BeWild: Selecting a Vet
Selecting an Exotics Vet
Advice from BeWild Exotic Animal Education and Rescue expert
Nicole D’Avignon is Co-Director, BeWild Exotic Animal Education and Rescue and an Exotic Species Specialist on her way to vet school, BeWild is one of the rescues supported by the Zen Habitats Reptile Relief program.
Zen Habitats: Is there a resource to find a reputable exotics vet?
Nicole: Yes! Check out the “Find the Vet” feature on the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV) website. We also recommend searching for exotics specialist veterinarians in your area. Typically, an exotics specialist vet will only see exotic animal patients, not dogs or cats.
Zen Habitats: What questions should one ask an exotics vet?
Nicole: When seeing a new exotics vet, we would recommend asking about their experience with your particular species. Ask about their ability to do diagnostic tests in-house or if they refer tests out to other clinics.
Zen Habitats: Should your pet see one for regular checkups?
Nicole: We do recommend that beginner owners take their pets to the vet for yearly checkups. Exotic animals are very good at hiding illnesses and may not present symptoms until they are severely sick. While reptiles do not require any vaccines, a regular exam by an experienced exotics vet can prevent minor illnesses from progressing.
Exotic animal veterinarian examining a snake with nidovirus, a severe respiratory virus.
Zen Habitats: What if someone does not have easy or convenient access to an exotic vet?
Nicole: Unfortunately, exotics vets are not as common as dog and cat vets. They are more common than people think though! Most mid- to large cities will have an exotics vet nearby. However, those who live in the more rural areas may have to drive several hours to find a veterinarian. While some minor health issues may be able to be resolved at home, a veterinarian is necessary for prescription medications such as antibiotics, pain medication, and certain parasite medications. They are also necessary for surgeries. If your pet needs veterinary care and you cannot afford or access a veterinarian, we strongly recommend finding a reputable rescue so that your animal can get proper care.
Zen Habitats: Are there other resources for specialized care?
Nicole: Check out local rescues in your area but do your research on any organization! Rescues can be a great source of information, but they should definitely be vetted before you surrender or adopt an animal. A good rescue is transparent, honest, has good relationships with their veterinarians, and allows you to either visit the premises or view pictures of animal housing.
Zen Habitats: Do you have an exotics vets affiliated with the rescue?
Nicole: We have two exotics veterinarians on our Board of Directors, and one of them, Dr. Ashley Emanuele, is an aquatics specialist that sees all our amphibians. We have many vet student and pre-vet volunteers as well, so hopefully we will have more affiliate veterinarians in the future!