Providing veterinary care to exotic pets is challenging and rewarding, offering the veterinary technician the chance to work with a wide variety of species. There is an inherent challenge for those working with these pets given the large variety of species presented for care.
Soft tissue surgery is commonly performed on small exotic mammals for preventative health, control of reproduction, and to manage conditions warranting surgical intervention. The principles of surgery for dogs and cats also apply to cases involving exotic pets.
Rabbits and rodents belong to the orders Lagomorpha and Rodentia respectively. Rodents are further divided into the suborders Myomorpha (rats, mice, gerbils, and hamsters), Caviomorpha (guinea pigs and chinchillas), and Sciuromopha (squirrels, chipmunks, and prairie dogs).
Psittacine breeding has developed to fill the large demand for pet parrots created by the ban on importation. Many breeding pairs of birds are maintained in aviaries specifically to produce chicks for sale as pets.
More and more people in today’s society are choosing to own exotic pets in addition to or in lieu of the traditional dogs and cats commonly seen in private veterinary practice. Their small size and housing, ease of care, and human-animal bond potential make them the ideal pets.
Emergency critical care and subsequent nursing care can mean the difference between life and death for a beloved pet. Critical care is an integral part of emergency management of disease in zoological species. A high mortality rate is inherent in exotic animal emergency medicine.
Respiratory disease in small exotic mammals is caused by a variety of etiologies but infectious causes predominate. Both upper and lower airway disease is seen and in rabbits and rodents, animals that are obligate nasal-breathers, upper respiratory disease can be as problematic as lower airway disease.