Reptile surgery is performed under general anesthesia, observing sterile technique, with appropriate monitoring and supportive care. The true strength layer for reptiles is the skin. To prevent dysecdysis after a skin incision heals, an everting suture pattern is used.
Exotic animal medicine is an exciting and rapidly growing part of companion animal practice. Exotics represent roughly 25-30% of the companion animal market for veterinary services. Pet owners readily seek out veterinary care for birds, small exotic mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
Rabbits, chinchillas, and guinea pigs are monogastric, hind-gut fermenters; all have a functional cecum and require a high-fiber diet. Fiber is broken down in the cecum by a variety of microorganisms which are nourished by a constant supply of water and nutrients from the stomach and small intestine.
As the popularity of reptiles has grown, so has the demand for quality veterinary care. Today, reptile medicine represents a viable subset of companion animal practice. Reptiles are stoic and have evolved to mask signs of illness, which makes them a challenge to diagnose and treat. For veterinarians and technicians who are willing to become proficient, however, reptile practice offers many rewards.
Rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas are all monogastric, hindgut-fermenting herbivores adapted to a course, high-fiber diet. They graze and browse almost continuously, chewing on plant material, gradually wearing their teeth down as a result. To compensate, the teeth (incisors and cheek teeth in these species) continue to erupt throughout life, at up to 2 mm per week.
Intubation provides better airway control than a face mask and minimizes the risk of aspiration. This is especially important for complex and prolonged procedures, when complications such as respiratory obstruction and hypoventilation are more likely to occur. Rabbits and rodents are difficult to intubate.
Pancreatic islet beta cell tumors secrete high levels of insulin and cause hypoglycemia. Clinical signs include lethargy, weight loss, weakness, ptyalism, bruxism, seizures, and death. Treatment modalities include medical therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, and dietary changes.