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How to Locate a Good Reptile Vet

A lot of people ask me for advice on medical problems that are best left to a qualified reptile veterinarian. Sounds easy right? Well, think again, all "reptile vets" are not created equal.

Many dog and cat vets will see reptiles. Don't be fooled. Truly great "Normal" dog and cat vets may see one or two iguanas a year. They might read some of the literature but it is in your pet's best interest to see a vet that sees more than a few reptiles a year. It's too bad people don't bring their herps in once a year like they do with dogs and cats. If they did maybe more vets would take a more active interest in learning more about how to treat them when they are ill.

So what can you do to ensure your pet is treated correctly for whatever ails him? You have the power to shop around, ask around, and ask questions when you actually see the vet.

The internet is a great source of information. Yes, there is a lot of garbage online too, but you can sift through and find a wealth of information. There are several listings of herp vets online. You still need to exercise caution using the lists as these vets have to undergo NO formal training to qualify as herp vets. Most of the listings online are simply recommendations from other reptile owners. They have seen such and such a vet and had one or more good experiences with them. A great source for this type of list is www.herpvetconnection.com. This is a listing site made up completely of recommended vets. Melissa Kaplan keeps a site at www.anapsid.org also.

The ARAV (Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians) has a listing online. Please note that the ARAV can be joined by anyone including people who are not vets. Membership to the ARAV does NOT guarantee that these vets have seen many reptiles or know much about them in general. What it does show is an interest in reptiles and amphibians at the very least. www.arav.org.

Herpetological Societies or Reptile Clubs in your area are excellent sources of info on local vets. People there will be able to steer you towards a vet they have had good experience with. Melissa Kaplan keeps a listing of societies by state and some in other countries at www.anapsid.org.

When you visit the vet for the first time it is a good idea to ask how many reptiles, iguanas, geckos etc. he/she sees. Ask questions that you already know the correct answers to. You can easily get a feel for how qualified the vet is by doing this. If his/her answers are not the ones you are expecting or it sounds like old incorrect information you should probably find a new vet. Go ahead and question procedures, treatments and choices of medications. If the vet doesn't appear to want to answer your questions find a new one. It is their job to explain what is happening. If they won't, perhaps they can't.

I don't mean to sound negative here but I have had some interesting vet experiences myself. There ARE qualified vets out there; you just have to do some work to find them.



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