of the Australian Veterinary Journal…


What Parrots Want: The Importance and Use of Foraging and Environmental Enrichment for Birds Post Test

Post test for What Parrots Want: The Importance and Use of Foraging and Environmental Enrichment for Birds webinar.

Article  Video  Webinar 

What Parrots Want: The Importance and Use of Foraging and Environmental Enrichment for Birds

This webinar has been R.A.C.E.-approved for 1 hour of continuing education. Despite parrots being popular pets, much of the information regarding their nutritional and behavioral needs is still unknown. Unlike dogs and cats, most psittacine species are not domesticated and have therefore likely retained most, if not all, of their wild instincts and behavioral needs. In captivity, however, most parrots have little to no opportunity to perform these species-typical behaviors. This will not only reduce their welfare, but can also result in the onset of abnormal repetitive behaviors, including feather damaging behavior, and oral or locomotor stereotypies.

Article  Slideshow 

Bearded Dragon Infectious Disease Slideshow

Inland bearded dragons are native to Australia and are a popular companion animal. Private breeders often select for desirable temperaments and various color morphologies in an effort to provide an ever-increasing variety to the pet trade. They are also bred commercially and sold by large pet retailers making them a widely available pet reptile…


Avian Respiratory Anatomy, Physiology & Diseases: An Overview Post Test

The Avian Respiratory Tract Overview webinar was reviewed and approved by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) Registry of Approved Continuing Education (R.A.C.E.) program for 1 hour of continuing education, in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB R.A.C.E. approval…

The Avian Neurological Exam

As a part of the Lafeber Company Student Program, Dr. Susan Orosz presented an exclusive presentation to the University of Illinois School of Veterinary Medicine Non-Traditional Species Club as a distance learning event. This web-based seminar was recorded…

Nicholas Crossland, DVM, DACVP

Dr. Nicholas Crossland is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists. He currently serves as a T32 Post-Doctoral fellow and PhD student at Tulane National Primate Research Center in Covington, Louisiana. He has co-authored a variety of veterinary manuscripts including the Veterinary Clinical Pathology article “Nannizziopsis guarroi infection in 2 Inland Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps): clinical, cytologic, histologic, and ultrastructural aspects”

Article  Video  Webinar 

Avian Respiratory Anatomy, Physiology & Diseases: An Overview

This live webinar event was presented by James Morrisey, DVM, DABVP (AvianPractice). View a recording of this AAVSB R.A.C.E.-approved web-based seminar, then take the brief post-test to earn 1 hour of continuing education credit. The avian respiratory system has several unique and fascinating adaptations for flight that are important to clinicians. This webinar overviews the anatomy and physiology of the avian respiratory tract. Clinical correlates are pointed out as the presenter goes through anatomy and physiology. Clinical signs of respiratory disease in birds are then discussed along with how the clinician can use these signs to anatomically locate the origin of the problem to the upper respiratory tract, the major airways, the pulmonary parenchyma, and/or the coelomic cavity.


A Guide to Nasotracheal Intubation in Rabbits

Rabbit intubation can be accomplished using either an orotracheal or nasotracheal technique. Both intubation methods can be challenging in rabbit patients and require patience and practice. Nasotracheal intubation may be the preferred approach in situations where maximum access and maneuverability is required in the oral cavity. Nasotracheal intubation is also preferred where an extended recovery is expected.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting Problem: Dyspnea in Ferrets

This presenting problem article reviews the basic approach to the dyspneic ferret beginning with clinical signs of the dyspneic ferret, key points of urgent care, as well as case management. This latter section reviews tips on taking the history, performing the physical exam, important differential diagnoses, as well as the diagnostic/therapeutic approach.