The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial native to North America. This New World species is correctly called an “opossum” as opposed to the Old World “possum”. This information sheet reviews natural history, conservation status, and taxonomy, as well as a number of clinically relevant information including (but not limited to) diet, housing, behavior, normal physiologic data and anatomy, restraint, preventive medicine, zoonoses, and important medical conditions seen in the opossum.
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.
Lafeber Company was proud to serve as the sponsor of an Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians Student Case Report Contest…
A 3-year old intact male guinea pig was presented on emergency for suspected bloat and with a history of chronic hair loss. Clinical examination revealed non-pruritic symmetric truncal alopecia, thin skin, severe cachexia, and an abdominal fluid wave. Alkaline phosphatase, alanine transaminase, aspartate aminotransferase, gamma-glutamyl transferase, leukocytes (neutrophils), bilirubin, and serum cortisol were markedly elevated. Abdominal ultrasonography revealed peritoneal effusion, cholestasis, and cholelithiasis. Hyperadrenocorticism was diagnosed based on…
An adult intact female guinea pig was presented with dysorexia, exhaustion and weight loss. Radiographic and ultrasound findings demonstrated a severe gas dilatation of the stomach, severe gallbladder distension, and abnormalities on the organ topography. On laparotomy, a 180-degree gastric dilatation and volvulus was noticed with a gallbladder obstruction, hepatic lipidosis, and adhesions between the bowels…
An eleven year old male neutered rex rabbit presented with lethargy and inappetence of two days duration, and an acute episode of vestibular ataxia. Anemia and elevations in plasma alkaline phosphatase and alanine aminotransferase were evident. Abdominal ultrasound revealed questionable, diffuse hepatomegaly. Computed tomography revealed hepatic venous congestion, severe dilation of the pre-hepatic caudal vena cava, and bicavitary effusion, consistent with Budd-Chiari-like syndrome. Turbulent blood flow within the dilated segment of the caudal vena cava was present on spectral Doppler evaluation. Fine needle aspirate and cytology of the liver revealed necrosis with no evidence of infectious organisms…
A female, spayed miniature lop rabbit presented 1-week post spay with marked subcutaneous swelling along the entire length of the surgical incision. Subsequent debridement of the abscess and closure of the incision site was somewhat unsuccessful, with the patient returning for another debridement procedure, after which the wound was left open for continued flushing and debridement. Culture and sensitivity of the purulent material grew a multi-drug resistant Coagulase-positive Staphylococcus.
Two guinea pigs suspected of having hyperthyroidism based on weight loss, presence of a cervical mass, and elevated total thyroxine (TT4) levels were confirmed to have active thyroid masses via scintigraphy with Technetium-99 and treated with radioactive iodine therapy (I¹³¹). Both patients responded initially with weight gain and a decrease in the TT4. The purpose of this case series is to describe the use of scintigraphy to aid in confirming a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism, as well as to show the benefits and effectiveness of using radioactive iodine therapy (I¹³¹) to treat hyperthyroidism in guinea pigs in order to provide the best treatment protocol.
A 1-year-old female intact lionhead rabbit was referred for a history of hematuria, bloody vaginal discharge, anorexia, and lethargy unresponsive to antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. Based upon physical examination, radiographs and abdominal ultrasonography a uterine mass was suspected. Severe regenerative anemia secondary to blood loss was diagnosed and the rabbit was administered a whole blood transfusion prior to surgical intervention. Abdominal exploratory with ovariohysterectomy revealed…
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
Basic equipment for high-quality exotic companion mammal practice focuses on supportive care, such as fluid therapy, appropriate housing and nutritional support, as well as equipment needed for physical examination and basic techniques. This detailed equipment list also includes supplies recommended for surgical and anesthetic procedures as well as advanced diagnostic techniques.
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.
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 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.
Test your knowledge after completing the exotic companion mammal portion of the LafeberVet Emergency and Critical Care teaching module.
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.
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.
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.
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Quality Exotic Small Mammal Anesthesia 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….
This R.A.C.E.-approved continuing education webinar was presented by Terry Campbell, MS, DVM, PhD. View a recording of this web-based seminar to earn 1 hour of continuing education credit. Cytology is a simple, rapid diagnostic procedure requiring little in terms of equipment and cost to the veterinarian. Most clinical veterinarians are familiar with sample collection techniques for domestic mammals; which also apply to the small exotic mammals. Common cytological specimens used in avian and reptilian medicine include: aspirates, imprints of biopsy material, tracheal washes, crop (ingluvies) aspirates or washes in birds, gastric washes in reptiles, sinus aspirates, lung washes in reptiles, aspiration of coelomic fluid, and fecal smears.
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.
Part of LafeberVet’s Basic Rabbit Care Teaching Module, the Rabbit Anatomy Basics slideshow is a 22-minute recording designed to impart a basic understanding of rabbit anatomy for the veterinary technician and veterinary nurse. This slideshow may also be of use as a basic learning aid for veterinary medical students and as a basic refresher for the clinician.
The domestic or European rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus, is descended from wild rabbits of Europe and northwestern Africa, where free-ranging Oryctolagus are still found. Rabbits come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors. The American Rabbit Breeder Association currently recognizes 49 rabbit breeds, and the number listed by the British Rabbit Council is even higher. Many house rabbits have several different breeds in their background. View this 8-minute slideshow to review common rabbit breeds seen in clinical practice as well as their associated disease predispositions.
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.
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.
Head tilt or torticollis, also known as “wry neck” and uncontrolled or episodic rolling are common presentations in the pet rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). There are two common causes of head tilt or torticollis and rolling in the rabbit…
Exotic small mammals can be challenging to safely induce, maintain and recover from general anesthesia. View the recording of this AAVSB R.A.C.E.-approved webinar, which explores clinical anesthesia in exotic companion mammals from patient assessment and anesthetic induction to monitoring and recovery. The use of common premedications, induction agents, maintenance drugs, and post-operative analgesics will be compared and contrasted in exotic companion mammals. Multimodal anesthetic techniques, such as epidural anesthesia and constant rate infusions, will also be discussed. After reviewing the recording, take the brief post-test to earn 1 hour of continuing education credit.
“Ick”: An emerging disease – A disease syndrome has recently been observed in sugar gliders that includes diarrhea, anorexia, wet, “sticky” joeys, pouch exudate, and joey deaths. The furred, but still largely pouch-dwelling joeys appear poorly groomed or are covered with tacky mucus. Clinically, the joeys are lethargic, dehydrated, with evidence of diarrhea. Some adults appear to be asymptomatic, although mild diarrhea has been noted in many cases.
The sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps) is a small marsupial native to Australia and New Guinea. Although sugar gliders lack marsupial bones, also known as epipubic bones or pelvic ribs, female gliders or “dams” possess a pouch or marsupium. Like all marsupials, the glider gives birth to a fetus, which completes development inside the pouch…
Self-mutilation is sometimes observed in isolated sugar gliders or in situations causing social stress. Improper groupings are common in captivity as pet owners often combine a male with one or two females, without realizing that not all individuals get along…
LafeberVet is an ever-growing online library. Although some NEW content is featured in email campaigns, follow us on Twitter to keep up on all the latest posts…
View the recording of this free, interactive webinar, presented by Neil Forbes, BVetMed DECZM (Avian) FRCVS. Many sick or injured exotic animals are presented in critical condition. More of these patients can be saved by appropriate fluids and nutritional support, than by any single medical or surgical procedure. In practical terms, providing this support is often easier said than done. Dr. Forbes’ presentation serves to demystify some of the challenges encountered; practical solutions for all exotic patients are described and discussed.
Lafeber Company was proud to serve as THE platinum sponsor of ExoticsCon 2015. Join us in Portland in 2016 for the next Joint Conference of the Association of Avian Veterinarians, Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians, and Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians.
Gastric dilatation or “bloat” and gastrointestinal obstruction is an acute and life-threatening condition of pet rabbits commonly caused by an obstruction with pellets of compressed hair. The discussion portion of this Case Challenge reviews onset, clinical signs, and diagnostic test results of obstructive and non-obstructive gastrointestinal disease. This condition is considered a surgical emergency and key points of urgent care strive to stabilize the patient through analgesia, decompression when indicated, and supportive care. Surgery is discussed as well as recommendations for patients that cannot go to surgery due to clinical or financial constraints. Follow-up care as well as homecare recommendations, disease prevention, and prognosis are also explored.
Gastrointestinal obstruction and a stomach distended with gas and fluid or “bloat” is a serious health problem of pet rabbits. Use this client educational handout to answer owner questions: What causes bloat and obstruction? Why is bloat a serious condition? What does bloat look like in the rabbit? This handout also explains the basics of a diagnostic workup, treatment, follow-up care, and prevention for this critical condition.
A 5-year old female spayed lop rabbit presents with a history of acute anorexia (<24 hours) and lethargy. Use history, physical examination findings, laboratory results and survey radiographs to solve this case challenge.
The European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is one of the most common species seen in wildlife rehabilitation in western Europe. Hedgehogs are potential carriers of zoonotic disease. Ringworm infection caused by Trichophyton mentagrophytes is the most commonly contracted zoonosis of wildlife rehabilitators in the United Kingdom. Other important medical conditions include ectoparasites infestations, gastrointestinal disease caused by Salmonella enteritidits or coccidiosis as well as bronchopneumonia associated with bacterial and/or lungworm infection.
Use our European hedgehog 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.
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.