Guess the species?

Answers in comments please…..

Number 1

Number 2

Number 3



On the subject of POO!

Faeces can tell you alot in veterinary medicine. Being an exotics vet I deal with my fair share as parasites and gastrointestinal diseases are often more significant than in our usual mammalian patients.

Rabbits produce two types of faeces; firstly soft, mucus covered lumps of dark wet faeces called caecotrophs, which the rabbits eat again, directly from the anus. These are then digested a second time to produce the more familiar small round drier pellets everyone associates with rabbit droppings. The caecotrophs below brought me great satisfaction (sad I know!), as I had been treating the  rabbit in question for several days for a potentially fatal conditon called Ileus or Gut Stasis, whereby the gut slows down or stops working altogether, and hence faecal production stops.


Another reason I’m often referred to as the poo vet in my practice is that I run alot of faecal screens in the lab, specifically in reptiles for gastrointestinal parasites. In most reptiles which are anorexic, inappetant, or generally unwell I request a faecal sample, especially where there is an unknown history, a history of poor hygiene or quarantine conditions, or if the animal is wild caught.

More to come on this topic at a later date……….

Favourite past patients……

Here’s a few of the more exotic and unusual patients I’ve treated since becoming a vet….

Aardwolf pup

Peregrine Falcon chick

White-backed Vulture

Having a giraffe!

Rhinoceros iguana

Slow Loris

Snow Leopard kisses

Western Diamondback albino rattlesnake

European Green Lizards from UK reintroduction project









Teeth, evolution ramblings and Caiman Lizards….

Teeth come in a huge array of designs and forms, and looking at species-specific variations can tell you alot about an animal’s lifestyle and diet. In the boa above several rows of small sharp, rear-facing teeth allow the snake to grab it’s fast-moving prey and hold onto it as it struggles in the split-seconds before it coils around the prey to constrict and suffocate it before swallowing whole. On the other hand, the lizard mouth below shows a highly specialised dentition designed for crushing snails and other hard-shelled molluscs. This is a specialist snail feeder, a South American Caiman Lizard (Draceana guianensis), possessing small rounded bead-like teeth and incredibly strong jaws for crushing it’s rather more slow-moving prey.

Both animals were brought to clinic recently, unfortunately the lizard was found dead and came for a post mortem which revealed head trauma with secondary infection as the cause of death. Interestingly though, the post mortem exam also showed a condition known as hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver, associated with a captive diet of dog food. These lizards are difficult to provide for in captivity, getting them to eat in the first place and then maintaining a snail-only diet in the long term both being tricky. Because dog food contains much higher carbohydrate and fat content than their wild diet, and their relative inactivity compared to wild conditions, the liver converts excess food into fat which can lead to fatal complications. I am currently working on providing a better alternative animal protein based diet to prevent such complications in the remaining lizards in the collection. This problem is commonly seen in large carnivorous reptiles in captivity, specifically monitors and tegus which have evolved to range over very wide areas in the wild in search of food items of relatively low nutritional value.

Look away now if you’re squeamish, but here is the liver removed form the above specimen. It is grossly enlarged, has rounded rather than sharp edges to each lobe, is light yellowish brown in colour instaed of dark red/brown as normal, and has a marbled appearance in closer detail. When removed it was extremely friable, splitting easily and when sectioned the scalpel blade sliced through it extremely easily almost peeling the organ apart. These are all pathological signs of hepatic lipidosis which we would have missed had the owner not agreed to a post mortem examination. Hopefully we can reverse these changes through a modified diet in the remaining lizards.

Buster Collars and following instructions…..

Buster collars, Elizabethan collars, lampshades or the dreaded ‘Cone of Shame’. Only prescribed when absolutely necessary, but all too often taken off too early by owners feeling sorry for their pet. One of the most frequent client compliance issues when animals are discharged from hospital. Also has to be one of the most frustrating things for the vet on recheck appointments when all your surgical efforts are destroyed because the owner doesn’t follow the instructions to leave the collar on.

We know he doesn’t like it, but if you leave it on he’ll get used to it. If you allow him or assist him to get it off in the first few hours he’ll never tolerate it. Which would you prefer, a sulking dog for a few days or an infected, inflamed wound, or worse still burst stitches and abdominal contents draggin on the floor? It’s all happened folks, please just leave the collar on as requested.

Sorry, rant over……………