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 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.
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…
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.
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.
Although pigeons and doves are a diverse group of birds, they do share some clinically significant anatomy and physiology, including a large, bilobed crop or ingluvies, crop milk production, as well as a vascular plexus found in the subcutis of pigeons. This post also touches on specialized anatomic features unique to fruit pigeons before summarizing some features of the columbid integumentary system, musculoskeletal system, and urogenital tract.
All raptors consume a meat-based diet ranging from the specialist diet of the fish-eating osprey (Pandion haliaetus) to a generalist diet that can include insects, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and even carrion. Other than poultry, the exact nutritional requirements of birds are unknown, however the natural raptor diet is always relatively high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates. Whole prey diets have a calcium/phosphorus ratio of 1.5:1 as the bird actually consumes the bones as well as the meat…
Raptors are a diverse group of birds consisting of order Strigiformes or owls and diurnal birds of prey such as falcons, hawks, and eagles. Order Falconiformes, traditionally considered a broadly defined, polyphyletic group, has recently been divided into two orders with only family Falconidae (falcons and caracaras) remaining in Falconiformes. Other diurnal raptors belong to order Accipitriformes …
As a part of the Encore ICARE Lafeber Symposium Lecture Series, Dr. Susan Orosz provided an introductory presentation on anatomy and physiology of the avian gastrointestinal tract. 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 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.
Authored by experts in the field: Terry Norton, DACZM, Director/Founder of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and Jeanette Wyneken, PhD, this article is part of a unique series on sea turtle veterinary medicine and wildlife rehabilitation. Physical examination of the head and neck are covered including eyes, adnexa, ears, nares, beak, the oral exam, throat, and cervical vertebrae. Normal findings that reflect adaptations to a marine lifestyle are reviewed and unique findings seen in green (Chelonia mydas), flatback (Natator depressus), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempi), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), and olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) turtles are discussed. LOGIN to view references.
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.
Weight trends can be a helpful indicator of hydration and nutritional status in veterinary medicine and wildlife rehabilitation settings. This article explores body weight and body measurements in the green (Chelonia mydas), flatback (Natator depressus), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempi), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), and olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) turtle. Subjective and objective body condition scoring systems used during physical examination are described and examples ranging from emaciation to obesity are illustrated. The relationship between carapace length and sea turtle sexual maturity is also discussed. LOGIN to view references.
Mediterranean tortoises belong to family Testudinidae and genus Testudo and include: Testudo marginata (marginated tortoise), T. weissingeri, T. horsfieldii (Russian tortoise), T. graeca ibera (Greek spur-thighed tortoise) not to be confused with the spurred tortoise, Geochelone sulcata, T. hermanni (Hermann’s tortoise), and T. kleinmanni (Egyptian tortoise).
Use our Mediterranean tortoise Basic Information Sheet to compare taxonomy, physical characteristics, differences in diet and housing needs, as well as preventive care and diseases of this group of chelonians. Login to view information sheet references.
A simple retweet of a turtle eye examination at the National Aquarium inspired a day of terrapin-friendly tweets by LafeberVet. Twitter topics ranged from turtle and tortoise ophthalmic anatomy to chelonian clinical problems like blepharedema, commonly associated with hypovitaminosis A in aquatic turtles.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, and the majority of total body calcium is found within bones and teeth. Most mammals make only one or two sets of teeth in a lifetime, however rabbit teeth continually grow throughout their lifetime. This continual tooth eruption plays an important role in the rabbit’s long-term calcium needs.
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that comprise a small percentage of dietary lipids ingested by humans and animals. The name “omega-3” refers to the location of the double bond closest to the methyl end of the hydrocarbon chain, and may be alternatively referred to as “n-3” in the literature. Chief among the omega-3 fatty acids is…
Fennec foxes (Vulpes zerda) are the smallest members of Order Carnivora. Females or “vixens” weigh approximately 0.8 kg. Adult males or “reynards” reach up to 1.5 kg and stand 18 -22 cm at the shoulder. Its most distinctive feature is characteristic large pinnae, which function to dissipate heat and enhance hearing. Fennec foxes are highly specialized to desert life and found almost exclusively in arid, sandy regions. Densest populations are found in the central Sahara desert region of North Africa.
Use our Fennec fox 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 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…
The avian patient poses special challenges for delivery of injectable medications. Although the techniques involved are not unique to birds, special knowledge of avian anatomy as well as delicate, proficient technical skills are required. Depending on the species, the individual, and the clinical situation, injections can be delivered by intramuscular, intravenous, intraosseous, subcutaneous, intratracheal, or intracoelomic routes. Parenteral drug administration provides the advantage of delivering a precise dose when a rapid therapeutic response is necessary. Disadvantages include stress as well as the potential irritation or pathology that can occur at the injection site.
Diarrhea is a common clinical presentation in avian medicine. Diarrhea may be caused by a variety of conditions, however it is particularly important for the practitioner to understand the anatomy and diseases of the avian gastrointestinal tract and associated organs.
The most widespread mineral in the body, calcium is required for normal metabolism and bone mineralization.
Calcium homeostasis is under the control of calcitonin, which is produced by the ultimobranchial gland, vitamin D, and parathyroid hormone. In laying hens, most dietary calcium is used for egg production. Rising estrogen levels promote increased intake of calcium supplements like cuttlefish bone and calcium-rich foods, however the quantity of calcium ingested daily is insufficient for the massive deposition of calcium required for eggshell calcification.
When Dr. Michelle Hawkins of the Companion Exotic Animal Medicine & Surgery Service of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine expressed interest in an encore presentation of the Grey Parrot Anatomy Project for veterinary medical students, Dr. M. Scott Echols and LafeberVet were happy to oblige. Veterinary medical educators and their students were invited to attend this free, interactive, web-based seminar featuring incredible avian anatomy images, video clips that enhance our understanding of anatomy, and an exciting research update…
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.
Air sac cannulas are routinely used to ventilate birds by a route other than endotracheal intubation. Air sac tubes are used for oxygenation and anesthesia, especially during surgery of the head or trachea where tracheal intubation would be cumbersome. In addition, air sac cannulas provide a means to medicate air sacs directly, and they are also used to aid dyspneic birds with tracheosyringeal obstruction from foreign bodies, granulomas, or tumors.
Eye problems are common in both laboratory and pet rabbits, and flushing of the nasolacrimal ducts is frequently performed in rabbits with heavy tearing or epiphora. The goal of a nasolacrimal flush is…
The ferret is a carnivore with a short, simple gastrointestinal tract and a relatively rapid gastrointestinal transit time. Diarrhea is the most common clinical sign in ferrets with gastrointestinal disease, with the exception of gastrointestinal foreign bodies where anorexia and weight loss are the primary presenting complaints.
Primarily a disease of captive reptiles, dysecdysis is sporadically seen in free-ranging reptiles. Among captive reptiles, difficult sheds are most common in those with a complete shedding cycle: snakes and some geckos such as the leopard gecko and African fat-tailed gecko. Some skinks with relatively tiny digits, are prone to retaining shed skin on the digits.
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.
The average small animal veterinarian may easily become comfortable with ferrets. Ferrets are hardy and relatively stoic, and as members of the order Carnivora, ferrets are predator species that approach the world in a manner similar to cats and dogs. A relatively small number of medical problems are seen very commonly in ferrets. Careful study of these conditions and attention to the unique aspects of ferret anatomy and behavior will prepare the veterinarian for basic emergency care of the ferret.
Download LafeberVet’s Rabbit Dental Chart for use during clinical procedures ranging from standard dental examination to major orofacial surgery.
Radiography is a non-invasive, informative tool that is designed to be used alongside other diagnostic information. This review article first provides tips that will maximize success and describes common radiographic positions. The bulk of this review article describes normal radiographic findings of various body systems but common abnormalities such as organomegaly are also described.
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. What are five things you can do to promote dental health in small herbivores?
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.
If you are comfortable with psittacine anatomy and physiology, then you are well on your way to understanding raptors, however there are countless features that make this taxonomic group unique. LafeberVet has focused on ten amazing and clinically significant facts on bird of prey anatomy.
Traumatic wounds are seen in exotic animals, and are particularly common in wildlife patients. Proper initial management of the wound is critical for a successful outcome and rapid healing, and an understanding of anatomy of the skin and physiology of wound healing is necessary for effective treatment.
The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) has been domesticated for hundreds of years. Companion animals may be housed indoors as house rabbits or outdoors in hutches. Rabbits are also used as show animals, producers of meat and wool, and in laboratory settings. Use our European rabbit Information Sheet to review taxonomy, husbandry needs, normal physiologic values, anatomy, preventive care as well as important medical conditions. Login to view information sheet references.
Hay is essential to a rabbit’s health. Rabbits should also be fed a small amount of high fiber pellets, and a variety of vegetables including leafy green like…
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…
Injuries of the thoracic limb may present as a wing droop or an inability to fly. Injuries of the pelvic limb may present as lameness, unequal weight bearing, and/or an uneven grip.
Perching birds or songbirds belong to order Passeriformes, which makes up the largest taxonomic group of birds. Passeriforms make up nearly 60% of all birds with over 5,000 species belonging to this group. If you are comfortable with psittacine anatomy and physiology, then you are well on your way to understanding passerines. LafeberVet has listed ten interesting, clinically significant facts about passerine anatomy and physiology…
In many ways, radiographic anatomy of the ferret is similar to that seen in dogs and cats. Unique features include the…
The paired ovaries and testes, which range in color from yellow to grayish-pink, are located dorsomedially within the coelom although their exact location is species-specific. The right gonad sits cranial to the left, particularly in snakes. Females possess a right and left oviduct, but no true uterus. The oviduct empties directly into the cloaca through a genital papillae
So a frog hops into your exam room…
Know just enough amphibian medicine to feel dangerous? Read Assessing the Sick Frog or Toad for practical information that will help you–and your patient–in the exam room.
Always happy to see frog and toad patients? ‘Hop to’ our brief quiz!
Free-ranging sugar gliders live in the treetops and glide from tree to tree using their patagium like a kite and their tail as a rudder to control the direction of flight. The patagium is a furred membrane of skin or gliding membrane that stretches between the forelimbs and hind legs. These skin folds are extensions of the lateral body wall. When the glider is at rest, this excess skin appears as a rippled border along the sides. During a glide, the skin spreads out to form a rectangle…
Waterfowl belong to Order Anseriformes. Virtually all anseriforms belong to family Anatidae, which consists of ducks, geese, and swans. If you are comfortable with psittacine anatomy and physiology, then many features of waterfowls will be familiar. LafeberVet has listed twelve interesting and clinically significant facts about waterfowl…
Order Galliformes is a large, diverse taxonomic group with a worldwide distribution. More than 250 species have a chicken-like appearance and short, rounded wings. LafeberVet has listed twelve interesting and clinically significant facts about galliform anatomy and physiology including important vocabulary terms.
Be prepared for your next bird patient. Review the basic approach to the avian physical examination, including history, review of signalment, and visual examination. Key parts of the exam will vary, but generally include a body weight in grams, the oropharynx, crop, sternum, coelom, and vent. The fundus should be routinely evaluated in trauma patients…
Like other shedding problems, retained spectacles or “eye caps” are a sign of an underlying problem related to patient health or husbandry. If retained spectacles are not removed, they can interfere with vision, damage the eye, and/or serve as a source of infection
The goal of this case study is to reinforce and highlight common concepts, situations, and presentations that reptile veterinarians encounter on a regular basis, while also expanding knowledge by including content not entirely available in textbooks. This case study is based on a report prepared by Veterinary Answers consultant Dan Johnson, DVM, DABVP (Exotic Companion Mammal). An 8-year old ovariectomized green iguana presents today for gradual onset of ascending tail necrosis (gangrene) over weeks to months…