Ok so this might be a stupid question but how often do I need to take my snakes to the vet or do I even need to take them to the vet? I looked it up and I got really mixed answers.
If you have a single pet snake, it is ideal to take them to the vet annually, just like a cat or dog. this can not only help screen for illness, but also give you a baseline ‘normal’ to compare to should your pet get ill in the future. That said, most experienced hobbyists don’t do that. This may be because they feel it’s cost-prohibitive or because they feel they are familiar enough with the species to care for it and monitor its health on their own. My personal recommendation is to do annual visits if this is your first or only reptile, it’s not cost-prohibitive, or you want to adhere to ideal standards. Full disclosure- I am a retired dog/cat vet with some exotics experience, so I may have bias.
I feel like it goes without saying that you should always take an animal to the vet if you think it is ill or it’s exhibiting signs/behaviors/etc. you don’t understand or know thoroughly how to address.
Unrelated: This was an amusing way to remind myself to call my exotic specialist for an exam…
I agree with @mblaney as the ideal.
Ideally, annual checkups and definitely in the case of something wrong. Especially if this is your first/only reptile.
As a former vet tech who ended up having to do most of the handling and giving opinions to the vet on reptiles… the ideal is still a bit difficult to achieve.
The vets that I worked with were very open to learning more about basic exotic care in case of an emergency. (Also having to play surgical nurse for your own gecko’s emergency is nerve-racking!) They were also working with nearby big box stores and would see them because the local reptile specialist tends to be a wait for getting an exam. They knew I kept reptiles and took my opinion into account as well as double checking vet forums for most recent info and such. Anything we agreed was out of our wheelhouse was referred to the specialist, which thankfully would tend to get them in a bit sooner than the usual wait.
Sadly, not all vets are like that or mblaney. Some will charge extra for the exam as well as not really know much past the basic knowledge they needed for training. I’ve also worked on the pet store side and have seen some vets give some not very good advice because of outdated practices. It can take time finding a vet to trust.
Regardless, of what you decide to do, it is important for you to do the research to know who your local vet will be well BEFORE an issue comes up. You can’t just take a reptile to any vet office. Most will still only see animals like dogs, cats, sometimes rabbits and maybe guinea pigs or hamsters.
Thankfully as more people (vets included) are looking to reptiles as pets, more vets are looking to pick up specialty training for them. It’s important for keepers to keep pushing for exams to be more normalized.
If you have any reptile breeders, specialty shops or reptile shows nearby, those are great places to ask where people bring their animals.
Follow-up case in point…
The earliest appointment available for my exotic pet vet is in two weeks.
Hello @ryleigh! I worked for a vet who not only did the regular dog and cat care but she also specialized in exotics and could treat just about anything that walked through her clinic doors.
She operated on a hummingbird bird once and neutered my little pet male white mouse for me! Lol! She works with avian rescues, reptile rescues, wildlife rescues, pocket pet rescues and the list goes on and on. She is also my friend. I am spoiled because she is only 5 minutes away or a text message away.
If you can find an exotics vet as knowledgeable and experienced as Dr Clarke you would be very blessed. However all of that knowledge and training comes with a cost that is handed down to the pet owner, resulting in higher exotic exam fee costs that some people don’t want to or cannot pay.
As @armiyana said, it’s a good idea for a new reptile owner to scout around for an exotics vet before the reptile gets ill or is at death’s door, (saw that a lot at the clinic.). And imho, I think it’s a very good idea for a new reptile owner to have the animal checked out right after purchase for two reasons. The first reason is to verify the health of the animal at the time or near time of purchase, and the second reason is to establish the animal as an existing patient/client at the clinic and to establish the health history/baseline of the animal for future reference/treatment of that animal.
Thank you!! I’m not sure if our vet does exotic animals but I can check Tomorrow!
And just one more thing. If you have an animal emergency chances are you will get in more quickly if you are an established client……
Ok I am done!