Choosing the right vet for your exotic pet can be daunting and a little harder than your average dog and cat vet, but it’s worth doing some research to make sure you pick the right practice for you and your exotic pet. An important note - It’s illegal for anyone in the UK who isn’t registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) to practice as a vet. You can check if your vet is registered on the RCVS website
registered with the RCVS website.
If you’re not already, it’s a nice idea to add yourself to a few groups on Facebook that are for exotic pet enthusiasts or owners; a lot of these will be specific species groups, one for snake owners, parrot owners etc. These are also often split into separate areas and counties in the UK. These groups are great to ask advice, get recommendations on certain topics like finding a good vet or to buy or sell vivariums, toys and feed too.
Here are our 5 top tips on what to look for when joining an exotic pet veterinary practice.
Make your search area local to you
Find a practice within a reasonable distance from where you live. In the event of an emergency you don’t want to be driving miles away. This of course is tricky if you live more rurally, most towns and some villages have at least one veterinary practice; whether these cater for exotic pets might not be automatically clear. When researching and looking around it’s good to give them a ring and find how many exotic pets they have treated to gauge how experienced they are with such animals. Some will also specialise in certain breeds and species, like a reptile veterinarian or a specialist bird vet. Vet's won't typically receive any extra training on exotic pets, they just cover bigger mammals and your every day pets; so if they have the training it means they have gone out of their way to do extra research in their own time and undergo extra qualifications to appropriately administer medicines and look after exotic pets. These vet's with the initiative to do this often have an interest in these animals too which is an added bonus.
Is the veterinary hospital set up to accommodate exotic pets?
If they have no equipment specifically designed for treating and examining small exotic animals such as tortoises or reptiles, it is likely they don’t treat exotic animals often. You can really tell whether a veterinary hospital is set up to treat exotic pets if they have some of the basic equipment and supplies needed to do so, such as a small scale that weighs in grams for weighing little exotic pets or a tank for safely enclosing a reptile.
Are the veterinary technicians comfortable handling exotic pets?
It takes years to learn how to properly handle exotic pets, especially reptiles as these are mostly species that become stressed when restrained by poor handling. Even if you find a vet that is well established at performing medical care on exotic pets, you still need the experience from the technicians on handling and appropriately restraining your exotic pet. This may only be apparent through attending a check up or first appointment, but it’s definitely worth looking out for.
Are the exotic pet vets part of any organisations?
Veterinarians who belong to groups normally display an organization’s logo on a decal in their practise’ window or printed on their client forms and booklets. You can also check on certain organisation’s website’s as to which practices are part of their association. If a vet has taken the time and money to join any of these organizations, then he or she at least has a strong interest in exotic pets. There are several professional exotic animal groups, such as the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians
, Association of Avian Veterinarians
, the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians
Is the veterinary practice of a good enough standard?
It’s always important to take a look inside the actual building of the vet’s practice, it should be clean and well maintained. If there is clutter, dirt or even a poor organisational structure, it could affect the well being of your pet in these conditions. The staff should feel welcoming and friendly to you and accommodate your pet as if it where a ‘normal pet’ like a cat or a dog. You want to feel safe and secure with these people trusting that they value your pet just as much as the next.