Article 

The Exotic Animal History

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…

Article  Client Education Handout 

Emergency Preparedness Plan for Exotic Pets

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.

Client Education Handout 

Basic Rabbit Care Handout and Infographic

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.

Form-Questionnaire 

Amphibian Physical Examination Form

The amphibian examination beings with careful visual observation. Use of a small, transparent container can enhance the amphibian visual examination and minimize handling time. Download the LafeberVet Amphibian Physical Examination Form, available in PDF, DOCX and DOC formats.

Form-Questionnaire 

Amphibian History Form

A detailed history is mandatory for the amphibian patient as husbandry needs can have a tremendous impact on amphibian health. Download the LafeberVet Amphibian History Form available in PDF, DOCX and DOC formats.

Article  Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: European Hedgehog

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.

Client Education Handout 

Mud Turtle Client Handout

The mud turtle (Pelusios castaneus) is native to West Africa and its natural habitat consists of aquatic habitat surrounded by dense forest floors or submerged savannah. Shared by Dr. La’Toya Latney of PennVet, this educational handout will help your client understand how to care for and maintain this aquatic turtle species in captivity. Recommendations for indoor and outdoor housing as well as nutrition are described as well as common problems seen pet turtles.

Client Education Handout 

Leopard Tortoise Client Handout

The leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) is found throughout the southern edge of the Sahara and in Southern Africa from the Sudan to Ethiopia. Leopard tortoises inhabit hot arid desert, scrublands, and savannah. Shared by Dr. La’Toya Latney of PennVet, this educational handout will help your client understand how to care for and maintain this tortoise in captivity. Recommendations for indoor and outdoor housing as well as nutrition and breeding are described as well as common clinical problems.

Client Education Handout 

Chinese Box Turtle Client Handout

The charming Chinese box turtle (Cuora flavomarginata) is native to the rice patty and pond environments of Taiwan and southern China. Shared by Dr. La’Toya Latney of PennVet, this educational handout will help your client understand how to care for and maintain this semi-aquatic turtle in captivity. Recommendations for indoor and outdoor housing as well as nutrition and breeding are described as well as common clinical problems.

Client Education Handout 

Sulcata or African Spurred Tortoise Client Handout

Sulcata or African spurred tortoises (Geochelone sulcata) are “gentle giants” found throughout the southern edge of the Sahara in Africa. Sulcata tortoises inhabit hot arid desert, scrubland, and savannah. Shared by Dr. La’Toya Latney of PennVet, this educational handout will help your client understand how to care for and maintain this popular tortoise in captivity. Recommendations for housing as well as nutrition, breeding, and common clinical problems are described.

Article  Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Mediterranean Tortoises

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.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Egyptian Tortoise

The Egyptian tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni) is also know as Kleinmann’s tortoise or Leith’s tortoise. The native habitat of the Egyptian tortoise consists of desert and semi-desert scrub, although this species is also found in salt marsh margins, sandy gravel plains, as well as the rocky escarpments of the “wadis”, a stream bed that is usually dry except during the rainy season.

Use our Egyptian tortoise Information Sheet to review taxonomy, conservation status and physical description as well as diet and housing needs of this chelonian species. Login to view information sheet references.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Greek or Spur-Thighed Tortoise

The Greek or spur-thighed tortoise (T. graeca complex) is a small to medium-sized tortoise. Subspecies are found from northern Africa through central Asia. Use our Greek tortoise Information Sheet to review taxonomy, conservation status, physical description, diet and housing needs, as well as important medical conditions of this chelonian species. Login to view information sheet references.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Hermann’s Tortoise

The natural habitat of Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) includes evergreen and oak forests with arid, rocky hill slopes and scrubby vegetation, as well as herbaceous scrub and grassy hillsides.

Use our Hermann’s tortoise Information Sheet to review natural history, taxonomy, conservation status, physical description, diet and housing needs, as well as important medical conditions of this chelonian species. Login to view information sheet references.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Marginated Tortoise

The marginated tortoise (Testudo marginata) is found in Greece and Sardinia, as well as Italy, southern Albania and the Balkan Islands. This species was also introduced into Turkey. Its natural habitat consists of dry scrub, woodland, and hillside.

Use our marginated tortoise Information Sheet to review taxonomy, conservation status, physical description as well as diet and housing needs of this chelonian species. Login to view information sheet references.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Russian Tortoise

The Egyptian tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni) is also know as Kleinmann’s tortoise or Leith’s tortoise. The native habitat of the Egyptian tortoise consists of desert and semi-desert scrub, although this species is also found in salt marsh margins, sandy gravel plains, as well as the rocky escarpments of the “wadis”, a stream bed that is usually dry except during the rainy season.

Use our Egyptian tortoise Information Sheet to review taxonomy, conservation status and physical description as well as diet and housing needs of this chelonian species. Login to view information sheet references.

Article  Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: Fennec Fox

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.

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 

Body Condition Scoring in Birds

Body condition scoring or BCS is a useful tool for assessment of a patient’s general health status and evaluation of a patient’s food supply. The BCS system described below is based on scores between 1 and 5, with 1 being emaciated and 5 being obese for the “generic” bird. Currently there is no universally agreed upon BCS system for the avian patient due to…

Article 

Avicultural Medicine: Visiting the Facility

The site visit allows the veterinarian to appreciate intricate facility details. Unless there is an emergency, schedule visits during the non-breeding season and only visit one site daily to prevent potential iatrogenic contamination of facilities. I usually schedule appointments in the morning prior to going to the clinic. An aviary map or blue print of the aviary layout will help you visualize where birds are in relation to each other.

Article 

Avicultural Medicine: Quarantine Protocols

Quarantine is a basic component of good preventive medicine. The purpose of quarantine is to protect both the existing collection and the new arrival. New birds are usually stressed and may be more susceptible to infectious diseases. The quarantine period also allows the new bird(s) to acclimate to its new environment, food, and owner. Proper client education is paramount to minimize and/or eliminate the risk of infectious disease outbreaks.

Article 

Calcium in the Avian Patient

The most widespread mineral in the body, calcium is required for normal metabolism and bone mineralization.

Physiology

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.

Article 

Expert Panel on Companion Bird Nutrition

In 1998, an expert committee met to discuss the nutritional needs of companion birds. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and develop nutrient profiles for companion birds, focusing on profiles for formulated feed.

The expert panel developed maintenance guidelines for two broad groups of birds: psittacines and passerines (regardless of size or genus). These conservative, generalized guidelines are extrapolated from the National Research Council requirements for poultry and…

Article 

Avian Chlamydiosis

Psittacosis or ornithosis is caused by Chlamydophila psittaci, an obligate intracellular bacterial infection of birds. Chlamydophila psittaci may be excreted in feces and oculonasal discharge. Chlamydophila is environmentally labile but remains infectious for months in organic debris. Latently infected birds appear healthy but shed the organism intermittently for months to years. Stressors such as breeding, shipping, crowding, or climatic extremes may activate shedding.

Article 

Physical Examination of the Chick

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.

Article 

Psittacine Behavior, Handling and Restraint

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.

Article 

Microchip Placement For Identification of Birds

Microchip implantation provides permanent and unique identification. This article describes the equipment needed and the technique involved for this procedure. During microchip implantation, the avian patient may be awake and manually restrained or placed under general anesthesia. The battery-free transponder or microchip is placed superficially into the pectoral muscle mass. Potential complications are rare but can include evidence of pain in the bird, hemorrhage, infection, or accidental subcutaneous placement of the chip.

Article 

Assessing the Sick Chelonian

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…

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 

Nutritional Management of Obesity in Birds

Unfortunately the sedentary lifestyle of the companion bird makes obesity one of the most common forms of malnutrition seen in clinical practice. Pet birds are fed too much food or they are fed diets rich in sources of fat, such as sunflower seeds .

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 

Assessing the Sick Ferret

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.

Article 

Assessing the Sick Snake

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…

Form-Questionnaire 

Rabbit Dental Chart

Download LafeberVet’s Rabbit Dental Chart for use during clinical procedures ranging from standard dental examination to major orofacial surgery.

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 

Evaluation of Bird Droppings

Normal bird droppings consist of three components: feces, urine, and urates. Urine and urates are the products of the avian kidney. The medullary or mammalian nephron of the bird kidney produces urine. The more numerous cortical or reptilian nephron produces a soluble form of uric acid or…

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  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Vaccine Reaction in Ferrets

Pet ferrets are routinely vaccinated against canine distemper virus and rabies virus. Anecdotally, hypersensitivity reactions to vaccines are common in the ferret, and can potentially be fatal.

Article 

Normal Body Weights in Birds

“Normal Body Weights in Birds” is a collection of normal reported weights in common companion birds and birds of prey presented in table format. Keep in mind that reported normal body weights for a given species can vary significantly…

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: European Rabbit

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…

Article 

Ten Tips for Evaluating Chicks in the Exam Room

When approaching a baby bird for physical examination, keep the following facts in mind:

First, this may be your patient’s first veterinary visit. Set the stage for a positive veterinary relationship. Puppies and kittens are obviously juveniles, but a fully-fledged baby bird can look a lot like the adult bird to the uninitiated. Nevertheless this fully feathered creature is a baby and should be approached as such. Strive to create a benevolent, protective atmosphere, and never…

Article  Quiz 

Dystocia in Guinea Pigs

Most dystocias in guinea pigs are associated with some kind of physical problem. Some factors may be attributed to the pup, while others lie squarely with the sow. The most important maternal reason for dystocia is when the sow is…

Article 

Avian Polyomavirus Primer

Signs of avian polyomavirus type 1 in the budgerigar parakeet can be quite variable. Feather dystrophy or abnormal feather growth can lead to deformed flight feathers. Affected birds are unable to fly and are called “runners” or “creepers”. “French molt” is a term sometimes used for this slow, debilitating disease in parakeets characterized by progressive development of abnormal feathers. Bleeding is another hallmark of clinical avian polyomavirus infection…

Article 

Grooming Companion Birds: A Review

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?

Article 

Physical Examination of the Avian Patient

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…

Client Education Handout 

Senior Rabbit, Care of the

With proper care, pet rabbits can live long, happy lives. In this client education handout, we explore the aging changes that can be expected in the senior house rabbit including common health problems. Veterinary screening as well as home care of the geriatric rabbit are also explored.

Article 

Pet Food Labels: Unraveling the Fine Print

After reading label panels, owners often bring questions and concerns to veterinary staff. The pet food label is the primary means by which product information is communicated from the manufacturer or distributor to pet owners, veterinary health care team members, and regulatory officials. Reading and interpreting pet food labels is one method that healthcare team members and pet owners can obtain information about pet foods. However, it is important to remember that pet food labels do not necessarily provide information about…

Article 

Body Condition Scoring the Rabbit

Depending on breed and gender, body weight can vary widely among adult rabbits. Small breeds like the Netherland dwarf can weigh as little as 1 kg while large to giant breeds can exceed 5 to 7 kg. Many pet rabbits are mixed breeds that fall somewhere in the middle weighing between 2 to 5 kg. Body condition scoring is a technique used to assess body condition in many species. Although no official scoring system exists for rabbits, evaluation of rabbit body condition can be adapted from methods used in cats, dogs, and large animals.

Information sheet 

Basic Information Sheet: White’s Tree Frog

The White’s tree frog is indigenous to Australia and Indonesia. Also known as the Dumpy tree frog or the Australian Giant Green tree frog. This species is captive bred in large numbers. Wild-caught frogs from Indonesia are also still in the pet trade…