Exotic Services

We see more than just dogs, cats and horses! Our online library of articles has great information on exotic pets as well. Browse this section or Contact us at: Animal Medical Services Mount Airy, NC (336) 786-9444 or Galax Veterinary Clinic Galax, Virginia (276) 236-4212

Wing Clipping

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Clipping a bird’s feathers can protect your bird and your home. Wing clipping is a nonpainful procedure that ensures the safety of your bird in its environment and keeps your bird from chewing holes in your doors and window frames. It limits your bird’s ability to fly, removing the risk of injury from flying into a ceiling fan, onto a hot stovetop, or into (or out) a window.

Having your bird’s feathers professionally clipped helps ensure that the right feathers are removed without irritating the skin. Improperly clipped wings can cause your bird to pluck or chew its feathers. In addition, inexperienced wing clipping can result in a blood feather being accidentally trimmed, a situation that can become life-threatening. We can perform this procedure safely while preserving the aesthetic appearance of your bird. Please feel free to call us to discuss this option, as well as any concerns you might have, or to set up an appointment.

Toenail Trims

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Most birds need to have their nails trimmed regularly. However, the process can be detrimental to your bird if its nails are trimmed too short. We can take care of this procedure for you so that you don’t have to worry about nicking the blood vessels inside the nails. Call us if you’d like to schedule an appointment.

Be careful if you perform this procedure at home. In fact, we only suggest that you attempt this at home if your bird is small and has white nails (which allow you to see the blood vessels). We also suggest you keep a caustic agent, such as styptic powder, on hand in case a nail bleeds.

Providing perches with rough surfaces can help reduce the frequency of nail trimming, but do not use sandpaper perches. They don’t wear down the nails and can cause skin problems.

Beak Trims

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Beaks continue growing throughout birds’ lives. Although birds’ beaks usually wear evenly, some birds develop beak problems and require veterinary assistance. Trimming its beak incorrectly can cause your bird pain and may prevent it from eating, which is why we recommend having your bird’s beak professionally trimmed. Do not attempt to trim your bird’s beak at home. Call us to schedule an appointment.

Snakes

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Snakes can suffer from a variety of diseases, some of which can cause serious respiratory, gastrointestinal, and liver problems. They also commonly harbor internal and external parasites, including hookworms, roundworms, mites, and ticks.

We recommend that you bring your new snake in for an initial exam so we can make sure it’s healthy. If your snake needs future veterinary attention, we’ll also have a baseline to compare against. Although snakes don’t need vaccinations, they can benefit from routine exams. Annual veterinary visits can even help your snake live longer.

We are happy to share our specialized knowledge of appropriate enclosures, temperature and humidity, lighting, substrates (ground covering), cleaning, and skin shedding. Besides having feeding requirements that are species specific, snakes can become stressed and may not eat. If this happens, please contact us so we can help. We can also determine the sex of your snake.

A healthy snake should flick its tongue and be alert and active, showing interest in its environment; its scales should be smooth and dry. Call us immediately if you notice any of the following signs of illness: vomiting or regurgitation, diarrhea, loss of appetite or weight, weakness or loss of energy, wheezing, mucus or bubbling around the nostrils, changes around the mouth (inflammation, purplish-red spots, dry and diseased tissue), and changes in the skin (reddening, slow-healing sores, swelling, discharge).

Other Exotic Animals

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Although a lot of information regarding exotic animals is widely available on the Internet, it is often difficult to determine what sources to trust. You can rely on our experienced veterinary team’s knowledge of mice, rats, pot-bellied pigs, hedgehogs, and other exotic pets.

Not only can we provide medical assessments and perform surgical procedures, but we can also help you prevent many diseases related to improper nutrition or environment, which are extremely common in these animals. Please schedule an appointment so we can discuss your exotic pet’s nutritional and housing needs.

Rabbits

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Rabbits are susceptible to a variety of diseases and conditions, including overgrown teeth, hairballs, parasites, and cancer. They also tend to hide signs of illness or pain.

Contact us if your rabbit:

  • Has discharge from the eyes or nose, runny stool, or a gurgling stomach
  • Has an elevated or low temperature
  • Begins drooling, scratching at the ears, or sneezing
  • Starts tilting his or her head
  • Develops bald patches in his or her fur
  • Stops eating, appears overly quiet, or shows other abnormal behavior

In addition, your rabbit can benefit from regular dental checkups. We can help make sure problems with your rabbit’s teeth don’t turn into serious, potentially life-threatening conditions. Blue Ridge Veterinary Services has the specialized dental equipment needed for rabbits.

We also strongly suggest that you have your rabbit spayed or neutered. Not only can rabbits potentially give birth once a month, but they can also have up to 14 babies at a time! Even in households with a single rabbit, spaying or neutering has plenty of benefits: It can protect your rabbit from several types of cancer and reduce or eliminate aggression, as well as other undesirable behavior, such as spraying, mounting, destructive chewing, and biting. Spaying or neutering will not change your rabbit’s personality. You can have confidence that we understand the special needs that rabbits have when it comes to anesthesia and surgery.

If you have any questions about how to best care for your rabbit, we’d be happy to discuss proper diet, housing, grooming, and even litterbox training.

Iguanas and Other Lizards

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Nutrition-related disorders and diseases are common in iguanas and other lizards. We can help you avoid these problems. Call us to set up a nutritional consultation so we can discuss how to help keep your lizard healthy.

We also offer an initial checkup for new lizard owners to help identify current or potential medical problems and, if necessary, begin treatment. In addition, we can provide you with information on appropriate enclosures, environmental requirements, sanitation, and disease prevention.

Gerbils, Guinea Pigs, and Hamsters

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Just because they’re small doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from veterinary attention. Teeth, which grow continuously in gerbils, guinea pigs, and hamsters, often require trimming. (We can also recommend appropriate chew toys, which may help keep the teeth worn down.) Parasites such as lice, mites, and fleas can infest your pet. In addition, these companion animals can suffer from other health issues.

Call us if your pet stops eating, loses weight, appears quieter than normal, has discharge from the eyes or nose, or develops a lump on its body. We can provide treatment that fits within your budget.

Ferrets

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You can help keep your ferret healthy by bringing him or her in for an exam once a year. That way, we can monitor any changes that occur in your pet and help prevent or catch diseases early, when they’re easier to treat. As ferrets age, they may need additional testing and dental care.

Common problems associated with ferrets include gastrointestinal disease, parasites, and cancer. In addition, ferrets are inquisitive creatures by nature and frequently ingest objects they shouldn’t. Regular blood tests can help determine whether your ferret has any problems with the kidneys, liver, or pancreas.

Ferrets can also benefit from receiving certain vaccinations and monthly preventives, which we’d be happy to discuss with you during your visit. Please bring a stool sample to your ferret’s annual exam so we can test for internal parasites.

Unless you are planning to breed your ferret, we recommend that he or she be spayed or neutered. Female ferrets, or jills, do not need to give birth once to stay healthy. In fact, spaying can save a ferret’s life. Jills that haven’t been spayed will stay in heat until they’re bred. This condition can cause anemia (a decrease in red blood cells), which can be fatal. In male ferrets, neutering can reduce their strong body odor, prevent marking, and reduce aggressive behavior.

Please contact us right away if your ferret develops any unusual symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, lack of appetite, trouble breathing, black ear wax, discharge from the eyes or nose, lumps, swelling, or an increase in aggression or sexual behavior (especially in neutered males).

Medical Assessment

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A medical assessment begins with a physical examination whereby your pet’s eyes, ears, skin, cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal and skeletal system are examined for any abnormalities. Blood tests can be performed as necessary to assess the proper functioning of your pet’s kidneys, liver, pancreas, and endocrine system including the thyroid gland and adrenal glands. Urine tests can detect similar problems. Depending on your pet’s condition, we may recommend further diagnostic tests such as radiography (X-rays), endoscopy (internal scoping), ultrasound or surgery.

Emergencies

We have a veterinarian on call for emergencies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call the clinic and if your call is not answered directly you will receive a message instructing you how to reach the on-call doctor.