It’s easy to get tempted by all those cute little reptiles that are running around looking cute and innocent, but before you decide to add one to your family, it is important to find the right reptile vet for you. While many people think of a reptile as being like an iguana, a reptile vet is actually much different. Like any animal doctor, a reptile vet will diagnose and treat various conditions and diseases of the reptile. Unlike an animal doctor, though, a reptile vet is not licensed to perform surgery on animals. Instead, they have a doctorate in reptile biology which grants them the knowledge and expertise necessary to properly diagnose and treat conditions affecting reptiles.
One of the most important considerations when choosing a reptile vet is his education. Since reptiles come from an exotic, non-natural environment, a reptile vet must possess specialized training in the care of reptiles. The degree of education a reptile vet has will vary depending on where he practices. Many veterinarians hold an advanced degree in biology or another similar field, while others simply have a master’s degree in this very special subject. Even those doctors with a higher education in reptile biology can sometimes choose to specialize, and take on a more specialized role in treating reptiles.
Because reptiles have evolved over thousands of years without having contact with modern society, they are extremely sensitive to changes in their environment, both mentally and physically. For this reason, a reptile vet may opt to do several things, such as collecting urine or saliva samples, or studying live tadpoles under a microscope. A qualified, nontraditional vet can also perform specialized diagnostics, such as determining whether or not a patient is suffering from arthritis, or analyzing a patient’s heart rate or temperature.
Reptiles can also be quite large, and therefore dangerous to handle. For this reason, some exotic pets may need to be safely housed in their own individual habitat or cage. Even if an owner has the space available for such a large pet, many owners are often uncomfortable housing an exotic animal alone. In this case, an experienced reptile vet would be the best candidate to determine the right enclosure and placement for his or her patient.
Many people assume that all herp vets are experts in snake and reptile treatments. This may not necessarily be true. While it is true that many herp vets hold general veterinary training, it is also true that there are some who only treat snakes. Some of these clinics may offer nothing more than a basic certification, and aren’t certified by any state-approved veterinarian association. Because there are many different kinds of reptiles, it is also not unusual for herp vets to specialize in one particular kind. So if you are interested in learning more about a specific kind of snake or reptile, you should make sure to look into the training of the clinic’s herp vet.
Another important characteristic of a good reptile vet is commitment to duty. There will undoubtedly come a time when you will need to bring your pet back to the office, whether due to a snake bite or some other emergency. A good vet will understand how he or she can best help you with this situation. Some may even suggest having the patient monitored if the situation calls for it. And if the husbandry is substandard, there is a chance that the pet may not survive the trip back to the vet.
A solid education, both in class and out, is a must. A good reptile vet will definitely possess the knowledge required to provide expert care for your exotic pet. This knowledge includes knowledge about the care of reptiles during the entire year, from their birth, to their migration, to their death. Proper care includes a great deal more than just feeding them once every few days; a well-informed vet will be able to help the owner understand when it is best to isolate a reptile from other animals and can help with the diagnosis of a sick reptile.
Reptiles are a delicate subject and many times, the mere mention of the word “exotic” can cause people to become very defensive of their own species. Any discussion of care of these animals should be approached with extreme delicacy. Remember, you are dealing with life-size creatures who can feel pain at the drop of a hat and who can also (in some situations) attack members of their own species. The good news is that if you choose the right reptile veterinary specialist, you can rest assured that your exotic pet is in good hands.