Take-home message

Take-home message


Husbandry and feeding account for around 80% of the problems encountered in exotic species.


About housing:

  • Differentiate preys and predators. Think about that concerning the order of care, the species that the same owner can own safely.
  • Remember advantages and disadvantages of indoor/outdoor housing
  • Know how to advise owner about housing in a cage, an enclosure or a room dedicated to the exotic pet.
  • Remember the term of proofing the environment (rabbit-proofing, ferret-proofing, bird-proofing)


About diet:

  • Don't forget the specific diet of every species (carnivores/herbivores/omnivores/insectivores).
  • Seed mixture is not a normal diet. It permits a choice, it is unbalanced because seeds contain a lot of sugar of fat. They lack essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals (especially calcium). Seeds are not available all year long in the wild. The assumed species that should eat seeds during a short period will eat other parts of the plants (branches, foliages, roots).
  • Do not overfeed your pets. Make him work for food (known as foraging): it will keep him busy (intellectual stimulation, physical exercise) and you will use the preferred food items (such as sunflower for example) for positive reinforcement.
  • Always give living insects one per one (or isolated in a plastic box, not in the terrarium). Living insects should be gut loaded and dust loaded.
  • When possible, whole prey diet should be given dead at ambient temperature (respect strictly defrosting process in a fridge).


About medical care:

  • Neutering is mandatory in females rabbit and ferret.
  • Vaccines are available for ferrets (distemper disease) and rabbits (myxomatosis and viral hemorrhagic disease)
  • Teeth trimming is not a normal procedure: if a patient needs it, it means that he has dental disease. The treatment requires general anesthesia and has to be done by a vet.
  • Wing trimming can be useful but it should be restricted to specific conditions.
  • It is difficult for a lot of species to differentiate males and females before sexual maturity is reached. In small mammals, anogenital distance is the more reliable (longer in males). In birds, except for rare species, it is better to realize DNA analysis in a qualified laboratory. For chelonians and lizards, sexing is usually easy with a strong sexual dimorphism. In snakes, cloacal probing is the most common method.