Article  Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Virginia Opossum

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.

Article  Webinar 

Five Common Reptile Emergencies

View a recording of this AAVSB R.A.C.E.-approved web-based seminar presented by Eric Klaphake, DVM, DACZM, DABVP (Avian Practice), DABVP (Reptile & Amphibian), then take the brief post-test to earn 1 hour of continuing education credit. This webinar explores five common reptile clinical presentations in detail: trauma, gastrointestinal foreign body, neurological deficits, respiratory difficulty, and reproductive problems.

Article 

Sea Turtle Physical Examination: Part 2

Part of a unique series on sea turtle veterinary medicine and wildlife rehabilitation, this article explores many components of the sea turtle physical exam. Evaluation of the shell is discussed in both cheloniids and leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) as well as assessment of the cardiopulomonary system, skin, long bones and joints, cloaca and tail. Evaluation of the coelom by inguinal palpation is described as well as measurement of body temperature. Specialized testing such as neurologic and in-water examinations are also described. Common physical examination findings like fibropapillomas in green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and epibiota in loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) are also discussed. LOGIN to view references.

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 

Raptor Ophthalmology: Anatomy of the Avian Eye

A bird is a wing guided by an eye… Rochon-Duvigneaud: Lex Yeux et La Vision Des Vertebres

The avian eye is a large structure that takes up a significant portion of cranial mass. Raptors depend heavily on vision in order to compete successfully for survival. The posterior aspect of the eye fits snugly within the large bony orbit. The globes are separated by a thin interorbital septum, which measures significantly less than 1 mm in some areas…

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 

Raptor Ophthalmology: The Ophthalmic Exam

In many birds, the eye is the most important sensory organ, and even partial impairment of vision has far-reaching consequences. Unfortunately, ocular lesions are a common finding during ophthalmic examination in birds of prey.

Article 

Raptor Ophthalmology: Ocular Lesions

The large size of the raptor eye and its relative lack of orbital protection superiorly and laterally means any form of head trauma frequently involves the eye and its associated structures. In one report, ocular injuries were most commonly caused by vehicular collision, gunshot and leghold traps. The most common clinical finding in birds of prey presented for medical attention is hyphema. Trauma may also lead to…

Article 

Trauma in Avian Patients

Head trauma may occur when a bird flies into an object such as a window or ceiling fan, or when falls occur secondary to an improper wing trim, neurologic disease, or severe weakness. Evaluate the bird for evidence of head trauma such as blood in the choanal slit, ears, or nares. Gently palpate the skull. A fracture of pneumatic skull bone can allow air to escape creating emphysema. The pupillary light response (PLR) should also be evaluated, although PLR may be absent in birds with a normal reflex path due to avian anatomic differences. Perform a fundic exam, particularly in…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Beak Trauma

Beak trauma is a common problem in the companion parrot. Beak injury most often occurs secondary to bird bites and other forms of aggression. Other potential causes include damage from inappropriate caging or toys and iatrogenic damage during…

Article 

Spinal Injuries in Birds

Traumatic injury is the most common reason for admission of wild birds to rehabilitation centers. Spinal injuries in birds are particularly problematic, as they are incredibly difficult to diagnose, localize, and manage.

Unique anatomic features of the avian spine…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Shell Fractures in Chelonians

Understanding shell fractures

Shell fractures are one of the more common presentations of Chelonia to the private exotic animal practitioner. Shell fractures are frequently caused by vehicular trauma, lawn mowers, predation by dogs and raccoons, or drops from balconies or porches. I have even seen one case in which a person tried to use a tortoise […]

Client Education Handout 

Do’s and Don’ts of Avian First Aid

First aid is the initial treatment given to an injured or ill bird during an emergency. The goal of first aid is to stabilize the bird until veterinary medical care can be provided. Donated by Dr. Greg Burkett, this client educational handout helps owners prepare for emergencies. Topics covered include the creation of a home hospital cage, stocking a first aid kit, the basics of owner supportive care as well as specific advice for emergencies like bite wounds, bleeding, and head trauma.

Article 

The Snapping Turtle – Tips for the Practitioner

At the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, previously the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, we encourage private practices, emergency clinics, and rehabilitation centers to aid in the initial treatment of these injured turtles. We admit turtles from across the province, and it is extremely beneficial to the turtle to get immediate care locally before transfer. Snapping turtles are incredible in their ability to heal (albeit slowly!) and we cannot stress enough that the injuries can appear horrific, and yet can go on to heal, with subsequent release of the turtle back into the wild…

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Trauma in Ferrets

Ferrets are small, flexible, mischievous, and curious. This combination means that traumatic injury is a common problem, particularly when owners do not supervise their pets or “ferret proof” their living quarters. For instance, reclining chairs have been implicated in the injury and even death of many ferrets. Ferrets may also be accidentally stepped on or become trapped within a confined space. Trauma can result in a constellation of injuries that may affect the head, thorax, abdomen, spine, and limbs.

Article  Presenting Problem  Video 

Presenting problem: Hemorrhage in Birds

When a bird is presented for bleeding as with a broken blood feather, it is important to distinguish between frank hemorrhage and blood on the cage or bird without active bleeding. This brief presenting problem article on hemorrhage in birds reviews the key points of urgent care: Hemorrhage that has stopped is best left undisturbed initially, while active bleeding requires immediate intervention by applying firm, steady pressure.

Article  Presenting Problem  Video 

Presenting problem: Broken Blood Feather

Why is a broken blood feather an emergency? When the blood feather breaks, the feather shaft acts like a straw making the vessels bleed much longer than they would otherwise due to capillary action. The degree of blood loss can be significant, particularly in small birds. Use this video clip or article with still images to review the basic structure of the blood feather, key points of urgent care as well as follow-up care.