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Exotic animal practice tips (Proceedings)


Do not aggressively palpate females with distended coeloms or over-restrain for procedures (preovulatory stasis, egg bound, egg yolk peritonitis).

Practice Tips for Reptiles

      -Place on substrates that are not easily ingested – no calcium containing sand

      -Feed appropriately sized food and prey items

      -In iguanas & some of the other lizards recommend spaying/neutering prior to sexual maturity

      -Discuss long term problems of keeping reproductively intact

      -Do not aggressively palpate females with distended coeloms or over-restrain for procedures (preovulatory stasis, egg bound, egg yolk peritonitis)

      -Kidney disease prevalent in adult iguanas probably due to chronic dehydration and high protein diets when they were young

      -Encourage feeding of dead prey – fresh killed/frozen

      -Live prey should be removed if not eaten within five minutes

      -Tail amputation done manually at natural breaking planes

      -Do not suture

      -Snakes that are preshed will have a rosey "glow" to the ventrum which is different than the petecchial hemorrhages that are seen with snakes with septicemia

      -Warn clients of possible long erm complications and dysfunction from early severe NSHP

      -Ivermectin – not in turtles, tortoises and indigo snakes; w/caution in skinks; not w/in 10 days of ketamine use

      -Standing lateral view allows for better visualization of air space, better definition of ileus and more information in lizards

      -Careful what you say!

           "Keep warm during transport"

           "Swim once per day"

           "Increase the temperature of the cage"

           "Give this once per day"

      -Specific swimming recommendations

      -Specific recommendations on heat changes


      -Thermal burns are common as heat receptors are not the same as pain receptors and will seek heat especially if ill

      -No ICe fluids w/space occupying lesion

      -Annual PE, biannual fecal exams

      -Specific swimming recommendations

      -Not all "Reptile Lights" are the same

      -Define "gut loading" insect prey items

      -Discuss Salmonella risks w/all clients

      -Brochure on Salmonella and Reptiles available through ARAV

      -ANY disease process or procedure that is considered painful in other species should be considered painful in reptiles!

Practice Tips for Small Mammals

      -It is safer to place a rabbit backwards into a cage to prevent injury from kicking as you place it in.

      -Keep head elevated and neck uncrimped when rabbits and guinea pigs are anesthetized

      -Do not tie legs, gently tape them out of your field

      -Non-herbivorous small mammals should have only limited fasting - four hours or less - prior to surgery

      -Never fast rabbits and guinea pigs for surgery

      -Check for subgingival spurs of the 1st upper PM in chinchillas that is interested in food but not eating

      -Guinea pigs will readily walk off the edge of the table so should always be carefully monitored.

      -Kidney changes such as cysts and hydronephrosis can be seen in ferrets that were fed melamine contaminated cat food

      -Obesity is an increasing problem in exotics and clients should be counseled early about nutrition and exercise

      -Always provide a towel for traction on the exam table.

      -Provide food items after oral exam

      -Hedgehogs, hamsters and other small mammals - can be difficult to examine their ventrum awake: place in clear plastic container to see ventrum

      -Dental procedures in small mammals should not be performed without proper speculums

      -Never pull tongue outside of mouth

      -Don't forget that other small mammals need dental care too: ferrets, coatamundi, pot bellied pigs, etc,

      -Never lift rabbits and guinea pigs up by the scruff or pick rabbits up by the ears. .

      -Keeping patients warm during surgery is important but it is easy to overheat small mammals that are not carefully monitored.

      -Rabbits and ferrets should never be declawed.

      -Alopecia of the lateral abdomen or flanks can indicate pain, can be d/t hormonal changes.

      -The risk of anesthesia is much less than the risk of reproductive problems in rabbits

      -Consider the same for guinea pigs and rats

      -Examine the penis of male guinea pigs to check for hair and sebaceous secretions that may build up

      -Never shave the bottom of the hind feet of rabbits.

      -Perivascular necrosis can occur with extravasation of injectable drugs in the marginal ear vein of rabbits.

Practice Tips for Exotics

      -Create a hospitalization ward for exotics away from other pets and rooms with ability to change temp and humidity for reptiles and birds

      -Keep fish wet with the water they arrived in and place them often back into the water between procedures, wear exam gloves and wet them as well

      -Venipuncture in fish can be done with fish anesth. or awake and taken from just ventral to the lateral line on the tail

      -Instruct clients to bring in 2 large pails of tank or pond water that the fish is used to in order to facilitate anesthesia

      -Analgesics should be provided immediately if pain is detected, before diagnostic procedures and treatment are persued.

      -Analgesics, Analgesics,


      -Analgesics, Analgesics!!

      -Analgesics, Analgesics, Analgesics!!

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