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Avian & Exotics Pet Vet for Your Unique Companion


For more than 25 years, Acacia Animal Health Center has been providing highly skilled, state-of-the-art, compassionate veterinary care for birds, rabbits, pocket pets, reptiles, and wildlife. We have four veterinarians on staff with special interest in exotics, as well as a team of registered veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants with exotic animal expertise.

Avian & Exotic Animal Patients

Birds, ferrets, rabbits, reptiles, and pocket pets are welcome here. As avian experts, we provide quality care for parrots and companion aviary birds. We also work very closely with The House Rabbit Society and several other animal assist groups.

Specifically, we work with the following species:

  • All parrots, passerines, raptors
  • Rabbits
  • Reptiles: snakes, turtles, tortoises, lizards
  • Guinea pigs
  • Chinchillas
  • Rats
  • Mice
  • Hamsters
  • Hedgehogs
  • Pot-Bellied pigs

If you have any exotic pet—with the exclusion of monkeys, fish, and arachnids— contact our center to schedule an appointment.

Our Team of Experts

Dr. Gary Gallerstein is author of The Complete Bird Owner's Handbook and co-author of the manual First Aid for Birds.

Dr. Carmine Bausone combines Western veterinary medicine with extensive training and expertisein holistic veterinary medical services. Together, they have more than 50 years experience in treating avians and exotics. These extraordinary professionals head up our Avian and Exotic Team at Acacia.

Pat Mulloy, RVT, is our Avian and Exotics Nursing Supervisor. With more than 20 years experience in nursing avians and exotics, she heads up the nursing side of our team.

Debbie Fisher, MLT, heads up our diagnostic laboratory. Debbie has a strong background in exotic animal laboratory diagnostic testing. Before joining Acacia, she was the laboratory supervisor at the San Diego Safari Park for more than eight years.

A Special Wing for Special Patients

Our highly respected Avian and Exotics Team treat avian and exotic patients in a separate, specially designed wing of the hospital dedicated exclusively to the care of these special creatures. Acacia even has a separate surgical suite dedicated to our avian and exotic patients.

This unique design is critical to the psychological and environmental well-being of our bird, small mammal, and reptile patients. These patients are never housed within sight or sound of dogs or cats. They are all accommodated in their own enclosures, appropriate to their individual heat requirements. As a result, the stress level for these species is significantly minimized while in the hospital or while boarding in our resort.

Avian & Exotic Patients: Full Services Available

We offer the same full range of state-of-the-art services to our avian and exotic patients that we do to our dog and cat patients: exams by highly qualified veterinarians, diagnostic laboratory testing , radiographs, specialized surgery utilizing Sevoflourane gas anesthesia and laser surgery as well as laser pain management, animal chiropractic care, holistic treatments, and acupuncture.

In addition, some specialized services also include:

  • Avian grooming
  • Avian behavior consults
  • Endoscopy
  • DNA blood sexing for birds
  • Rabbit and rodent tooth trims
  • Pig hoof and tusk trims

Signs of Illness in Exotic Species

By their very nature, exotic species are not domesticated. As a result, they are very good at masking signs of illness until they are critically ill. Early signs are very subtle. As a responsible owner, it is important that you take your beloved pet to the veterinarian at least once a year for a wellness evaluation.

The veterinarian entrusted with care of your pet should be well versed in exotic animal care including nutrition, husbandry, body language, and diseases and their treatments. Acacia offers four veterinarians very experienced in these areas. Our nursing staff is also very experienced at reading body language and symptoms of illness and providing supportive care for critically ill patients.

As an exotic pet owner, it is important that you provide the proper husbandry, which includes proper caging, nutritious and balanced diets, and the appropriate environmental temperatures.

The most important thing you can do for your pet is to become familiar with what is normal—in other words, how your pet should look, feel, and behave. Handling your pet frequently will help a lot in this regard. Signs of illness in exotics are frequently quite subtle. Once you know what is normal for your bird, it will be easier to recognize signs of sickness and disease.

If your bird is ill, our staff is excellent at teaching you how to administer these treatments. Learn more about nursing a sick bird.

Signs of Illness in Exotic Pets

Changes in Activity (personality or behavior):

Changes in Appearance

  • Ruffled feathers
  • Unkempt fur
  • Weakness, not perching (birds)
  • Unable to stand, wobbly when moving
  • Bleeding (dried blood on skin, fur, or feathers, as well as active bleeding) and injuries
  • Convulsions
  • Distended abdomen

Changes in appearance as related to specific health problems include the following:

Changes in Weight

Sickness is often accompanied by weight loss; however, every so often a tumor or fluid accumulation in the body will cause weight gain. A gram scale, purchased at an office supply store, is ideal since it’s much more accurate than weighing a small animal in ounces. Learn about Egg Binding.

Breathing Problems

Noisy breathing—Wheezing, constant panting, or “clicking” sounds
Heavy breathing—Shortness of breath, open-mouth breathing, tail bobbing (pronounced up-and-down motion of the tail in birds)
Nasal and ocular discharge—Area around the eyes swollen
Loss of voice

Digestive Problems

Diarrhea (specifically loose stool), may contain blood, mucus, or undigested food
Straining to eliminate

Musculoskeletal Problems

“Droopy” wings (in birds)
Change in posture

Eye Problems

Eyelids swollen or “pasted” closed
Increased blinking
Discharge, including excessive tearing
Cloudiness of eyeball
Rubbing eye or side of face

Skin Problems

Any lumps or bumps
Excessive flaking of skin or beak
Overgrown beak or nails
Loss of fur

Feather Problems in Birds

Prolonged molt
Picking at or chewing feathers
Broken, twisted, crushed, or deformed feathers

Change in Food or Water Intake

Most sick animals will eat and drink less; weight loss and dehydration are common. Some diseases, such as diabetes, are exceptions and cause an increase in food and water consumed.

Changes in Droppings

Any variation in the number, consistency, or color