What exotic pet vets do and how to know if your practice is ready to see exotic patients

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The logo for Long Island Birds & Exotics Veterinary ClinicExotic pet veterinarian clinics, like Long Island Bird & Exotics Veterinary Clinic, can diagnose and treat a wide variety of animals. It’s a very rewarding population to treat, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for all businesses. 

Keep reading to learn more about the work of exotic pet vets, and how to determine whether your practice is ready to see exotic patients.

What is an exotic pet? 

Dr. Malka, an exotic pet vet, holding a birdExotic pets can denote everything from rabbits to lizards. It is generally defined as any animal that isn’t a dog, cat, or farm animal. This includes birds, small mammals, reptiles, and fish. 

What do exotic pet vets do?

In our practice, we diagnose and treat animals, help owners learn about the best ways to take care of their exotic pets, stay educated on the latest exotic pet research, and much, much more. 

How to determine if your practice is ready for exotic pets 

Adding exotic pets to your practice is a massive undertaking for the veterinarians, vet techs, and the rest of your staff. 

You’ll need a team that’s willing to learn an entirely new way of practicing veterinary medicine and willing to engage in regular continuing education to stay up to date on the latest practices. You should also be willing to invest in the equipment and resources necessary to treat exotic animals. 

Questions to ask before adding exotic pets to your veterinary practice 

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself to determine whether you’re ready to expand to include exotic pets: 

  1. What changes will I need to make to my existing office? (i.e. a separate waiting room) Am I willing to make the financial investment to do so?
  2. Is there a demand in my area for exotic pet care?
  3. Does my staff have the bandwidth to take on treating an entirely new animal population?
  4. Can I afford the education that will be necessary for my staff to treat exotic animals? 
  5. Which services should I include? Will I include boarding? Emergency medicine? 
  6. Which animals will I treat? Have I done my due diligence into the costs and effort associated with each type of exotic animal? 

Pros and cons of adding exotic pets to your business 

Here are some of the pros and cons to consider regarding the addition of exotic pets to your existing veterinary business: 

Pros of adding exotic pets to your business

  • You could expand your revenue, assuming there’s demand for exotic vets in your area and owners willing to pay for your services.
  • Clients who would come see you for exotic pet needs may also bring their non-exotic pets too. 
  • If you and your staff are looking for a new challenge, this is it. Since exotic animals often try hiding their illnesses and vulnerabilities from predators, it can sometimes be very difficult (and rewarding!) to treat them. 

Cons of adding exotic pets to your business

  • Treating exotic pets can be costly. 
  • You might have to rearrange your entire clinic. (i.e. many exotic animals are prey animals and being around cats or dogs will give them added stress.
  • Exotic pet appointments can take longer than other animal appointments. Be aware that you may not be able to fit as many appointments in as you would with non-exotic pets. 

 

You should carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of treating exotic patients before deciding if you should expand your practice to include them. It is an incredibly rewarding field. 

Best of luck if you decide to add this wonderful population of animals to your business.    

 


 

Dr. Shachar Malka, the author

 

Dr. Shachar Malka has more than 15 years of experience working with birds, exotic species, and wildlife. Dr. Malka completed four additional years of advanced training in this field after graduating from veterinary school. He completed an internship at the University of Guelph, Canada, and a three-year residency program at the University of California, Davis. He treats exotic animals from the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Queens, and Long Island. He can be reached at Shachar@birdexoticsvet.com