Challenger School

So You Have An Exotic New Addition to the Family…


Holidays like Christmas and Easter are filled with interesting gifts. Sometimes an addition to the family. Did you end up with an exotic pet or are you considering one for the Spring ahead?

Most exotic pet species have very specialized requirements for their care, feeding, housing, and even enrichment. Sometimes these specific requirements can be quite overwhelming. Here are some tips to help keep your exotic pet happy and healthy.

Is our pet exotic?

First of all, what kind of pets are considered exotic? Birds, rabbits, rodents (and other small mammals), reptiles and fish, amphibians, arachnids, pot-bellied pigs, exotic cats, and wildlife are all considered exotic pets.

Don’t wait to schedule an exam

Call to schedule a wellness exam with a veterinarian specializing in exotic pets soon after getting your pet. Doing so before your animal starts showing any signs of illness will be your best chance at preventing any future problems and can be a real money saver in the long run.

Most exotic pets are high-stress prey species, so they are very good at hiding an illness right up to the point where it becomes life threatening. Sometimes, once they are showing obvious signs, it is already too late.

Proper care for your pet

At your pet’s first exam the veterinarian will go over all the husbandry (care and feeding) requirements specific to your pet and inform you of the most common problems associated with the species of animal you have purchased. You will be given tips and advice for recognizing the signs of illness.

Is an exotic pet in your plans?

If you did not get an exotic pet for Christmas, but are looking into adopting or purchasing one in the near future, consider calling a veterinarian specializing in exotic pets. They can offer rough estimates on the set-up costs and basic care required for the type of animal you are considering, and can even give you advice on what not to get as a first time exotic pet owner. Some pets are higher maintenance and more costly than others.


Check out these websites for more information on exotic pets: for turtles and tortoises for assorted reptiles
• websites of the AEMV (Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians), ARAV (Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians), AAV (Association of Avian Veterinarians), or AAZV (American Association of Zoo Veterinarians)

About author

Lindsey Woods, DVM

Lindsey Woods, DVM

Dr. Lindsey Woods is a 2012 graduate of Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences. Since graduation, she has completed two post-graduate specialty internships in avian, exotic pet, wildlife, and zoological medicine. Her first internship was at The Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic of Indianapolis under Dr. Angela Lennox, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, Dipl. ECZM. Her second and most recent internship was completed back at OSU CVHS in Avian, Exotics and Zoological Medicine. Dr. Woods recently moved to Utah and started her Veterinary Associate position with Dr. Laurel Harris at Wasatch Exotic Pet Care.

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