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How Do I Know I’ve Chosen the Right Exotic Animal Care Doctor?

While pets like dogs and cats are easy to find qualified vets for, exotic animals are a little more challenging. Whether you have a snake, bird, gerbil, chinchilla, or other pet, you want an exotic animal care doctor who is experienced and knowledgeable so that they can provide your pet with quality care.

To help ensure you find a great exotic animal hospital in Orlando, here are some things to keep in mind.

They Can Provide Emergency Care

Exotic animal specialists are few and hard to come by, and the ones that you do find may not have the means to handle an emergency. Unfortunately, this is something that many pet owners don’t think about until such an emergency arises and their pet needs care immediately.

When looking for an exotic pet specialist, ask if they provide emergency care. While you never want to visit the vet unexpectedly, it can be reassuring to know that the option is there and that you won’t have to worry if your pet needs emergency help. 

The best way to avoid an emergency is to give your pet regular and annual exams. This will prevent illnesses from getting out of hand and detect many problems before they become an emergency. Even still, ask about emergency care before it becomes necessary.

They Have Experience With Your Pet

There are a wide number of exotic pets that people may have, from turtles and chameleons to monkeys and ferrets. No vet will have experience treating every type of animal. Unfortunately, this can make finding a doctor for your pet much more difficult.

While it can be tempting to choose any vet near you, take the time to search for one with experience treating your specific pet. This will help ensure that they can come up with the right treatment for your pet.

It’s worth noting that most vets will not undergo training for your pet during academic training. The treatments they learn and use will be learned as they work. This can be scary for many pet owners, but it is possible to find vets with past experience and the necessary qualifications to provide your pet with safe, high-quality care.

Vets who are particularly interested in exotic pet care will often be members of certain organizations such as the Association of Avian Veterinarians, the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians, and the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians. If you find a vet that is a member of a relevant organization, then it’s a good sign that they’ll be able to care for your pet.

They Are Comfortable Handling Your Pet

Some exotic pets can be scary to people. Tarantulas and snakes, for example, are two pets that tend to make people wary. Your vet needs to be comfortable handling your pet, so ensure they aren’t wary when examining it.

Watch how comfortable a vet is when picking up, examining, and handling your pet. If they seem relaxed and have a plan, then they likely have experience working with your pet. If they seem wary or fumble, they most likely don’t have the necessary experience.


Exotic pets can bring a lot of fun to your home. No matter what pet you have, it’s important that you have the means to care for them when the time arises. Choosing the right exotic animal care doctor is a big part of that, so approach the task seriously with your pet’s best interests in mind.

Author: Santiago Diaz
As a veterinarian focused exclusively on avians, exotics, and wildlife, Dr. Díaz has lectured widely, including at a National Veterinary Conference, the Merck Merial Conference, the Morris Animal Foundation Conference, and at various veterinary technician schools throughout Florida. ​