Exotics

CLICK ON A TOPIC BELOW TO LEARN MORE

Amphibian Care

General Nutrition:

Offer a variety of foods. Increase nutrition during winter via meal worms and wax worms.

Diet-Salamanders:

Terrestrial: aphids, fruit flies, caterpillars, earthworms, slugs.

Aquatic: freshwater shrimp, tubiflex worms, daphnia, earthworms, insect larvae.

Diet-Frogs and Toads:

Terrestrial: fruit flies, crickets, meal worms, wax worms.

Aquatic: insects, earthworms, crayfish, fish, meal worms, tubiflex worms or commercial diets.

  • Large toads may eat mice and rat pups.
  • Feed in the water.

Diet-Tadpoles:

  • Filamentous algae (grows in water left in sunlight). Boiled dark greens may be substituted.
  • Add vitamin C.
  • Feed frequently to minimize cannibalism.
  • Stop feeding when legs appear.

Housing:

Salamanders: Temperate (50-65o F); Tropical (65-70o F and high humidity).

Frogs: Temperate (65-80o F); Tropical (75-85o F).

  • Monitor air and water for temperature and air for humidity daily.
  • Avoid heat lamps (may lead to decreased humidity and dessication).
  • Aquarium heaters are suitable for water heating. Heating rocks are suitable for land.
  • Provide light on timer (14hrs/day with nonbreeding cycle).
  • Optimal water pH usually 6.5 to 8.5.
  • Change water frequently.
  • Always wear gloves and face protection to minimize zoonotic disease transmission.
  • Quarantine all new acquisitions.
  • Avoid mixing species together.
Bird Care

Illness in pet birds is a serious matter. Birds are poor patients. They are slow to show recognizable symptoms and often are not presented to veterinarians until they are quite ill. If illness of any type occurs in your pet bird, an accomplished veterinarian should be sought immediately. Never use any medications not prescribed by a veterinarian.

Nutrition/Feeding:

Grains: Seeds – no more than 50% of the diet; feed whole grain rice, oatmeal, whole grain bread, pasta, etc.

Vegetables: 20-40% of diet; dark green, red or yellow vegetables. Avoid celery and lettuce.

Fruits: 5-10% of the diet; use mainly as treats; large amounts may cause diarrhea. Avocados are TOXIC!

Protein: 10% of the diet; feed soybeans, kidney beans, lentils, peas, sprouts, tofu, dog chow and/ or monkey chow.

  • Always have fresh water available. Clean water and food dishes daily.
  • Replace fruit, vegetables etc. twice daily to prevent bacterial and fungal growth.
  • Vitamins formulated for birds should be used daily in water or food.
  • No gravel or grit, it may cause life threatening impactions.
  • A cuttlebone should be provided as a source of calcium and other minerals.

Housing/Environment:

  • Birds should never have run of the house without supervision.
  • Caging should be appropriate size with no sharp edges.
  • Change paper at least once daily, disinfect whole cage weekly.
  • Cage should be in a bright, cheery location with lots of activity surrounding it.
  • Temperature should be consistent with no direct drafts.
  • Avoid dust and smoke. Avoid fumes from teflon cookware, they are TOXIC to birds.
  • Place perches of various sizes in cage. NO SANDPAPER PERCH COVERS.
  • Toys should be durable, colorful, safe, and easy to clean.
  • Mite protectors are NOT necessary.
  • Mirrors are alright as toys, but may make training and taming your bird more difficult if the bird becomes attached to it’s reflection.
  • Shower your bird with warm fresh tap water from a plant atomizer twice weekly.
  • Clipping wings and nails should be done with care or by your veterinarian.
  • Birds tend to become more aloof and difficult to train and tame when they have avian company. If you do get a companion for your pet bird, the new introduction should be quarantined for 30 days prior to exposing your bird to the new bird.
Chinchilla Care

Diet:

  • Commercial diets fed ad lib (approximately 20% crude protein, 3% crude fat, 16% crude fiber, 10% ash and 2% minerals).
  • Timothy hay and alfalfa ad lib or up to 25% clover hay (free of contamination).
  • Small amounts of treats (eg. dried fruits, nuts, sunflower seeds, green vegetables, carrots).
  • Supplement pregnant, lactating or growing pets with calf supplement.
  • Water best supplied via water bottle.

Housing:

  • Minimum of 4′ x 4′ x 3′ cage; wired mesh; solid flooring.
  • Dust box within cage, 6″ x 6″ x 9″; offering dust baths 10-15 minutes daily or 4-5 x’s per week.
  • Wooden nest box for sleeping.
  • 50-60o F (greater than 80o F can be fatal!); humidity 40% or less.

*Average life span is 9-17 years.

Ferret Care

Diet:

  • Ferrets are carnivores; do not feed greater than 4% fiber.
  • Commercial ferret diets are appropriate. Cat food is a reasonable second choice.
  • Minimize dairy products, fruits and vegetables. Do not add salt to diet.
  • Provide fresh water at all times.

Housing:

  • Cage dimensions: Approximately 75 x 50 x 40 cm minimum.
  • Temperature: 65-75o F. Humidity: 45-55%. Lighting: 12-16 hr/day.
  • Cage dressing: Composite pellets, hardwood or pine shavings; avoid cedar.
  • Provide a blanket or towel for sleeping.

Vaccines:

  • Canine distemper at 8 and 12 weeks of age; booster annually. (See your veterinarian.)
  • Rabies at 12 weeks of age and annual booster. (See your veterinarian.)

*Average life span is 5-8 years.

Gerbil Care

Diet:

  • Commercial rodent pellets with 18-22% protein.
  • Do not use seed based mixes since gerbils will selectively eat only the seeds, leading to malnutrition.
  • Provide water at all times.

Housing:

  • Wire and plastic enclosures are adequate. Watch for moisture, urine and/or feces buildup.
  • Bedding: hardwood shavings, composite pellets or shredded paper. Avoid cedar, sand, corncob or cat litter as well as artificial fiber.
  • Provide cardboard roll or box for hiding; exercise wheel; natural wood for chewing.
  • Temperature: 60-70o F; humidity 30-50%; 12 hours of light/day.

*Average life span is 3-5 years.

Guinea Pig Care

Diet:

  • Commercial diet with 20% crude protein and 16% fiber.
  • Add vitamin C (50mg/cup) to drinking water and change water daily. Oranges and cabbage can also be provided.
  • Limit timothy hay, alfalfa, green vegetables and fruits to approximately a tablespoon/day.

Housing:

  • Wire mesh cage; minimal size of 24″ x 24″ x 12″ per adult.
  • Bedding: hardwood shavings; composite pellets; shredded paper. Change bedding daily.
  • Temperature: 55-70o F.

*Life span is 4 to 6 years.

Hamster Care

Diet:

  • Commercial rodent/hamster pellets.
  • Treats: salad sprouts; apples; walnuts; raisins at no more than 1/2 teaspoon per day.
  • Wood chew sticks to wear front teeth.
  • Provide water at all times.

Housing:

  • Wire mesh; 20″ x 20″ x 10″.
  • Provide exercise wheel and nest area for sleeping.
  • Bedding: hardwood shavings; composite pellets; shredded paper. Change daily.
  • Temperature: 65-70o F; humidity: 30-70%; lighting: 12 hrs/day.

*Life span is 1.5 to 2 years.

Hedgehog Care

Diet:

Until commercial hedgehog diets are available, the following combinations should suffice:

  • Prey or insectivore diet; cat/kitten food; fruit/vegetable mixture; mealworms or crickets.
  • With change of diet, mix new food with old food gradually.
  • Avoid feeding ad lib to minimize obesity.
  • Feed portion at night that will be consumed by morning.
  • Only a small amount need be present during the day.
  • Provide water at all times via water bottle.

Housing:

  • Provide a smooth walled enclosure that is high enough to prevent escape.
  • Avoid wire cages. (Feet may get caught.)
  • Bedding: shredded paper, composite pellets. Avoid cedar shavings.
  • Change bedding daily.
  • Include a small box, etc. for hiding and a solid exercise wheel (avoid wire wheels- feet get caught).
  • A shallow tub of warm water may be provided for wading.
  • Temperature: 75-85o F.

*Average life span: 3-5 years.

Lizard Care

Diet:

Herbivorous (eg. green lizards; ground iguanas; prehensile-tailed skink; chuckwalla):

  • Dark green, leafy vegetables.
  • Include calcium rich vegetables: turnip greens, mustard greens, beet greens, kale, dandelions, spinach, alfalfa, parsley.
  • Wash and chop vegetables; serve at room temperature.
  • Supplement diet with vitamins/minerals (including calcium) in moderate amounts.

Omnivorous (eg. spiny-tailed iguanas):

Feed iguana diet supplemented with insects, pinkies.

Carnivorous:

  • Pre-killed, whole prey of appropriate size.
  • Feed daily. Weigh frequently to prevent obesity.
  • Supplement calcium if only pinkie mice and/or meal worms fed.
  • Avoid dog, cat and monkey chow. (may result in hypervitaminosis D)
  • Horned lizards: exclusively ants and termites.
  • Geckos: insects.
  • Fence lizards, alligator lizards, skinks, anoles and chameleons: crickets, flies, grasshoppers,moths.
  • Calman lizards: fish, gastropods, mollusks.

Housing:

  • Enclosure should be smooth, secured with tight lid and large enough for climbing, etc.
  • Clean enclosure daily. (3% chlorine bleach, rinsed well and thoroughly dried before introducing pet)
  • Do not allow lizards to roam free in house to avoid trauma, chilling and escape.
  • Avoid reflective surfaces and mirrors.
  • Provide fresh water at all times.
  • Temperature: 75-80o F; humidity: 60-70% (leopard ground gecko=20-30%)
  • Light: full spectrum.
  • Average life span varies with species from 1-33 years. (Most approximately 10-15 years.)
  • Avoid placing multiple lizards in one enclosure.
Mouse Care

Diet:

Commercial mouse pellets. Seed based diets are incomplete.

Housing:

  • Wire mesh or plastic enclosure; approximately 15″ x 15″ x 6″.
  • Large enough to contain exercise wheel, nest and feeding area.
  • Bedding: shredded paper, pine or hardwood shavings. Avoid cedar shavings.
  • Avoid housing male mice together.
  • Temperature: 65-80o F; humidity: 30-70%.

*Average life span: 2 years

Rabbit Care

Rabbits make intelligent, friendly house pets. They live from 6-10 years, are easily litter trained and can be very affectionate. The following information will help you take the best care of your pet and allow it to live a happy, healthy life.

Diet:

A high quality diet may be fed in limited quantities. In order to avoid gastrointestinal problems, the pellets should contain a minimum of 18% fiber. Pellets should be kept cool or refrigerated to avoid spoilage.

Feeding guide for pelleted diets: (when fed in conjunction with diet recommended below)

Under 8 months of age: free choice

Over 8 months of age:

  • 2 – 4 lbs: 1/8 cup daily
  • 5 – 7 lbs: 1/4 cup daily
  • 8 – 10 lbs: 1/2 cup daily
  • 11 – 15 lbs: 3/4 cu daily

Rabbits should be given Timothy or Grass hay daily in UNLIMITED amounts. DO NOT use alfalfa hay regularly as it is too high in protein and calcium and may cause related health problems. Hay should be stored in a cool, dry spot with adequate circulation (ie. do not close it tightly in a plastic bag). Because we are restricting the amount of pellets, the hay is a major source of fiber and nutrients.

Feed your rabbit a wide variety of fresh vegetables. Examples include: carrots, kale, collard greens, escarole, romaine lettuce, endive and spinach. Iceburg lettuce is low in nutrients and should not be given to rabbits.

Water should always be available and should be changed daily. Vitamins and salt licks are not necessary if the above diet is followed.

Environment:

Metal cages may be used, however, a solid floored area is necessary to provide for resting. They should be 24″ x 24″ x 18″ high for small and medium sized breeds and 36″ x 36″ x 24″ high for the larger breeds. Newspaper may be used to cover the tray. The paper should be changed frequently to avoid urine scald and inhalation of ammonia fumes that accumulate due to the normally large quantity of urine produced.

Rabbits can be litter trained fairly easily. Pelleted paper or organic products make the best litter and are not toxic if ingested. Make sure the litter pan has sides that are low enough for the rabbit to climb in and out of easily.

Rabbits should be kept in the coolest, least humid area of the house. Rabbits kept in warm, humid areas develop many respiratory problems. Optimum temperature is 60-70o F degrees.

Handling:

When handling your rabbit, remember to always support the hind quarters. Rabbits backbones are fragile and can easily fracture if the hind legs are allowed to dangle and the rabbit gives strong kicks.

The best way to pick up a rabbit is to grasp the loose skin over it’s shoulders or scoop under the chest and then place your other hand under the back legs to lift your bunny from the floor. Work near the ground when first learning to handle the rabbit.

Medical Care:

If your rabbit shows clinical signs of illness, such as decreased appetite, lethargy, diarrhea, drooling, etc., veterinary attention should be sought immediately.

Rat Care

Diet:

  • Commercial rat/rodent pellets with protein levels of approximately 20-27%.
  • Do not supplement a good pellet diet.
  • Fresh water should be available at all times.
  • Soften pellets for rats <3 weeks of age.

Housing:

  • Wire mesh rodent cage with solid floor, escape proof and approximately 20″ x 20″ x 10″ per adult.
  • Aquariums (15-20 gallon) may be used, but are harder to clean.
  • Breeding pairs and females with young require 2-4 times more space.
  • Bedding: hardwood chips, shredded paper and/or composite pellets at a depth of 2-3 inches.
  • Nesting material: small cardboard box, small hat or sock.
  • Temperature: 65-80o F; humidity: 40-70%.
  • Lighting: 12 hours per day.

*Average life span is 2-3 year.

Snake Care

Food preference of selected snakes:

  • Boa, Pythons (Ball, Burmese, Reticulated): mammals and birds.
  • Garter: small mammals, fish, amphibians, slugs and earthworms.
  • Racer: small mammals, lizards, birds and amphibians.

Feeding tips:

  • Offer food on solid surface to avoid ingestion of bedding, etc.
  • Train snake to eat dead prey. During conversion, make sure prey is dead before leaving snake alone, otherwise remove prey. Make sure snake is not attacked or traumatized by prey.
  • Amount and frequency of feeding is based on appetite, frequency of defecation and physiologic needs (eg. increase frequency during growth and prior to reproduction).

Housing:

  • Aquariums and wooden boxes that are secure and appropriate for terrestrial or arboreal snakes.
  • Clean enclosures frequently. Preferably steam cleaned.
  • Bedding: wood shavings, composite pellets, newspaper.
  • Provide branches of various heights; hiding places (eg. secured rocks, box, vegetation).
  • Clean water should be available at all times and changed daily.
  • Food, water and hiding places should be located at various temperature gradients.
  • Temperature: 70-80o F; humidity: 30-60%; air exchange: 5-15x’s/hr.
  • Heat rocks work well; avoid incandescent lights due to possible burns.
Tarantula Care

Diet:

  • Vary diet: newborn mice, grass-hoppers, beetles, crickets, spiders, frogs and small lizards.
  • Feed prey live. Offer once a week. Keep size proportionate to tarantula.
  • Introduce prey in early evening. Remove prey if not eaten in 24 hours.
  • Dust prey with a complete vitamin/mineral powder prior to feeding.
  • A tarantula may sit motionless for hours prior to pouncing on prey. Feeding may take up to 2 days.
  • Provide drinking water in shallow dish. Change water daily.

 

Housing:

  • House tarantulas individually to avoid cannabalism.
  • Aquariums or terrariums with secure lids and at least 3 gallon volume.
  • Provide rocks, toilet paper rolls, small boxes and/or plastic pipes.
  • Provide branches for arboreal/tropical species.
  • Lighting: 12 hours per day.
  • Temperature: 73-85o F; humidity: desert species (50%) and tropical species (70%).

Tips:

Wear gloves when handling tarantulas to minimize bacterial contamination of tarantula from human.

Tarantulas will usually warn you of impending bite via: flicking hair, rearing on back legs and exposing fangs! If bitten, immediately consult a physician and seek medical care.

Turtle and Tortoise Care

Preferred Diets:

Aldabra tortoise, Desert tortoise, Gopher tortoise, Hermann’s tortoise, Spur-thighed tortoise:

  • Alfalfa, clover, grasses, grape leaves and hibiscus flowers.

Box turtle:

  • Vegetables, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, melons, insects, worms, snails and fish.
  • Painted turtle, Pond turtle, Snapping turtle:
  • Insects, fish, slugs, worms, snails and water plants.

Housing:

  • Habitat with area turtle/tortoise can climb in and out of water.
  • Change/clean water daily.
  • Heat via radiant heat sources. Basking area can be heated by overhead radiant source.
  • Provide a separate smaller tank for feeding. Rinse turtles clean daily.
  • Bedding: alfalfa pellets, large gravel, newspaper and leaf litter.
  • Do not use: sand, cedar chips, ground corn cobs, walnut shells, artificial grass, wood chips, gravel or anything that can be ingested and cause impaction.
  • Temperature: 75-85oF; humidity: approximately 60% (except terrestial species, eg. spur thighed tortoise:30%).