This spring I was lucky to be able to participate in several exotic animal elective courses, and one of them was a lab period in which we practiced several procedures we might do on exotic pets in our future jobs. We got to take blood samples, do anesthesia, and practice physical exams and common procedures on a variety of species. I was excited to be able to learn better handling of several different categories of exotic animals. To work with these kinds of animals is such a privilege and, no matter our level of experience, we all have things to learn from them.
In exotics, many lab parameters and methods of surgery, anesthesia, and pain control are still hotly debated. Even though we have some data on these species, even among the same kind of exotic animal there are differences. Different kinds of birds, for example, are susceptible to different kinds of diseases or different kinds of reactions to those diseases, or to the drugs we use, or require different modes of collecting biological samples. It’s great to be a student in exotics because we are all students of exotics, each of us learning something new or perfecting our techniques every time we handle them. I love learning from experts in this field—our exotics clinicians—who have years of experience adapting to these creatures, pets, or captive animals, who are wilder than most.