The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial native to North America. Although veterinarians are allowed to provide humane care to any injured or orphaned wild animal, it is important to know your state laws as it is illegal to keep a pet opossum in many states. This client education handout reviews the basics of a pet opossum diet, caging, behavior, as well as health concerns.
Capnometry measures the maximum value of carbon dioxide (CO2) obtained at the end of expiration or end-tidal carbon dioxide (ETCO2). There is good correlation between ETCO2 and arterial CO2 in birds and mammals and capnography can be used as a reliable tool to evaluate the adequacy of ventilation in these species. Capnography can only be used to identify trends in reptiles because of cardiac shunting of blood past the reptilian lungs.
Even the most steadfast and seasoned veterinary anesthetist can find themselves intimidated by exotic animal patients. Standard veterinary anesthesia monitors are not designed to read the extremely high (or extremely low) heart rates and respiratory rates of some exotic animal patients. Despite these challenges, valuable information can be gathered from monitoring tools as well as hands-on techniques. Essential vital signs, such as heart rate and rhythm, respiratory rate and depth, body temperature, and mucous membrane color should all be evaluated.
Arterial blood pressure is a function of heart rate, blood volume, stroke volume, and arterial compliance. Indirect arterial blood pressure is most commonly measured by Doppler ultrasound or non-invasive oscillometric monitors. What are the limitations of indirect blood pressure measurements in exotic animal patients? How is this technique unique in exotic companion mammals when compared to dogs and cats? How is this technique performed in birds and can this procedure be used in reptiles?
Electrocardiography can be used to detect and diagnose arrhythmias and conduction abnormalities, particularly during long-term anesthesia. How are leads attached to exotic animal patients? And what is the normal appearance of normal electrocardiogram tracings in birds or reptiles?
Heart rate and oxygenation should ideally be monitored during every anesthetic event. Patient size can limit the accuracy of pulse oximetry readings in exotic companion mammals and this technique has not been validated in birds or reptiles, however trends during the course of anesthesia can still provide useful clues to patient clinical status.
Created by veterinary technician specialist, Katrina Lafferty, this anesthesia monitoring record is available for download as as both a Word document and PDF.
Download this anesthetic record, available as a PDF, and recommended by veterinary technician specialist, Katrina Lafferty.
Download this anesthesia & recovery record, suggested by veterinary technician specialist, Katrina Lafferty. This anesthetic record was created by the Association of Veterinary Anaesthetists and is from a collection of online resources recommended by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Practice Standards Scheme.
Download this anesthesia monitoring sheet, available as a PDF, and recommended by veterinary technician specialist, Katrina Lafferty.
This award is given annually, or at the Selection Committee’s discretion, to an outstanding practitioner that has advanced the quality of health care for companion birds.
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 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 (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…
Lafeber Company was proud to serve as the sponsor of an Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians Student Case Report Contest…
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 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.
The Lafeber Company Student Program supports the growth of zoological medicine in veterinary medical schools by sponsoring speakers and other educational events.
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.
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 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…
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.
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 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 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…
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.
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…
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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
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 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…
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 after completing the reptile portion of the LafeberVet Emergency and Critical Care teaching module.
Test your knowledge after completing the exotic companion mammal portion of the LafeberVet Emergency and Critical Care teaching module.
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 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 after completing the avian portion of the LafeberVet Emergency and Critical Care teaching module.
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.
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.