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Exotic Pet Care at Radford Animal Hospital

Caring for exotic and pocket pets such as guinea pigs, sugar gliders, fancy rats, hamsters and skinny pigs requires a veterinarian with special knowledge about these unique animals. Although cats and dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, exotic pets and pocket pets have only recently begun interacting closely with humans. Pocket/exotic pets will conceal any injury or illness because they instinctively know wounded animals in the wild are easy prey for predators. Consequently, exotic and pocket pets need regular wellness exams from vets near Radford to ensure their owners they remain as healthy as possible throughout all life stages.

hamster exotic pet care

Signs of Illness in Exotic Pets

Bring your pet to our Radford Animal Hospital for a full evaluation by one of our veterinarians If you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Watery or yellowish/greenish discharge from the eyes, nose or ears
  • Ongoing weight loss even though appetite needs haven't changed
  • Changes in the quantity and/or color of the animal's droppings
  • Lack of preening/fluffed feathers/droopy wings (birds)
  • Daytime wakefulness, frantic climbing, reduced urine/feces output and changes in nose color (for sugar gliders)
  • Difficulty breathing, puffed coat, drooling, watery diarrhea and limping (in guinea pigs and skinny pigs)

Caring For A Hamster

Hamsters are prone to a contagious disease called "wet tail" (regional enteritis/proliferative ileitis). Hamsters recently weaned from mother's milk commonly develop symptoms of wet tail, such as ruffled coat, appetite loss, lethargy, and diarrhea, which causes the characteristic wetness around their tails. Pocket pet veterinarians aren't sure what causes wet tail but suspect it may be attributed to dietary changes, cage crowding and/or stress. Treatment for wet tail includes giving the hamster antibiotics, anti-diarrhea medications, and fluids to prevent dehydration.

If you are new to owning hamsters, your vets near Radford want you to know that if you let the temperature in your hamster's room to fall below 60 degrees, your hamster (s) may start hibernating. Breathing slowly and remaining completely still are two indications hamsters may be in hibernation mode. Increasing the temperature should bring hamsters out of hibernation and back into their active lives. If warming your hamster doesn't revive him, he may be ill and need the attention of a pocket pet veterinarian.

Caring For Fancy Rats

Fancy rats are intelligent, sociable pocket pets that are easy to care for, fun to watch and quick to show affection for their owners. When fancy rats fall ill, they may be suffering from a highly contagious virus called the SDA virus. Signs of SDA virus infection include:

  • Constant sneezing
  • Eye and nose discharge
  • Swelling under their neck
  • Eye rubbing, blinking and squinting
  • Development of corneal ulcers

Fortunately, most cases of SDA resolve themselves within seven days to two weeks. Although no treatment is available for SDA, your veterinarian can provide supportive care and suggestions for making your fancy rat as comfortable as possible while he is ill.

Contact Our Veterinarian in Radford Today about Caring For Exotic Pets!

For more information about caring for exotic and pocket pets, contact Radford Animal Hospital today at (540) 639-3891. Although we do not treat reptiles or birds, we provide referrals for reptiles and birds requiring specialized care. We also perform wing and nail clipping procedures for birds.