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…

Article 

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.

Article 

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 

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.

Article  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.

Article 

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.

Article 

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.

Article  Webinar 

Quality Exotic Small Mammal Anesthesia

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.

Article  Video  Webinar 

Restraint & Handling of Small Exotic Companion Mammals Webinar

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.

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 

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 

Helicobacter in Small Mammals

In 1985, a spiral-shaped microorganism was isolated from the duodenal ulcer of a ferret. Since that time, gastritis and peptic ulcers have been routinely reported in ferrets. In fact one of the reasons ferrets are kept as laboratory animals, is for the study of Helicobacter mustelae…

Article 

Oxalic Acid Content of Selected Foods

High dietary levels of oxalic acid or oxalates may promote urolith or bladder stone formation in herbivores like the guinea pig and tortoise. The following chart shows the oxalate content in 100 grams of selected raw foods.

Article 

Calcium Content of Selected Foods

The following chart shows the calcium content in 1 cup of selected foods. Select treats for adult rabbits and rodents that are high in fiber, low in calcium, and low in carbohydrates and sugars.

Article 

Urolithiasis in Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents

Urolithiasis is characterized by single or multiple calculi throughout the urinary tract or by the presence of sandy material within the bladder and urethra. Uroliths are fortunately more of a historical disease in the ferret, while calculi are still an important problem in rabbits and rodents.

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…

Differential Diagnosis List 

Differential Diagnosis in Mice

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 Mice is designed as an aide or reminder system for use by qualified veterinarians and should never be used for diagnostic decision-making.

Differential Diagnosis List 

Differential Diagnosis in Rats

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 Rats is designed as an aide or reminder system for use by qualified veterinarians and should never be used for diagnostic decision-making.

Differential Diagnosis List 

Differential Diagnosis in Gerbils

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 Gerbils is designed as an aide or reminder system for use by qualified veterinarians and should never be used for diagnostic decision-making.

Differential Diagnosis List 

Differential Diagnosis in Guinea Pigs

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 Guinea Pigs is designed as an aide or reminder system for use by qualified veterinarians and should never be used for diagnostic decision-making.

Article 

Analgesia in Small Mammals

As in other species, to manage pain successfully, one must know when pain might occur. Several common medical disorders can result in acute pain such as otitis, conjunctivitis, and acute gastrointestinal disease. Chronic pain can arise from conditions such as arthritis, which commonly develops in older…

Differential Diagnosis List 

Differential Diagnosis in Hamsters

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.

Article 

Gerbil Species and Breeds

There are 87 known species and 14 genera of gerbil. The Mongolian Gerbil, also referred to as the desert rat, originates from Mongolia and Northern China and is an extremely good digger, digging with its front paws and kicking debris away with its strong hind legs.

Article 

Guinea Pig Breeds

Eleven guinea pig breeds are recognized by the American Cavy Breeders Association: Abyssinian, Abyssinian Satin, American, American Satin…

Article 

Adaptations in Herbivore Nutrition

Herbivore nutrition separates animals into two main categories, depending on where food particles are broken down and fermented prior to absorption. The categories are foregut and hindgut fermenters, with the hindgut group being broken down into colonic and cecal fermenters.

Differential Diagnosis List 

Differential Diagnoses in Chinchillas

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.

Article 

Ectoparasite Control in Small Mammals

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.

Article 

Equipment List for Small Mammal Practice

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.

Article 

Assessing the Sick Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs tend to be shy, sweet-natured creatures. Guinea pigs are prey species. Their survival depends on the ability to be alert and respond quickly, and they possess acute senses of smell and hearing. Approach guinea pigs in a calm, quiet manner…

Article 

Clinical Pathology for Exotic Small Mammals

Small mammals, such as rabbits and rodents, are stoic by nature and have evolved to mask their illness to avoid predation. This behavior can create a false sense of security in owners and a clinical challenge for veterinarians. In some cases, an animal that appears clinically normal may in fact have a terminal illness. Use hematology and biochemistry analysis to characterize the true physiological status of these species and aid in disease diagnosis.

Article 

Dental Caries in Herbivores

Rabbits and rodents may suffer from a wide range of dental problems. Although the vast majority of cases are related injury or to lack of wear and tooth elongation, dental caries, a bacterial plaque-associated disease, may also be seen.

Article 

Feeding the Hospitalized Small Mammal

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…

Article 

Hay: Feeding Small Herbivores

Insufficient dietary fiber can turn a happy, healthy rabbit into a HUGE, potentially catastrophic, clinical problem. Read about the basis for a healthy diet in Hay: Feeding Small Herbivores, reviewed by forage extension specialist, S. Ray Smith.

Article 

Dental Disease in Rabbits and Rodents

Dental problems in rabbits and rodents are often related to either trauma or lack of normal wear and tooth elongation. When herbivores like rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas receive concentrates, in the form of grain or pellets, with only limited access to hay and natural vegetation this diet provides too little tooth wear to compensate for the natural growth of the teeth.

Article 

Enterocolitis in Hamsters

Diarrhea is the most common problem in pet hamsters. In a recent survey of two large American commercial breeding facilities, approximately 3% of shipped hamsters develop diarrhea. Diarrhea caused by enterocolitis can occur in hamsters of any age or breed and is commonly known as “wet-tail”. Clinical signs in weanlings usually include diarrhea, anorexia, ruffled hair, dehydration, weight loss, and death. The mortality rate is often highest in…

Article 

Physical Examination of Small Exotic Mammals

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.

Article 

Fluid Administration in Exotic Companion Mammals

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…

Article 

Blood Collection in Rats and Mice

Blood collection is challenging in rats and mice, and heavy sedation or general anesthesia is almost always required in clinical practice. Increasing patient body temperature to promote vasodilation can also be helpful. Gently warm the rodent by placing its cage on a heating pad set on low or by placing the cage in an incubator set at 39°C (102°F) for 5 to 10 minutes. Monitor the patient carefully…

Article 

Dental Anatomy of Rabbits and Rodents

More hay please…Prolonged chewing of tough, abrasive foods such as hay causes rapid tooth wear in rabbits and herbivorous rodents. To compensate for this, these species have permanent teeth that grow and erupt continuously, never producing anatomical roots. Learn more in Dental Anatomy of Rabbits and Rodents by Dr. David Crossley.

Article 

Venipuncture in Small Mammals

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.

Article 

Sexing or Gender Determination in Small Mammals

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.

Article 

Mange in Exotic Small Mammals

Most species of mites are host-specific, however take special precautions, such as wearing exam gloves, to minimize the spread of potentially zoonotic pathogens. Humans that become infested with Sarcoptes scabei may develop wheals, vesicles, papules, and intense pruritus. Pet owners, especially children, may become infected with…

Article 

Dermatophytosis in Small Mammals

Although fungal disease is uncommon in small mammals, dermatophytosis is the most common mycosis seen in clinical practice. Despite the low incidence of clinical disease, rodents are common asymptomatic carriers of dermatophytes. Fungal pathogens are generally more important for their zoonotic potential. Rodents are frequently asymptomatic carriers of ringworm, and transmission of disease to human caretakers is not uncommon.

Article 

Small Mammal Dental Formulas: Cheat Sheet

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.

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 

Pain Management in Small Mammals

This brief article was created to serve as a synopsis of LafeberVet’s longer, more detailed “Analgesia in Small Mammals” authored by veterinary anesthesiologist, Dr. Paul Flecknell.

Article 

Mammary Tumors in Small Mammals

An important differential for lumps and bumps: Mammary gland tumors are relatively common in rats and mice, and are also seen in African pygmy hedgehogs and guinea pigs. Get the facts about mammary tumors in small mammals. Review diagnostics, management, prognosis and prevention of this important condition.

Article 

How to Feed the Small Herbivore Gastrointestinal Tract

Most small herbivores like the rabbit, guinea pig, and chinchilla possess a simple, non-compartmentalized stomach paired with a large cecum and colon. To feed the small herbivore gastrointestinal tract, provide insoluble dietary fiber to stimulate gut motility and maintain gastrointestinal health. A balanced small herbivore diet contains adequate fiber (minimum 25%), minimal starch, and moderate protein levels. Among small herbivorous non-ruminants, the gastrointestinal tract of the rabbit is the most specialized and this manuscript will focus on unique features of this species’ anatomy and physiology.

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.