The Exotic Vet

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Small Mammals

  • Wrap rabbits up in a “burrito” to help control them
  • When putting rabbits back in their cages, place them butt first to prevent them leaping out of your arms
  • Carry rabbits like footballs, tuck their heads under your armpit and support their rump and place a hand on their back
  • Rabbits can also be turned on their backs and have their rumps supported
  • Never allow a rabbit to kick or jump, they will break their backs!
  • Ferrets can be scruffed and dangled during physical exams
  • When scruffed a ferret will almost always yawn giving a change for a quick oral exam
  • Grasp chinchillas by the base of their tails and support their bodies. Do not pull at their tails or you will deglove them!
  • Never scruff a chinchilla! You will pull their hair out and damage the pelt.
  • Scruff hamsters until they smile! Pull their dorsal skin tight otherwise they can still turn and bite!
  • Rats can be grasped under their armpits and around their mandibles
  • Guinea pigs do not like to be restrained! Too much stress will cause them to overheat and die
  • Guinea pigs seem to have no sense of table edges and will just walk right off of one, do not leave them unattended!

Small mammal owners seem to be the ones that get upset about handling the most. Reassure them gently that you are not harming them and that they must be held this way to keep them safe. Dangling ferrets and scruffing hamsters seem to cause the most grief, I have had an owner take the ferret from me and leave because “they are not meant to scruffed like that!” but I promise none of these techniques cause harm or pain. Again practice these on docile animals before an emergency comes in because that is not the time to learn how to handle a ferret or rabbit.