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.
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.
This webinar has been R.A.C.E.-approved for 1 hour of continuing education. Despite parrots being popular pets, much of the information regarding their nutritional and behavioral needs is still unknown. Unlike dogs and cats, most psittacine species are not domesticated and have therefore likely retained most, if not all, of their wild instincts and behavioral needs. In captivity, however, most parrots have little to no opportunity to perform these species-typical behaviors. This will not only reduce their welfare, but can also result in the onset of abnormal repetitive behaviors, including feather damaging behavior, and oral or locomotor stereotypies.
Categories: Avian, Parrot,
The Feather Destructive Behavior in Psittacine Birds webinar 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….
Objects are often not fully visible in everyday life. Human beings are capable of processing the complex visual information related to “incompleteness” because our visual environment is primarily composed of opaque objects that can overlap and partially hide each other. Scientists believe that many nonhuman species are also able to deal with “incompleteness”…
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.
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.
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…
“Griffin”, a grey parrot in Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s animal behavior and avian cognition lab, could wait up to 15 minutes for a better quality reward, even though both treats offered were preferred food items. Griffin displayed delayed gratification for longer than any previously tested avian subject including Goffin’s cockatoos. Fifteen minutes was the longest time evaluated, not necessarily the longest length of time Griffin could wait.
Explore the history of similar research in children and animals as well as the specific results of the study led by Adrienne E. Koepke of Hunter College and Suzanne L. Gray of Harvard University. Also learn more about Dr. Irene Pepperberg and the fascinating work of The Alex Foundation.
The AAVSB R.A.C.E.-approved webinar “Feather Destructive Behavior in Psittacine Birds” was presented by Lynne Seibert, DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl. American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. View a recording of this web-based seminar, then take the 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.
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.
Reproductive emergencies are most commonly seen in small psittacine birds like the cockatiel, lovebird and budgerigar parakeet. This article reviews conditions commonly seen on an emergency basis such as dystocia, egg yolk peritonitis, cloacal or oviductal prolapse, and/or chronic egg laying. Pertinent anatomy and physiology as well as case management, including the reproductive history, physical examination, diagnostic imaging, and behavioral modification techniques are also discussed.
Pediatrics is one of the most fascinating and rewarding fields of avian medicine. The key to hand raising healthy psittacine chicks is a strong preventive medicine program based on sound husbandry practices. Physical examination is an important part of preventive health care.
Behavior is the most direct tool a wild bird has to respond to its environment, and it ultimately determines whether it survives and breeds in its natural environment. There are two functional categories of avian behaviors: self-maintenance behaviors and social behaviors.
Foraging for food is a basic behavioral repertoire for birds in the wild. The lack of opportunities for companion birds to engage in this behavior may play an important role in the development of abnormal behaviors. For example, Snyder et al documented that Puerto Rican Amazon parrots spend approximately 4–6 hour per day foraging and that they routinely travel several miles between sites. In contrast, companion birds in our homes like the orange-winged Amazon parrot spend approximately 30–72 minutes per day eating a pelleted diet without traveling, manipulating food items, and not attempting to balance their own diet. It has been suggested…
Exotic animal medicine requires a delicate balance between medical concepts true for all living creatures (“one medicine”) and species-specific information and this is true for lizards.
Lizard behavior varies with the species, however the normal lizard tends to be alert, responsive, and curious. Some species, like the bearded dragon and leopard gecko tend to be particularly active and animated while most chameleons are more…
The lethargic, weak chelonian may exhibit a lack of carpal or truncal lift. It may sit flat on the exam table instead of lifting up on all four feet, and it may not be able to retract its head into the shell with the expected degree of strength. It can be challenging to…
This brief article was created to serve as a synopsis of LafeberVet’s longer, more detailed “Avian Analgesia” authored by avian veterinarian, Dr. Michelle Hawkins.
Restraint collar devices are also referred to as ‘neck collars’ or ‘safety collars’. The most common restraint collar is the Elizabethan collar (or e-collar). Many different manufacturers sell e-collars and modified e-collars designed for different species and for specific purposes. Restraint collars are widely used to prevent undesirable behaviors and self-injury. Clinically, veterinarians have used restraint collars in birds to prevent self-mutilation or self-trauma and to prevent animals from removing intravenous catheters, bandages, and other external devices.
Many exotic animals seen in clinical practice are prey species. In the wild, individuals that appear sick or injured are easy prey for predators, and they may even be segregated or attacked by group members. When faced with the stress of a strange examination room, most prey species will attempt to appear alert and strong as an instinctive survival adaptation.
Snake behavior will vary with the species, however the normal snake tends to be alert, responsive, and curious. Frequent tongue flicking is a sensory gathering behavior used to deliver scents to the vomeronasal organ. The normal snake is generally active, often coiling or twining its body. This is particularly true for smaller species. Signs of aggression in the snake may include…
Imprinting is an important, natural part of a young animal’s development where it learns to recognize its own species. Imprinting utilizes the senses of sight, touch, and sound. Imprinting via sound probably begins in the egg during the pip-to-hatch stage when the parent and chick vocalize back and forth. After hatching, sight becomes an important factor in imprinting as the chick’s visual ability improves. The chick associates the images it sees with the sounds and tactile sensations with which it is already familiar.
It is not enough to prevent imprinting on humans…
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.
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…
Grooming in the bird can refer to clipping wing feathers, trimming nails, and smoothing and/or trimming the beak. Grooming can be performed by the veterinarian or an astute, skilled veterinary technician, however before the procedure begins one must always ask should the bird be groomed and should the bird be groomed at my practice?
Does my rabbit really need a companion? Many experts on house rabbit care agree that most individuals are not meant to live in solitude, away from members of their own kind. This client education handout discusses house rabbit companionship and the challenging process of rabbit introductions.
To the uninitiated, rabbits have a reputation for being docile, passive creatures. Any aggressive actions from a house rabbit can be surprising–even alarming–to new owners. In this client education handout, fights between rabbits as well as rabbit aggression towards people are discussed.
How to Question the Source of Your Future Lifelong Companion:
By the time you are ready to select the breeder or shop to purchase your companion parrot, you have hopefully done your homework…
Lovebirds live in flocks among the woodlands, savannah and forest edges of sub-Saharan Africa and Indian Ocean islands.
Lories and lorikeets live in large flocks in the wild. Depending on the species, lories and lorikeets originate from the southeast Asia archipelago or parts of Australia. These birds will fly from island to island in search of food. Lories and lorikeets will eat coconuts and grapes and they are considered a pest to farmers. The nomadic Rainbow lorikeet follows eucalyptus flowers blooming along the Australian coast. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the conservation status of most lories and lorikeets as “least concern”, although some species are considered vulnerable or “near threatened”. The Red-and-blue lory (Eos histrio), Rimitara lorikeet (Vini kuhlii), and Ultramarine lorikeet (Vini ultramarina) are endangered.
The Eclectus is a native of Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and/or the Solomon Islands. This species has also been introduced to Palau. Eclectus parrots have an extremely large range, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists their conservation status as “least concern”.
Most conures are found in regions of the Amazon Basin but some species are from the Caribbean islands. Conures are on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) list. These species are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless their trade is strictly regulated.
Cockatoos are medium to large-sized parrots with thick, heavy bills that range from 30-70 cm in length. There are 18 species of cockatoos in 6 genera. The most common pet cockatoos are the umbrella, sulphur-crested, lesser sulphur-crested, and Moluccan cockatoo.
Cockatiels originate from the non-coastal regions of Australia. The free-ranging population is very large, and the IUCN lists this species’ conservation status of “least concern”. Cockatiels probably represent the smallest of the cockatoos, although there is some controversy surrounding this classification. Cockatiels are common as aviary birds and they make excellent pets.
Originating from the Canary Islands, the canary’s song captured the attention of Europeans, who started importing these birds in the late 1500’s. Although breeding for desirable traits has produced many variations, the wild canary is a small, green bird. Free-ranging populations are strong and are found in a wide variety of habitats, which is why the canary was placed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List category of “Least Concern”.
Amazon parrots originate from a large portion of the Amazon Basin in South America although species-specific ranges vary. Habitats range from savannah, palm grove, scrub forest to rainforest. Wild Amazon parrots are incredibly active, foraging and flying in flocks…
African grey parrots are among the most familiar of all parrots. Originating from central Africa, many African cities now have feral populations. The Timneh grey parrot is localized to the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone. Habitats for grey parrots include savannahs, coastal mangroves, woodland and edges of forest clearings. African greys are listed under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix II, which means these species are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but may become so unless their trade is strictly regulated…
Why Does My Rabbit? Common house rabbit behavior questions answered.
In many instances, rabbits kept in hutches, pet stores, or laboratories do not receive enough stimulation or physical space to demonstrate their full behavioral repertoire. Owners of house rabbits know these are intelligent creatures with distinct personalities and a range of behaviors. In this educational handout, clients can review normal husbandry, age, and sex-related behavior as well as normal sounds and actions like chewing and digging. The challenges of multi-rabbit households are also discussed.
Many parrots instinctively strive for a position of dominance within their flock (your household). Many of the behavioral problems that can arise from such a situation, may be prevented when…
It is a natural instinct for parrots to hide signs of illness. In the wild, this skill serves them well, and in fact, may save their lives…
The Savannah monitor is native to the savannahs of eastern and southern Africa.
Parrots are extremely intelligent creatures; and toys are one of the most important items we can purchase for our birds. Many avian behaviorists recommend four types of toys…
Pet bird behavior is complex, and it is crucial that bird owners have a realistic understanding of what to expect from their pets…
The African pygmy hedgehog, also known as the 4-toed or white-bellied hedgehog, originates from central Africa.
Native to South America, the guinea pig is a lively, lovable rodent that requires relatively easy care. This client education handout reviews housing and diet recommendations as well as the basics of safe handling, enrichment, and grooming. Download the PDF version to distribute to veterinary clients or modify the Word document for your hospital’s needs.
In the wild, parrots exhibit four main behaviors: social interaction, grooming, foraging, and sleeping. The vast majority of their days are spent foraging or searching for food.
Feather picking is the most frustrating behavioral condition in pet birds from both the veterinarian’s and the owner’s perspective. This client education handout, donated by Dr. Eric Klaphake, explains that feather picking is a symptom and not a particular disease. Potential causes of feather picking are summarized and possible veterinary tests and treatment recommendations are listed.