How do I Choose the Best Exotic Pet Veterinarian?

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  • Written By: Elizabeth West
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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The owner of an exotic pet needs to find a doctor to provide regular care for the animal. A good exotic pet veterinarian will have additional training in specialist facilities during their schooling and will be board-certified. Calling exotic pet owners associations and recommendations from other pet owners are the best ways to find a good exotic pet veterinarian. The best time to check is before acquiring the animal.

Owners should consult reputable sources when searching for an exotic pet veterinarian. Most organizations devoted to unusual pets have websites, as do rescue organizations who can often recommend someone. Educated members of local pet clubs may know a good doctor. The local veterinary medical association may also be able to refer a specialist. Once a vet is located, credentials can be checked through the state licensing board.

The owner should schedule an initial visit to meet the exotic pet veterinarian and discuss the needs of the pet. This includes how often the doctor sees that type of animal and if the facilities are suitable for their handling. The owner should also check emergency coverage after hours and on holidays, and observe how the doctor and staff relate to both the owner and the pet.


Birds are the most common patients an exotic pet veterinarian will see. It can be difficult to tell what is wrong with a sick bird, and many small animal veterinarians will not know. An avian specialist is best suited to diagnose and treat a problem. Snakes, turtles, and other reptiles also need someone familiar with their specific health issues.

Rare pets such as large cats or monkeys may only be kept in certain jurisdictions with an approved permit. If an illegal pet is brought in for medical attention, the exotic pet veterinarian can refuse treatment and may be obligated to report it. In many areas, all veterinarians will need a permit to treat and retain injured wildlife brought to them, but may provide initial care without it. The animal is usually not allowed to go home with its finder unless that person has a wildlife rehabilitation license.

Before making an unusual pet part of the family, potential owners should check the laws in their area regarding whether it is legal to keep the animal. They should also consider if the amount of activity the pet needs and special requirements in caring for it are compatible with the family's lifestyle. An exotic pet veterinarian should be sought early to care for the new family member.


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