Parasite control in exotic animal species

Parasite control in exotic animal species


We’re all aware of the importance of parasites in our pets. We know we need to protect our pets. Even more importantly, while we protect them, we protect ourselves and our loved ones.

When thinking of pets and their health care, most of us can relate to typical preventative and curative strategies towards dog and cat parasites. A variety of topical and oral treatments adorn the shelves of veterinary practices and the pages of family magazines. But what about the others, the odd crowd, the reptiles, fish, birds and small mammals increasingly common in captivity?

Fleas affect all small mammals (rats, mice, rabbits and guinea pigs). Don’t forget lice and interesting characters such as “Walking Dandruff Mites” and “Sarcoptic Mange Mites”! Stick-tight fleas, particularly nasty critters, will attack pet birds and hide, buried into their skin, well out of sight to avoid detection. Mites and ticks target reptiles and have been implicated in viral disease transfer, wiping out entire collections. Similarly, in the case of cage birds, external parasites can cause severe disease syndromes including disfiguring lesions and generalized loss of condition.

Internal parasites cause poor development, condition loss and eventually gastrointestinal disease symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Several of these pathogens will easily target human hosts and, since these affect our pets, keepers are at obvious risk.


So, what do I do? Firstly, I cannot stress the importance of proper research enough. Research everything from husbandry needs to disease risks of the pet species you are considering. Do your homework on the source (are they captive bred or wild caught? Ethics?) or breeder and his/her facilities. If you already have similar species at home, all new arrivals will need a thorough veterinary examination and at least thirty days of ‘quarantine’ away from the current collection.

We recommend a thorough veterinary examination of all exotic pets at least once, preferably twice, a year. Ectoparasites (mites, lice, fleas, ticks) are usually found through a combination of visual and microscopic examinations. Endoparasites (coccidia, protozoa, worms) are typically found on examination of faeces under a microscope. Appropriate treatment will then be suggested or administered by a veterinarian. Some commonly used dog and cat products may be highly toxic to exotic species. Blanket treatments serve no purpose and eventually lead to drug resistance.

Contact your veterinarian today. We will gladly assist in your pet’s needs.