A veterinarian who specializes in the care of exotic animals is an exotic animal veterinarian. They are specially trained in caring for exotic pets including reptiles, amphibians, birds, and other uncommon pets.
Do vets treat exotic pets?
Exotic pets such as lizards, snakes, parrots, and tortoises are not as common as other domestic animals, so finding an experienced vet can be difficult. The reason for this is simply that veterinarians do not have many opportunities to gain experience working with exotic species.
Most veterinarians will offer to treat exotic pets but will consult with a specialist exotic breeder or animal handler for guidance on treatment.
For basic care such as check-ups or minor injuries, some vets may accept treating species like tortoises and budgies, as these animals have become much more common as pets in the US over the last 10 years.
How much does an exotic vet cost?
For routine check-ups, including consultation fee and parasite preventative treatment, you should expect to pay at least $150. Remember, this is an estimate and will depend on the species you own as well as any other treatments your pet is receiving during the appointment and the consultant fee of an expert if your veterinarian does not possess the required experience.
The cost of veterinary care for exotic animals is higher than the cost for cats and dogs. There are several reasons for this:
- Cost of medication suitable for exotic species
- Availability of medication
- Availability of qualified veterinarian
- Cost of travel
- Cost of surgery
Many illnesses for exotic pets are easily treated with good husbandry so it is important that you do as much research as possible. Simple ailments are often the result of a poorly managed diet or incorrect temperature and humidity within the animal’s enclosure.
How do I find an exotic vet?
The best place to start is local veterinary clinics. If they cannot treat your exotic pet in-clinic, they should be able to provide a referral or contact information for an experienced exotic animal vet.
Be mindful that this will likely involve some travel on your part, especially if your pet requires urgent specialist treatment that your local veterinarian is unable to provide.
In most cases, your local vet will work together with a specialist over the phone or via video calls to assess your pet, discuss any test results and decide on the best course of treatment.
Where poisonous or venomous animals are concerned, most local vet clinics will not accept the case. This is because it is unlikely they stock antivenom, so there is too much risk involved with the treatment of your pet.
In this instance, you would need to contact a specialist of your pet. For example, if you have a venomous snake, you will need to seek advice from a qualified venomous snake expert or breeder. The same applies if you have poisonous animals such as tarantulas or frogs.
Depending on the species you have, your best option may be your nearest zoo or animal park, as they will have a resident or contracted veterinarian to treat their exotic species.