Choosing A Reptile Veterinarianby Dominick Giorgianni
When it comes to treating reptiles, some vets are better qualified than others. When choosing a veterinarian to care for your reptile, it is important to find a vet who is knowledgeable about the species, and has the skills and equipment to properly diagnose and treat your reptile, and with whom you feel comfortable.
I recommend that you find and develop a relationship with a qualified vet before you have an emergency. For some of us the "finding a vet" is the most difficult part. Listed below are some strategies and ideas to help you locate a qualified herp vet in your area.Where to Start Looking
One way to begin your search for a veterinarian is here on Herp Center
using our Reptile Vet Finder
. Another way to find a vet is the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV)
website. You can also network with other herpers at local meetings and herp expos. Ask other reptile owners which veterinarians they recommend and use. The third way to find a vet for your reptile is to call small veterinary practices in your area and ask to whom they refer reptile patients. Once you get the names of a few vets, call their offices and request a tour and a chance to meet the vets at their clinic. At the very least, request a short amount of time for a telephone interview with the veterinarian.Some questions you might want to ask the vet include:
Your First Visit to the Clinic
- How much experience do you have with reptiles?
- How many reptiles per week do you see on an average?
- Are there other vets in your office that will see reptiles? (If there are only one or a few vets that see reptiles, find out what happens if there is an emergency or illness on the herp vets days off?)
- Who covers weekends and emergencies? (If emergencies are referred to a local after-hours clinic, are the emergency vets competent in reptile medicine?)
- Are you a member of the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV)?
- Do you take continuing education courses related to reptiles? If so, how often?
- Are you comfortable performing the necessary diagnostics, treatments, and surgical procedures on reptiles?
- What resources do you have available in the event of unusual or unknown health issues?
There are several things to note when visiting the vets office for the first time. Ask yourself these questions:
The "Click" Factor
- How clean is the facility?
- Does the vet have proper caging to adequately and securely house a hospitalized reptile?
- Can the facility supply the correct environment for an reptile (UVB, heat, humidity, toileting, basking, diet, etc.)?
- What tools does the clinic use to monitor UVB, heat, and humidity of inpatient reptiles?
- Does the clinic have the basic equipment necessary to properly treat, diagnose, feed and probe reptiles?
As with every relationship, a certain amount of chemistry is necessary. This means that if you just do not "click" or if you have trouble communicating with the vets you interview (or currently use), you and your reptile may be better off continuing to search for a vet with whom you feel more comfortable. Remember, you are trusting your reptiles life to this person, you must feel comfortable not only with his experience level but also with his "bed-side" manner.