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Exotic & Bird Vets Devon

Our vets in Devon provide quality veterinary services for both common and more unusual exotic species. We also have a specialist chicken vet. Our Witheridge and Winkleigh practices are fully equipped with modern surgical, laboratory, anaesthetic, radiography and hospitalisation facilities to provide all the veterinary services that your pet may need. If you would like to book an appointment, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

What Are Exotic Pets?

‘Exotic’ pets include rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, chinchillas, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, degus, snakes, tortoises and other reptiles and chelonians. These species are becoming increasingly popular as pets, especially the ‘small furries’ as a first pet for young children.

Types Of Health Problems That Affect Small Furries

Small furries can be susceptible to a number of health problems. They can also suffer from the same health issues as cats and dogs. Common issues include:

Respiratory infections are a relatively common problem in these pets, accounting for a reasonable proportion of visits to the vet. Each individual species is susceptible to different types of infection and can pick these infections up from other animals or from poor environments. In most cases treatment is successful, but it is important that these problems are detected early in your pets and treated as soon as possible. Due to their small size, infections can quickly become serious.

Ectoparasites, especially mites, are also relatively common amongst small furries. Infection usually arises from contaminated bedding being introduced into their environment. Treatment is, again, usually simple and effective. We recommend using a spot-on solution applied to the back of the neck, and this product can be used in rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, ferrets, rodents and birds.

Dental disease and overgrown, broken and misaligned teeth are unfortunately a common occurrence in small furries. Our vets can treat all kinds of teeth problems.

Signs to look out for that may indicate a dental problem include weepy eyes, drooling, grinding teeth, a sensitive mouth, runny nose, diarrhoea, and a reduced appetite.

RHD1 & 2 are contagious viruses that if caught, can be fatal. These viruses attack the internal organs, which can lead to internal bleeding, and sadly, death. The virus can be carried on the owners clothes and shoes.

Symptoms include a high temperature, blood around the bottom, mouth or nose, loss of appetite and lethargy. However, in most cases, the rabbit will suddenly die without showing any of these symptoms. A post mortem is the only way to confirm whether the rabbit died of RHD.

Annual vaccinations will mitigate the risk of infection.

Myxomatosis is a viral disease that is spread by biting insects and is usually fatal.

Symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear and include loss of appetite, respiratory problems, inflamed eyes that can lead to blindness, swelling, ulcers, nose and eye discharge. 

The only way to protect your rabbit from Myxomatosis is to have it vaccinated at intervals specified by your vet.

Reptile & Chelonian Health Care

Our team of vets can provide reptile and chelonian health care. We can provide advice on care, examinations and check-ups, and help treat any health problems that they may be suffering from.

Regular issues that we encounter with reptiles and chelonians, including snakes, lizards, geckos, tortoises, and so on, relate to husbandry problems. Each individual species has very specific requirements in terms of environment and diet. To maintain a healthy reptile or chelonian, these requirements need to be met as precisely as possible. If you need advice on the best way to look after your reptiles and chelonians, then please get in touch.

Ferret Health

Ferrets can be inquisitive and interesting pets to keep. We provide expert ferret health veterinary services to ensure your pet stays happy and healthy. Our regular services include vaccinations and examinations, and we are also on hand to address more serious problems and emergencies.

Ferret Vaccinations

Ferrets can be vaccinated for distemper, using the DHPPi dog vaccine. Vaccination can take place from 12 weeks of age, with a primary course of two injections given two weeks apart. Annual boosters are then required to maintain immunity to the disease.

Female Ferret Neutering

Female ferrets (‘jills’) also need special consideration as they will remain in season unless they are mated. This prolonged season can cause serious illness, including a severe anaemia.

If you do not intend to mate your female ferret, then neutering is recommended. This can take place from 6 months of age. Alternatively, we can inject them with Delvosteron (the ‘jill jab’) just before their season or once they have come into season. This injection should stop them cycling for the rest of the breeding season, which runs from March to September.

Male Ferret Castration

Male ferrets (‘hobs’) can be castrated in a similar manner to dog castration. Castration ideally should be done between January and September when the male is sexually active, and the testicles are fully descended.


Our team of vets can care for your birds. As well as offering general veterinary services, we can provide practical advice relating to care and nutrition. Our services cover parasite control, beak and nail trims, blood tests, radiography, ultrasounds and more. Marcella Palmer is our specialist chicken vet and offers health care and reproductive health care.

Arrange An Appointment

If you would like to arrange an appointment with our exotic pet vets in Devon, then please contact your local West Ridge Veterinary Practice. As well as regular health checks, we offer a wide range of specialist veterinary services intended to keep your pets in good health.

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