Exotic Healthcare

“Even the smallest one can change the world” Peter Rabbit

Exotic companion pets are classified as birds, small mammals, fish, reptiles, rodents and amphibians. We provide a small animal veterinary service, meaning we are happy to see multiple species such as cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and some reptiles.

If we cannot provide a service for you and your pet, we will have an alternative option for you available. For all companion pets a yearly examination with a vet will help keep them in the best of health. Please call the clinic to ensure a vet with appropriate exotic experience is available to see you and your pet.


Rabbit Vaccination

Rabbits are being more common as companion pets due to their affectionate and sociable natures. Depending on their breed, rabbits vary in their age classification with smaller breeds usually reaching sexual maturity earlier than t larger rabbit breeds.

However, around 12 months of age rabbits are considered adults and we would recommend a yearly health check alongside with a vaccination. There is only one rabbit vaccination available in Australia Calici virus.

What does a Calici Virus vaccine protect my bunny from?

In an attempt to control the wild rabbit population, Calici virus is regularly released into the Australian environment. Calici virus is usually fatal to unvaccinated rabbits as it causes severe internal bleeding. Many rabbits may not show any signs of the diseases, but symptoms can include bloody discharge from the nose of bottom.

We recommend for this vaccine to be given between 10-12 weeks with a booster vaccination given 1 month later. After this a yearly vaccination is recommended for adult rabbits.

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Rabbit and Guinea Pig Nutrition

Rabbit and Guinea pigs are hind gut fermenters which means they digest most of their food in the caecum (appendix) and colon (large intestine). Due to being hind gut fermenters and having continually erupting teeth, a consistent diet of fibre and roughage is crucial to ensure the caecum stays in balance, to stimulate GI tract mobility and for the GI system to function properly.

What should I feed my bunny or guinea pig?

Hay is the most important food to feed your rabbit and guinea pig, as it is their primary source of fibre. Fresh grass hay should be freely available at all times for your bunny and pig and should be replaced each day. Grass hays are best to feed daily as others such as Timothy and Lucerne have different nutrients and have been associated with urine crystal and bladder stone formation.

Nutrition for your bunny and guinea pig should ideally be 80% hay and 15% fresh veggies 5% treats such as pellet food or fruit. Pellets and fruit in large quantities can cause your bunny or pig to put on weight and have gastrointestinal mobility problems. These should be kept to a minimum with hay and fresh veggies making up the most of your pet’s nutrition.

Best veggies to feed every day:

Parsley | Kale| Coriander| Romaine or dark leaf lettuce (avoid iceberg) | Basil | Bok Choy | Celery| Parsley | Dill | Alfafa | Radish | Dandelion | Mint | Watercress | Rocket

Fruits to feed sparingly:

Apple | Banana| Blueberries |Pear| Pineapple | Raspberries| Strawberries|Blueberries

Occasional treats:

Carrot tops| Carrots | Broccoli | Naturally dried fruits

One last thing, ALWAYS BE CONSISTENT!

Its super important to not only feed your rabbit and guinea pig the right food, but to ensure you are consistent with what you feed them. If their diet is consistent, then so will the bacterial population be inside your rabbit or pig. Therefore, it is important that the same types of food are offered every day. For instance, if you feed apple for 3 days and then stop; the bacteria that digests the apple grows and reproduces. If after 3 days you then stop feeding apple to your bunny, the bacteria die off due to having no apple to digest. Large amounts of this bacteria decreasing produces gas which can be painful and uncomfortable. This is the beginning of indigestion which can lead to more serious consequences such as gastrointestinal ileus which can be an emergency situation.

Guinea pigs and Vitamin C

Guinea pigs like humans cannot produce Vitamin C. Therefore, they require a daily dietary supplement ranging from 20-50mg per kg of body weight according to Oxbow Australia. Oxbow Adult Guinea pig pellets already contain stabilized Vitamin C.

Signs of Vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) include:

  • Hind leg weakness
  • Gum inflammation
  • Unkempt fur coat
  • Bleeding in the joints or under the skin.

If you would like any more information about rabbit or guinea pig husbandry, feel free to speak to one or our friendly nurses. We can also book in a health check for your companion when it suits you best.