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Exotics: What we do

Rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, hamsters, gerbils, parrots, birds of prey, snakes, lizards, tortoises, frogs, aquarium fish and backyard poultry...

Rabbits & Avian/Exotic Pets

In the veterinary profession, the term “exotics” includes any species which is not a dog, cat, horse or farm animal and includes rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, hamsters, gerbils, parrots, birds of prey, snakes, lizards, tortoises, frogs, aquarium fish and backyard poultry for example – even though some of these species may not sound particularly exotic!

  • Our 1st opinion GP vets in our Gabalfa, Caerphilly, Pentyrch and Ystrad Mynach branches are happy to see rabbits and small mammals on a routine and 1st opinion basis, although these branches do not have dedicated hospitalisation facilities for exotics, or staff with additional qualifications in the veterinary care of these species
  • If your pet is registered at one of these branches, your vet may recommend referral to our dedicated exotics service, Valley Exotics, at Valley Veterinary Hospital in Gwaelod-Y-Garth
  • This is especially likely if your pet becomes unwell and requires diagnostic testing or more complex treatment than what can be offered in branch
  • Rabbits and small mammals can also be registered directly with Valley Exotics at Valley Veterinary Hospital for routine and 1st opinion treatment
  • All avian, reptile, amphibian, fish, invertebrate and more exotic small mammal patients are only seen by Valley Exotics at Valley Veterinary Hospital.
  • Our 24/7 emergency vets based at Valley Veterinary Hospital aim to provide first aid and emergency treatment to any species
  • We strongly recommend pet insurance for all exotic pets

Recommended Routine Treatments for Exotics

  • We recommend all exotics receive a health check by a vet at least once a year
  • We recommend that pet birds and reptiles have a blood test annually as part of an “MOT” to ensure that they are in good health
  • We recommend that rabbits are vaccinated against myxomatosis, rabbit haemorrhagic disease-1 and rabbit haemorrhagic disease-2 annually. This requires two vaccines, given two weeks apart
  • We recommend that rabbits housed outdoors, or partly outdoors are treated preventatively for fly strike each spring
  • We recommend that ferrets are vaccinated annually against distemper
  • We recommend that all neutered ferrets receive an implant regularly to minimise the risk of adrenal disease. There are different options, please consult a vet for further information.
  • We recommend that tortoises going into hibernation are given a health check by a vet a few weeks before this is planned, in the Autumn
  • We recommend that backyard chickens are checked for worms, or routinely wormed every 3 months
  • We recommend a faecal screen from reptiles and birds housed outdoors twice a year, to decide whether worming is necessary
  • We recommend that rabbits are neutered, to minimise the risk of unwanted litters, hormonal behaviours and cancer, especially to prevent uterine cancer in females
  • We recommend microchipping for exotic pets in case of escape

Valley Exotics

  • Our dedicated exotics service Valley Exotics is based at Valley Veterinary Hospital in Gwaelod y Garth
  • Valley Exotics have a range of facilities specifically for rabbits and avian/exotic pets, including dedicated wards for birds and reptiles, small mammals and exotic isolation cases
  • A separate upstairs waiting area away from barking dogs minimises stress in what are often prey species
  • A separate ward for wildlife means that these animals are kept completely separate from exotic pets
  • The small mammal ward in the exotic department features walk in kennels for rabbit inpatients as well as smaller kennels, for when more space is likely to be beneficial
  • The exotic department also features a dedicated preparation room and operating theatre for rabbits and avian/exotic animals
  • We have a fully stocked pharmacy with drugs for exotic patients, including avian and reptile patients
  • We have x-ray, ultrasound, endoscopy and CT and are able to perform a variety of laboratory tests in-house.
  • Valley Exotics is led by Dr Tariq Abou-Zahr BVSc CertAVP (ZooMed) MRCVS a certificate holder and residency trained clinician in zoological medicine (aka exotic animal medicine).
  • Valley Exotics has been awarded Gold status by the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund. We are very proud to have been the first practice in Wales to achieve this accolade  
  • Tariq is a member of the AAV (the Association of Avian Veterinarians), ARAV (the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians) and AEMV (the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians) as well as the British Veterinary Zoological Society (BVZS).
  • The team at Valley Exotics are happy to see referral cases from other veterinary practices – this can be organised by your vet. 
  • Hospitalised inpatients are looked after overnight by our 24-7 emergency vets, who follow plans put in place by the exotic team