Below are some basic guidelines to help you determine if there may be a problem with your exotic pet.


Weight Loss

We recommend that you keep track of the weight of your exotic pet. A gram or postal scale is inexpensive and can be used on many of the smaller species of exotic pets. You can keep a log of your pet's weight every 2-4 weeks. Weight loss may be an early sign of a problem, especially since many exotic pets have fur or feathers, making difficult to notice a loss in body mass.



Subtle changes in behavior can also be a sign of illness. Increased hiding behaviors, sitting at the bottom of the cage or off in the corner, reluctance to interact with cage mates, and less responsiveness when handled are all signs that your pet should be seen by a veterinarian.



Watch for decreases or increases with the frequency of defection/urination or other changes (color, texture, etc) in feces or urine. These changes are signs that should not be ignored. Daily observations should help in detecting changed in color or texture, while noticing that the cage if dirtier or cleaner than usual during regularly scheduled changes can aid in detecting changes in frequency.



Loss or decrease in appetite is another early sign that your pet may be sick. This requires knowledge of the particular species, as this may be normal depending on the species, season, and reproductive cycle. For example, birds have a high metabolic rate and require daily feeding whereas reptiles, which have a slower metabolic rate, require more infrequent feedings.


The Next Step

These are general guidelines to help determine if your pet is ill. Since no one knows your pet better than you, a good rule of thumb is that if you are concerned, then you should seek the advice of a veterinarian.