Where to Find Exotic Pet Veterinarians in Pennsylvania

Veterinarian holding a bearded dragon
Getty Images/Robert Daly

The vast majority of small animal training in veterinary school is devoted to canine and feline medicine. If veterinarians want to treat birds, ferrets, or snakes, they need to do a lot of work on their own during and long after veterinary school.

Exotic Pets

Exotic pet refers to any pet not commonly seen in traditional canine and feline practice and includes pet birds, reptiles, rabbits, rodents, exotic cats, miniature pigs, sugar gliders, small hooved stock, and sometimes zoo species. Although a rabbit is probably not considered “exotic” by most, care of these species requires special knowledge and training.

Exotic Vets for Exotic Pets

Specializing in or even seeing exotics for basic health care is something many vets won’t do if they don’t have the expertise. Even an “exotics” vet may not see all exotics. A vet may have the training to see birds but not reptiles; small mammals but not hedgehogs or marsupials; and so on. If a veterinary office tells you over the phone they are not willing to see your sugar glider, you should be grateful — not angry.

Traditional veterinary education usually does not adequately prepare veterinarians for the care of unusual pet species. Mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and amphibians all have their own anatomy and physiology, and treating their illnesses requires knowledge of this diversity. When veterinarians attempt to treat these special species as if they were cats and dogs, serious harm can occur. Veterinarians treating exotic and non-traditional pets must make the commitment to learn about these special species, and spend continuing education time keeping up with the latest advancements in exotic pet care. 

Finding an Exotic Vet

If they have no experience with your exotic, they must gracefully decline treatment. With any luck, they can refer you to a place that can help, but it is wrong for vets to be forced to see species that are out of their field of expertise.

Pennsylvania has an extensive list of exotics vets. So, if an exotics vet in Pennsylvania is what you are looking for, check out this list. Not all Pennsylvanian exotics vets see all exotic pets so be sure you call the clinic of your choice to see if they see your pet.

Some veterinarians are also specialists in pocket pets, reptiles or avian species. These veterinarians have had extra training and certification to show they are specialized in treating these kinds of exotic pets. Although these are experienced exotics vets, don't disregard other vets who are also experienced but have not gotten their specialization.

Exotic Vets in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania exotics vets are pretty plentiful, and if you think you don't need to take your pet rabbit, ferret, bird, or other exotic pet to one because you don't vaccinate them, then you're wrong. Even if the kind of pet you have doesn't require vaccines, they should still get at least an annual check-up with an exotics vet. Exotics are very good at hiding their illnesses until they just can't cover it up any longer. Therefore, it is very important to catch diseases early on and before your pet starts showing symptoms.

Even if your exotic pet doesn't need vaccines and doesn't appear ill to you, it is always a good idea to have a wellness check done once a year. Depending on the type of exotic pet you have, the exotics vet may want a fecal sample to run tests for bacteria and parasites, and at the very least, if you have an emergency with your pet you'll know where you're headed. Most exotic pet species are masters at hiding illness from owners. Most are prey species, and an important survival trick is to hide injury and illness to prevent predators from targeting them. Therefore, regular veterinary visits are important to help detect early indications of illness.

If you can't find the right exotics vet for you in Pennsylvania, consider checking a neighboring state.

Where to Find an Exotic Pet Veterinarian in Pennsylvania

Is there a reptile veterinarian in the area? Don’t all vets see gerbils? Here's a list of veterinarians in Pennsylvania who treat exotic pets.