Snakes, Lizards, Rats, Gerbils, Hamsters—Bring Us Your Reptiles and Pocket Pets!
FloridaWild Integrative Veterinary Center & Urgent Care welcomes small mammals and reptiles. Our veterinarians can advise you about proper care, feeding, and maintenance of your pet, as well as treat illnesses and conditions specific to their species.
Many of these pets require a very particular environment to thrive, and it’s important you have a veterinarian experienced in their care to help. We see a wide variety of pets, so if your companion is something smaller—or a little more exotic—than a cat or dog, don’t hesitate to give us a call!
We use this opportunity to teach you some things that perhaps you didn’t already know about birds. For example, why UV light is critical or why a pelleted diet is a must. During this time, we also are happy to answer any questions about birds.
The first appointment will typically last an hour. At this time, we will gather information about your bird’s environment, food, socialization, behavior, and any past illness. We will perform a thorough physical examination and recommend baseline blood work and/or infectious disease testing.
The exact nutritional requirements of caged birds are unknown. There is such a great variation in each species of bird. What is known, however, is that the seed and nut diet is miserably deficient in essential nutrients for all birds, especially for large parrots. These seed diets are excessively rich in oils and deficient in vitamins A, D, & E, as well as calcium.
Furthermore, research has shown that the high oil content of these food items is addictive.
The vast majority of bird owners do not have the time nor knowledge to properly balance a totally home prepared diet; therefore, the ideal caged bird’s diet should consist of at least 75% or more of a pellet diet. The exception to this rule is the Eclectus Parrot. These commercially formulated diets have proven to be the most complete nutritional source yet for birds.
There are many pellet diets on the market; some are compressed, extruded (cooked and aerated) and some are baked. The following is a list of FloridaWild Integrative Veterinary Center & Urgent Care‘s favorites, based on nutrition, natural content and palatability:
- Oven Fresh Bites
Converting seed junkies into nutritionally sound pellet eating birds is not easy. Recommendations and tips to smooth diet conversions will be discussed during the exam. The key to conversion is commitment and persistence! Every single bird can be converted to pellets.
What is Foraging?
Foraging is the act of looking for food. Birds spend the largest portion of their time awake foraging for food. This act of looking for food provides exercise and mental stimulation. It has been shown that birds prefer to forage for hidden food rather than eat from a dish of food next to them.
You can create amazing foraging opportunities for your bird, easily and inexpensively. Happy, busy parrots are less likely to engage in feather destruction and other unwanted behaviors such as aggression and screaming. Let us help you create a positive and interactive environment and help your birds live their best life!
At FloridaWild Integrative Veterinary Center & Urgent Care, a great number of our avian patients present to us with behavior problems. The most devastating of these is feather destruction behavior that has spiraled into self-mutilation. We have to work hard to halt unwanted behaviors early in life and this is accomplished through education.
How are wild parrots weaned? Where do they live? What do they spend their days doing? What do they eat?
We have a huge responsibility to our caged parrots. These creatures are designed to fly for miles, forage for food, breed and interact with other birds. They are highly intelligent and sensitive animals. We must respect their needs and provide our captive birds with the best possible environment to prevent unwanted and potentially life threatening behaviors.
Exotic Mammal Medicine
We see all types of exotic mammals. During your appointment we will gather information about your exotic mammal’s environment, food, socialization and any past illness. We will perform a physical examination including a thorough dental exam.
We use this opportunity to teach you some things that perhaps you didn’t already know about exotic mammals.
We see a variety of reptiles. During your first appointment, we will gather information about your reptile’s environment, food, socialization, and any past illness. We will perform a physical evamination.
We use this opportunity to teach you some things that perhaps you didn’t already know about reptiles.
What is UV Light and Why is it Important?
UV Stands for Ultraviolet and is an important part of natural sunlight. It is invisible to the human eye and has 3 different wavelengths. In herpetology, the UVA and UVB wavelengths are the most significant.
UVA is the wavelength that is visible to reptiles and amphibians. It aids in inducing natural behaviors like feeding, breeding, and is essential for their overall well-being.
UVB light is the invisible light that helps some reptiles convert Vitamin D3 in their skin to aid in utilizing calcium from their diet. In other words, without the UVB light, calcium cannot be absorbed from their food or supplements. This lack of calcium leads to Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).
MBD is common in reptiles that are cared for improperly. Because the body has a demand for calcium and cannot absorb it from the diet, it begins to mobilize the calcium from the animals bones. This decrease in bone density leads to fractures, usually in multiple locations. This is a very painful disease.
Does Every Reptile Need UV Light?
No! Nocturnal species, such as the leopard gecko, do not require the UV light. This is because their bodies have adapted to hunting at night and therefore in the wild, are not exposed to this wavelength. In addition, snakes do not require UV light because they obtain Vitamin D3 from their prey. But other animals like Green Iguanas, American Anoles and Bearded Dragons need the UVB light. If the reptile originates from tropical places, then the need for UVB light increases and there are products specifically for these pets.
How to Provide UV Light
There are a few ways that UV light can be provided to your pets including fluorescent tubes, fluorescent power compact bulbs, mercury vapor bulbs and ulfiltered sunshine.
It is crucial to remember that plexiglass and windows filter out the UV light needed. In addition, wire mesh also decreases the amount of UV light absorbed by reptiles. Keeping this in mind, having little or nothing between the light source and the animal is most beneficial.
Fluorescent bulbs made by ZooMed and Exo-Terra are excellent. These are inexpensive and easy to use. Please keep in mind that these bulbs need to be changed every 6 months (even if the light is still on). This insures that the proper UV light is radiating from the bulbs.
But, alas, Mother Nature is always better. None of the options for your reptile even come close to the advantages of natural sunlight. If possible, build an outdoor enclosure that is safe and provides adequate shade to prevent overheating. An aquarium outside is never a good idea. This is because the glass of the aquarium acts as a greenhouse effect and will cause the animal to overheat quickly. In addition, when constructing, use the largest mesh possible to prevent escape and decrease the UV light filtered.
More Information about UV Lighting
UV Lighting by California Zoological Supply (Cal. Zoo.).
Reptile Lighting by Melissa Kaplan.
UV Lighting: Sunshine on their Shoulders by Bonnie J. Keller.
Thanks to Western New York Herpetological Society for this helpful information.
Exotic Pet Care in DeLand, FL
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