Veterinary Topics

Birds, Pocket Pets, and Exotics

Owning an exotic pet requires a strong commitment to their lifestyle, housing, diet, and other environmental needs that frequently are forgotten in the desire to own a new and interesting pet.

two birds sitting on a branch of tree

Birds, Pocket Pets, and Exotic Pet Care

By spending the extra time researching and understanding the particular needs of the exotic pet you wish to add to your family, you and your pet will benefit in the long run. Many exotic pets are purchased or acquired before their needs and the cost of their care are truly realized. It is heartbreaking when many are stricken with illness or death because of inappropriate diet, lighting, or housing.

House Rabbits

House rabbits make happy and whimsical pets full of entertainment and joy for the whole family. You will be rewarded by giving them the environmental enrichment and dietary choices they require for a full and healthy life. These guys are fun, inquisitive, and interactive. Who doesn’t like the look of a bunny twitching its nose, flicking its ears, and hopping around the house?

That being said, having a house rabbit as a family pet requires dedication to their special needs. The right diet is tantamount to ensuring they will be there with you as long as possible. The wrong diet choices will surely shorten their lifespan.

Rabbits should be supplied with lots of food with high fiber content. When they “fill up” on hay and greens, many of them lose interest in chewing up paper and furniture. They should be allowed to exercise outdoors regularly to maintain a healthy weight and keep all their systems in good working order. The rabbit in this picture has been fitted with a harness and is ready for a walk!

A house rabbit’s diet should only consist of grass hay supplemented by mixed leafy greens and, in TINY quantities, other vegetables and fruit. There are many other medical concerns relating to rabbits that require help from your veterinarian. Spaying and neutering are essential in controlling unwanted reproduction and health concerns. Please visit for more detailed information regarding the care of your new family member. Before coming in for your appointment with one of our doctors, please fill out the rabbit questionnaire on our website to help us better serve you and maintain your rabbit’s good health.

a rabbit sitting on the wooden floor
a rabbit eating from the hand of a person
Curious ferret looking at the camera on a woman's shoulder


If you have welcomed a ferret into your life, you are in for a lively and entertaining friendship. All at once, they can be comical AND predatory, yet sweet and peaceful. They have often been compared to having both dog and cat traits rolled up in one, which makes them very fun pets to have. But be prepared to pay careful attention to their special needs.

Ferrets are carnivores who require a high protein/low fiber diet and free access to fresh water. They need plenty of exercises that are supervised so they don’t get into trouble…remember that anywhere their head can go, the body will follow. Commonly, they are afflicted with conditions that include adrenal disease, insulinoma, lymphoma, skin conditions, dental disease, and foreign body ingestion.

Ferrets purchased from a pet store will be spayed/neutered and have their scent glands removed, but they will require vaccine boosters and vaccination against rabies on an annual basis.

Ferrets are commonly afflicted with some very serious diseases that can result in hair loss, itchy skin, weakness, weight loss, diarrhea, and vomiting. They should be seen by a veterinarian right away.

Young ferrets commonly ingest foreign bodies, as well. Ferrets should be vaccinated to prevent infectious diseases, and our veterinarians can help you determine if your ferret should be vaccinated.

Reptiles and Amphibians

Depending upon which reptile or amphibian you have chosen to join your family, the level of care each requires may vary dramatically. A snake that feeds on rodents will have different needs from a lizard that likes insects.

Common reptiles chosen for pets include Bearded Dragons, Green Iguanas, Red-Eared Sliders, Box Turtles, Corn Snakes, and Boas, but there are many other choices, all with their unique and individual requirements, as well as unique personalities.

Things to ask yourself might include:

  • “How much time will I have or want to spend with my pet?”
  • “Will I be able to supply my new pet with the diet they require?”
  • “Does anyone in my family have a medical or emotional reason not to want this pet?”

Remember to visit reputable websites for detailed information before purchasing your reptile or amphibian (like…or better yet, look into adopting or rescuing a pet who has been relinquished.

A pogona lizard sitting on a wooden surface