emacc

Cornell c/o 2021
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So this may be the wrong place to ask this but I'm really interested in pursuing certification/practice in small/exotic pets like hedgehogs, ferrets, parrots, chinchillas etc. Most of the information I can find seems to pertain to avian specific (which is also interesting to me) or zoo medicine.

Are there any particular schools that have a higher than average exposure to these species in their curriculum or that offer internships or residencies specializing in them?

Part of the reason I'm asking is I've had a lot of these types of exotic pets in my life, most recently an 8yr old ferret who we lost in January to adrenal disease, and there don't seem to be many vets that are specifically qualified to work with them comfortably. Also I'd like to eventually breed hedgehogs with a focus on trying to reduce the incidence of their genetic health predispositions and generally improve and diversify the gene pool presently existing in the pet trade.
 

cowgirla

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OKState has an Avian/exotics/zoo ward and offers a few different electives. There's also an internship program. I know they see some pretty funky creatures, and we have a couple zoos within an hours drive that bring patients here.

That's about all I know though. Not my area of expertise. No idea on caseload or anything like that.
 
Oct 6, 2012
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Hi emacc!

I can help you out here. I am going into vet med this upcoming fall with an interest in exotic pets...I too, have a special place in my heart for critters (my pet rats and gecko particularly, but I have love for the birds too!). I am OOS everywhere because I come from New Jersey (womp womp), so my vet school decision will be heavily based on the exposure to exotic pets.

I recently attended Cornell's accepted students info session, and they have a whole track that integrates exotic pet medicine. The track is called: small animal/exotic pets. I believe the Companion Animal Hospital sees about 1500 exotic pets a year (one professor relayed this number to me, so I'm not 100% sure its correct). Overall, I was impressed by their opportunities in the area of exotic pets. The only other schools I have thoroughly examined so far are Tufts and UMinnesota. (Although I have applied to 4 other schools, I just haven't been interviewed or accepted so I haven't scrutinized them yet). So I do not have information on ALL the vet schools, particularly west coast and southeast ones, and some of those schools might also have great exotic pets programs.

I would be happy to post more information if you would like! You will learn a LOT by visiting schools, talking to current students, and digging through courses of studies for schools. I guess my short answer is yes, some schools have more exposure than others, because some areas of the country exotic pets are more prevalent.

I hope this is helpful! And best of luck in applying, now or if in years to come :D
 

orcagirl

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NCSU also has a small animal track with an exotic emphasis (both avian and mammal). In fact it's one of the reasons I chose this school (CSU just kept talking about the wildlife they treat). I want to work on small mammal exotics (rats, ferrets, hamsters, rabbits, etc). They have selectives (two week courses at the end of each semester) on ferrets and I think some on birds. I'm only a first year so I don't have all the information, but we do have a general practice exotic animal service. It's where my GPs go.
 
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emacc

emacc

Cornell c/o 2021
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Awesome! Thanks so much for the information guys. Auburn is my instate school so I'll be sure to ask them about electives and such when I go to the open house in April. And I'll be sending out a hefty volume of emails I think too.

I'm torn because I'm also interested in wildlife, and Auburn works with the Southeastern Raptor Center on occasion. I work with their sister center in Pelham and I love it so much, but I don't know if I'd want to rely on wildlife as a primary career since it's fairly unstable/underfunded most of the time.
 

bbeventer

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University of Illinois is huge in exotics. We have a great wildlife medical clinic that is student run and overseen by some of our awesome exotic/zoological faculty. First-third years volunteer in the clinic and work on teams to oversee cases. Its really a great experience, and you get tons of hands on work from the start of your education.

On top of the wildlife medical clinic, the school also has resident raptors. You can be on a team to handle these birds, do PR events with them, etc.

We also have rotations starting First year, there is a Zoo Med rotation and an Exotic pet management rotation if I am remembering correctly. First year these are randomly assigned but I believe second year you have more of a choice where you want to go. I heard great things about both of these rotations!

I can't speak much about exotic electives for second years (since I am still a first year) but I can tell you they are in no short supply either.

This is my IS, but if your interested in exotics, it sure seems that Illinois has a lot to offer.

If you have any questions you can send me a PM.
 

hopefulinva

VMRCVM DVM/MPH c/o 2016
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VMR's got a few exotic electives (there's specifically a ferret medicine class, and the Bird & Reptile class I'm in right now is pretty sweet), but probably your best hands-on experience is via the Public Veterinary Practice Club (PVPC) and the Companion Animal Club (CAC).

PVPC just held a wetlab a couple weeks ago working with birds of all sizes (seriously... everything from finches to turkey vultures) as well as ferrets.

We've also got a student-run Wildlife ward, overseen by students; you pick up the cases, you're in charge of the cases until the doctor's made his or her decision. It's pretty sweet. =)

Oxbow also pops in from time to time for lunch seminars about exotic animal nutrition and whatnot, so you don't miss out there.

And Path club does fun stuff like mouse necropsies. =)
 

jmo1012

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if you are interested mainly in pocket pets/small pet herps, make sure you ask schools specifically about that, as there are several that are very strong in "exotics" but have much more of their case load coming from zoo and wildlife animals. nothing wrong with that! but if you want the experience, ask to see what the numbers are :) for example, UF did their 4th year presentation to us last week and afterwards a student asked specifically what the pocket pet/pet herps load was - i.e. what was the breakdown of the thousands of exotic cases they see each year (it was a large impressive number, but they do a ton of zoo and wildlife work). she said she'd have to look for that number for the student. she also recommended lab animal medicine classes/rotations for the small animal experience.

for anyone who is interested, SGU has an avian, fish and exotic animal diseases course with a few labs that is part of the general curriculum taken in 2nd year. There are also elective courses offered in Jan. every year (that rotate) in birds, fish, small mammals, and reptile medicine. there is a wildlife conservation elective that is offered every other year and this term we have a two week marine mammal conservation elective. those interested in exotic animal medicine tend to pick 4th year schools that have a lot of exotic offerings such as UF, NCSU, and UGA (i think UTK and Auburn also rank in the top 5).
 

jmo1012

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VMR's got a few exotic electives (there's specifically a ferret medicine class, and the Bird & Reptile class I'm in right now is pretty sweet), but probably your best hands-on experience is via the Public Veterinary Practice Club (PVPC) and the Companion Animal Club (CAC).

PVPC just held a wetlab a couple weeks ago working with birds of all sizes (seriously... everything from finches to turkey vultures) as well as ferrets.

We've also got a student-run Wildlife ward, overseen by students; you pick up the cases, you're in charge of the cases until the doctor's made his or her decision. It's pretty sweet. =)

Oxbow also pops in from time to time for lunch seminars about exotic animal nutrition and whatnot, so you don't miss out there.

And Path club does fun stuff like mouse necropsies. =)
okay, I love VMRCM and VT, but the exotics exposure is measly at this school no matter what they tell you. a friend who graduated a year ago is a heavy exotics person and i know she was very disappointed/frustrated with the little amount available at the school. lucky for her, she has a ton of connections and was able to spend a substantial amount of her 4th year traveling to externships allowing her to get a lot of exotics experience.
 

orca2011

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Penn has an exotics ward too that you can rotate through several times I believe. We have Wildlife med electives you can take and a Special Species Club which has set up shadowing in our exotics ward. Ive gone a few times so far and have enjoyed my time there...although it can be hit or miss as to whether or not anything comes in. Supposedly weekends are the best time to shadow and if you go enough, you can possibly get hired as a tech for the weekends.

Through these I have learned how to bandage birds and do IO catheters on both birds and small mammals. They also did a combined wet lab with our Radiology club through which we looked at rads from exotic cases and then tried to figure out what was wrong, etc.

We also have a feeding program with Oxbow so you can get certain products cheaper.
We also help run the Aqua Vet program with Cornell, and I think they said like 6 spots are reserved for Penn students. It's pretty competitive though.

And while I don't go there, Tufts also is pretty into wildlife/exotics.
 

dyachei

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Utk is well known for its exotics program. We don't track there but we have relationships with the zoo, tiger haven (large cat rescue), Appalachian bear rescue, American eagle foundation, and multiple wildlife rehabbers. There are electives solely based on exotics available 2nd and 3rd year and the professors are great. We also share hosting an exotics symposium with Missouri. During 4th year there is a standard exotics rotation as well as a zoo elective.
 

Psorophoraferox

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LSU has an exotics track. And depending on your year (and your luck), you might get to help care for Mike the tiger! :) The teaching hospital sees small exotics, birds, and wildlife, and there is a raptor rehab program as well.

http://www.vetmed.lsu.edu/vth&c/BZEM.htm

BZEM students visit the BR zoo regularly to watch and participate in medical procedures.
 

Packen

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So this may be the wrong place to ask this but I'm really interested in pursuing certification/practice in small/exotic pets like hedgehogs, ferrets, parrots, chinchillas etc. Most of the information I can find seems to pertain to avian specific (which is also interesting to me) or zoo medicine.
Dick Vet has a small mammal "hospital". Technically it is part of the small animal hospital, but with separate doctors and nurses. They see small mammals plus reptiles and birds. You are required to do at least one rotation your final year through this ward.

Starting in year one, you also learn about these species (ferrets, guineas, rabbits, reptiles, birds) in most of your physio and all your husbandry classes. We don't tract, so all students are required to take these classes. We also have hands-on handling classes - it's funny seeing your 6ft tall guy friend freak out when they hand him a snake:laugh:
 

Nechochwen

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LSU has an exotics track. And depending on your year (and your luck), you might get to help care for Mike the tiger! :) The teaching hospital sees small exotics, birds, and wildlife, and there is a raptor rehab program as well.

http://www.vetmed.lsu.edu/vth&c/BZEM.htm

BZEM students visit the BR zoo regularly to watch and participate in medical procedures.
I agree, BZEM is one of the busiest rotations and you get a lot of exposure to the whole range of pocket pets (in addition to plenty of wildlife coming through). You do get your zoo exposure sporadically, but not to the extent as some schools (at least not as much as I'd like :))
 
Oct 6, 2012
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Pre-Veterinary
if you are interested mainly in pocket pets/small pet herps, make sure you ask schools specifically about that, as there are several that are very strong in "exotics" but have much more of their case load coming from zoo and wildlife animals. nothing wrong with that! but if you want the experience, ask to see what the numbers are :) for example, UF did their 4th year presentation to us last week and afterwards a student asked specifically what the pocket pet/pet herps load was - i.e. what was the breakdown of the thousands of exotic cases they see each year (it was a large impressive number, but they do a ton of zoo and wildlife work). she said she'd have to look for that number for the student. she also recommended lab animal medicine classes/rotations for the small animal experience.
JMO1012- Great advice about doing a lab animal rotation! That never occurred to me but is a great idea to get more small mammal experience. Thanks!
 

Trilt

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JMO1012- Great advice about doing a lab animal rotation! That never occurred to me but is a great idea to get more small mammal experience. Thanks!
That advice definitely works across multiple schools, too - I did our lab animal selective this fall and learned a ton of random clinical stuff on rats, guinea pig, rabbits. It's also just a super fascinating field.