A chameleon on a hand

It’s a common misconception that exotic pets and pocket pets are easier to take care of than a more traditional pet. Exotic and pocket pets tend to eat less and take up less room, but that doesn’t mean they don’t require just as much time, energy, and love as a dog or a cat.

Part of responsible pet ownership is bringing your pet to the veterinarian if they are ill or injured. Knowing how to tell when your exotic or pocket pet is sick is the first step in getting them the care they need. 

Help! I Think My Exotic Pet is Sick!

Like dogs and cats, exotic pets and small mammals are hardwired to hide signs of illness or pain. This helps them to avoid predation and harassment in the wild, but it can be a detriment when it comes to life in a human home.

Because so many exotic and pocket pets don’t see a veterinarian until it’s too late, keen observation is needed to catch problems early.

Watch for the following signs that your exotic or pocket pet is sick:

  • Changes in eating/drinking habits – Eating or drinking more, less, or not at all. Vomiting, regurgitation, or excessive water soaking also indicate a problem.
  • Changes in stool – Producing more or less stool or urine, or any changes in the appearance of stool or urine.
  • Changes in appearance – Weight loss or gain, losing feathers or fur, changes in skin color, swelling of limbs, tail, or jaw, lumps/bumps, lesions, soft spots in shell (turtles).
  • Changes in behavior – Any changes in normal behavior, such as hiding more, suddenly aggressive, sitting on bottom of cage (birds), staying in one corner of the enclosure, lethargic, or seeming disoriented. 
  • Breathing problems – Open mouthed breathing, wheezing, squeaking, or excessive saliva production
  • Limping – Any limping, lameness, or other signs of injury.

The Pet Experts Can Help

Annual wellness examinations are extremely important for all pets, and birds, reptiles, and small mammals are no exception. The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center are proud to offer comprehensive care for exotic and pocket pets. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with your questions, or to schedule an appointment for your pet.