Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Beginning life with an exotic pet, by Dr. Michelle Bellville

Did you know that guinea pigs get scurvy? How about the fact that pet lizards can lose so much calcium in their bones that they bend? Did you know that birds can get arteriosclerosis, heart disease, and hypertension like humans? A little rabbit may be a sweet Easter present for your son or daughter, but do you know what it needs to eat to decrease chances of illness, obesity, and dental abscesses?

Each one of these creatures deserves to have a long, healthy life like our typical dog and cat companions, yet many are passing away young or silently living a suboptimal life. I remember having hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits as a child and I realize now how much I truly didn’t know. These animals I kept really deserved better of me. No one ever told me I needed to be educated in how to keep these animals, so I never looked.

Petrie, a fat tailed gecko and
my first exotic pet.
At 13 years old, my mom allowed me to get a fat tailed gecko I named Petrie. I did my research – found out how to keep her the best I could, and spent the next 13 years with her. One of the exotics veterinarians at University of Florida commented that she was one of the oldest fat tails they had ever seen!

Before you buy a pocket pet, reptile, or bird, do your research: buy a book on care of that animal or go to one of the recommended websites below so that you can be an educated future owner! If you are already sharing your life and home with one of these amazing creatures, make sure they get their yearly check-up by an exotics- trained veterinarian – they can help you take a critical look at the husbandry (home environment, food, daily routine, etc) of your pet to see if or where changes should be made!

  • For rabbits: www.rabbit.org has great resources
  • For reptiles: check out the Advanced Vivarium Series (AVS) books – individual species guides
  • For general bird care: Birds for Dummies or The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bird Care & Training.
Blog by:
Dr. Michelle Bellville
Click Here for Dr. Michelle's Bio/Contact Information

Dr. Bellville assists families in the Orlando Florida area with In Home Hospice and Euthanasia. She is also available to assist families with 'exotic' species like birds, hamsters, rabbits, etc with all end of like care. 

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