Pet Owners

The Sad Reality of an “Easter “ Bunny

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Story by Dawn Sailer

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Easter is a very challenging time of the year for companion rabbit lovers and animal welfare advocates (  Each year the market is flooded with cute, fuzzy baby “Easter” bunnies.  And each year when the rabbits hit sexual maturity approximately 2-3 months later, disillusioned rabbit owners surrender their rabbits to animal shelters.  

Rabbits are the third most commonly surrendered animal to US shelters (  Each year, rescue groups ( work tirelessly to save “the Easter Dump” rabbits. 

If you see a cute baby “Easter” bunny, please consult the “Make Mine Chocolate” website ( to see if a rabbit is the right pet for you.  If a rabbit is a good fit for your family, please obtain a rabbit from a shelter or rescue organization (same url as above).

World Spay Day

According to the Human Society, February 27th is officially World Spay Day. (Check out more about the campaign and ways you can help HERE.) 
Did you  know spaying  and neutering can be an important part of your exotic pets health as well?
For example, female rabbits have a high risk of uterine cancer if not spayed.  Some male exotic pets get along better when neutered.  Even reptiles can benefit: many female chameleons and bearded dragons suffer from reproductive disease which can be deadly. Spayed guinea pigs are free from debilitating ovarian cysts which are common as they age.
While spaying and neutering exotics is now considered routine, there is always some risk.
Here is what we do to keep stress and surgical risk as low as possible: 
-Part of the pre-surgical medication includes drugs to reduce fear and anxiety
-We offer preanesthetic blood work to check for signs of infection, anemia, and to check organ function
-When practical, we place an IV (or IO) catheter to give fluids during surgery, and allow quick administration of emergency drugs, in rare cases where CPR is necessary.
-Every patient receives at least 3 kinds of medication for discomfort, including a local block of the surgical site.  Many take additional medication home in case it's needed.
-We focus on surgical approaches that reduce post-op pain and speed recovery, for example, a flank or side approach for spay instead of a larger abdominal incision.
-Our team includes a dedicated recovery nurse monitoring the patient immediately after surgery, up until the patient is ready to go home
-We encourage patients to bring some of the comforts of home along, including familiar bedding, toys and treats-in some cases, a bonded cage mate can come along, too!

Sara's letter from Vet School


Hi there! My name is Sara (and this is my hamster, Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All). The last time I wrote, I was just starting my undergrad career at Purdue University with a major of Animal Sciences. Today, I am a second year student in the vet school here at Purdue. I can’t believe it has been almost 6 years since I first wrote “So you think you want to be a vet?”      As I reflect on my journey to vet school, I want to take a moment to thank all those who taught me invaluable lessons about hard work and discipline. Many thanks to the veterinarians who allowed me to spend time in their clinics and to my coworkers who helped me transform from a clueless high schooler to a slightly less clueless (but always confused) vet student! ?

     The journey has not been an easy one, and vet school certainly isn’t a walk in the park, but they say that if you love what you do then it isn’t work. Ever since I was little my mom used to say, “you should wake up every day and love your job.” That isn’t to say that there will never be difficult days or times when you don’t love your job, but I encourage you to find a career that is rewarding, if not always enjoyable. Don’t discount your abilities and the good you could bring to the world, even if it’s just in the lives of those you work with!

     To those wanting to go to vet school, I won’t lie. Vet school is hard. I’m always tired, never feel entirely ready for exams, and constantly wonder how I’m ever going to remember it all. But then I have an exciting moment when I hear someone in the medical profession talk about a topic and it’s suddenly not gibberish to me anymore.

     It also helps to keep things in perspective. I try my best in school but at the end of the day I know that there is so much more to life and I know that I will be okay even if I get a C on a test (not speaking from experience or anything…).

     Yes, I’m a vet student but I’m also Sara. I love playing instruments, drinking tea, and watching movies with my sisters. I am terrible at board games and pretty much anything competitive, but I love having game nights with my roommates and friends. My newest addictions are animal crackers, Agatha Christie novels, and “The Great British Bake Off.”

     Work hard on your journey to vet school but don’t forget to enjoy it along the way. When I was younger I used to think that I will have succeeded in life once I got to vet school, almost as if my life wouldn’t truly begin until I got there. That is dangerous and false thinking. Your life is happening now. Don’t forget to appreciate the amazing people and things you already have! Your career will just be a bonus on top of that.

     As always, my best to you and your endeavors. Good luck, and remember:

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Winter Emergency Planning Tips


Thankfully we are through the polar vortex and heavy snow of last week! Unfortunately, it looks like temperatures will soon be dropping again, though. If you don't have one in place, now is the time to be sure your bad weather/power outage plan is ready! Many exotics pets do not tolerate temperature decreases well, especially tropical reptiles and small birds such as finches (especially the Gouldian finch). So, before the next cold snap, be sure you have the following:

  • A backup source of heat, such as a generator or wood-burning heat source, with proper ventilation to protect pets from fumes
  • An alternative backup location (boarding facility/hotel/friends' homes) that will temporarily house your pets if you have to leave the house
  • A labeled, safe and secure carrier for each and every pet for transport
  • A travel container with pet foods, bowls and medications
  • Portable chemical heaters (for camping, hunting or cold weather sporting events) that can be placed close enough to provide warmth, but protected from chewing and puncturing.

Call us for advice and emergencies, should the need arise.

We wish you a safe and warm winter season!  We will update you with what to do when the weather is too HOT in about 6 months!


“You! In here!” Be sure cages for emergency evacuation are clean, safe and secure.

Traveling tips for cold weather!


While it’s best to travel with exotic pets when the weather is nice, lots of our patients still have to come to see us when it’s not so great!  A few precautions can help make cold weather travel safer and more comfortable. 1. Warm up the car first.

2. Use a travel warmer under the cage or under a blanket in the cage. These can be chemical warmers you can find at stores selling outdoor equipment, or something as simple as a sock filled with rice heated in the microwave, or a microwaved potato!  With chemical warmers, be sure the pet can’t find it and chew it up during the trip.  We will be happy to re-microwave your rice or potato for you for the trip home.

3. Cover the cage with a warm blanket for the short walk from the house-car and car-clinic.

4. Don’t forget to buckle up-you and your pet!  We highly recommend pets travel in a secure carrier that is secured with a seat belt. This will help protect the pet and passengers in case of an accident.
















Case Study: Moondance the Pig


The internet is absolutely overflowing with cute pictures and videos of odd couple animals who get along well and really seem to enjoy each other's company. While this can be adorable, it can be really dangerous as well, especially for our exotics! Many would be considered prey species for traditional pets, like dogs and cats, and this can make interactions between the two risky. While some combinations appear to tolerate each other well, others can be deadly. We regularly treat cat and dog bite injuries to rabbits, rodents, birds and even reptiles. Moondance's case shows some of the worst of what can happen. In this instance, it was an unfortunate accident that the pig and dog were together and was never intended. Luckily for Moondance, his owners were able to intervene quickly! Unfortunately, injuries to his head were so severe that he ended up losing his right ear.

While injuries can happen when any pets get together, it’s especially risky when predators such as dogs, cats (and even ferrets) meet prey species. Even the behavior of pets that appeared to get along in the past can change very quickly. Always exercise care, and when you are not sure, be there to supervise!


Update #3 on Red Ryder

Quick recap: Miss Red was found outside with BB gun wounds and was taken in by the good folks at Indiana House Rabbit Society. We were able to safely remove two of the BBs, but the other two were in dangerous areas and we needed more information before attempting to remove them. Red Ryder was taken for an ultrasound.











WARNING- the surgical image below may be disturbing to some. This image shows the BB (gold in color)  being removed from Ryder's shoulder.

The 4th BB is located in her neck, near the carotid artery and the trachea; that one will stay there unless there is evidence it's beginning to cause a problem.

"Red Ryder is doing great after her latest surgery. In fact, she’s actually doing better. She’s more active, her appetite is better, and she’s chewing up all her toys. She tried a green bean (treat) for the first time today and was so unimpressed that she gave me a dirty look and turned her butt to it. She doesn’t act like she was dumped outside and shot at. Ryder is completely comfortable being in a home setting, around all sorts of other animals, including big dogs and cats. She’s friendly and doesn’t get frightened by things going on around her." - Sarah Dehn, current foster mom
The Indiana House Rabbit Society has a Go Fund Me page set up for Red Ryder's medical care, and for the medical needs of any other foster bunnies the IHR is currently caring for. You can donate here.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

And for our final story of 2018, we present the tale of a bunny with a rough start to life.  This story might be hard to read, and even make you angry, but it has a hopeful ending.
This little rabbit was found outdoors a few days ago and turned into the clinic on behalf of our friends at the Indiana House Rabbit Society.  The Good Samaritans who found her saw some interesting wounds that looked suspicious. A quick radiograph of the patient resting in a standing position showed this: a total of 5 round shot pieces (you can easily see 4 of them, and the fourth right over her nose).
Other than that, our bunny appeared in good weight, was calm and very sweet tempered. House Rabbit has decided to call her "Red Ryder" for the BB gun featured in "A Christmas Story". We love her name, despite the circumstances; it shows she is strong and will survive! (Sometimes you need a little humor to help get through the tragedy). She'll be spayed next week, and her wounds cared for; after that, she's ready for adoption through Indiana House Rabbit Society!
We wish you a wonderful, safe, and healthy 2019.

The End of Another Year-for Wildlife!


It’s been another busy wildlife season…actually we are not sure we’ve ever had a slow wildlife season.  We are thankful for our licensed wildlife partners who take the injured birds, mammals and reptiles we’ve treated and nurse them back to health for eventual release.  Every year we ask the Hatton’s at “For the Birds of Indiana” how many birds they listed on their formal reports to the Department of Natural Resources-this year it was 606.  They also would like to mention another 170 birds who are unreported-these are likely pigeons and starlings who are not federally protected and aren’t recorded.   That’s a total of 776 mouths to feed! For more information on For the Birds of Indiana, go here:

There is no federal funds to support licensed wildlife rehabilitators; many rely on donations and private funds.  

Thank you to all who took time out of their busy schedule to bring injured and orphaned wildlife to us for help, our licensed rehabilitators, and our donors.

A Merry Christmas Surprise

Yesterday an owner surrendered a very "fat" young female rat with a broken leg; the owners could not afford care for her.  She was surrendered to one of our great rescues, Pipsqueakery, but set up for the night at the clinic for amputation of the lower part of her leg in the morning, as it couldn't be easily repaired.
One hour later we found this!

We nicknamed the wee babies  Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen, oh and then Rudolph. But wait! There was one more!  That one became Nicholas of course.
This morning mom had a quick surgery to remove the broken portion of the leg. 

Interested in adopting one of the Christmas babes?  You can keep the name or change it if you would like!  Go here and learn more about the adoption process: 
Merry Christmas early!

Should I consider essential oils for my exotic pets?


Essential oils are marketed for both humans and pets, in particular dogs and cats. In particular, some products are touted as natural alternatives to synthetic tick and flea medications. There are actually some scientific studies on the use of these products in pets, and some new studies coming out on the use of essential oils for mites in chickens. In some cases, carefully dosing of particular essential oils appeared to kill some parasites but these were tested on mites in a laboratory, and not actually applied to the hens. For now, a proven safe, effective dose is unknown, despite internet recommendations based on trial and error. On the other hand, emergency veterinarians are seeing increasing numbers of pets injured or even killed by essential oils. (See:

In this report, 3 of 44 animals died; side effects included mostly hypersalivation and agitation in cats and lethargy and vomiting in dogs.

This is despite the fact that oils are “natural” products. Even natural products can be toxic, especially at higher dosages.

If essential oils interest you, research as carefully as possible, and ask advice from a veterinarian with experience in their use. If there is no scientific evidence on safety and efficacy, we really can’t recommend their use.

We are keeping a close watch on the latest research, and will share what we learn!

Getting ready for the Holidays at Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic!


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday, November 22 and 23 (not that Black Friday is really a holiday!).  We will reopen on Saturday the 24th.  

Speaking of Black Friday, need Christmas gift ideas for your exotic pet?  Come and see what fun toys and treats are available, courtesy of our many wonderful rescues.  All proceeds benefit great organizations, like EARPS and the Indiana House Rabbit Association.

Speaking of Christmas, we close at 1 PM on Christmas eve, then reopen Thursday, December 27th.

Check the website for instructions on how to contact us in case of an emergency with your exotic pet during the holidays. Go to:; see the Quick Link: Emergency Care link on the right side.

Hello from the lobby of the beautiful new Oxbow Animal Health facility in Nebraska!


Dr. Lennox got the chance to see behind the scenes where hay is carefully sifted and packed, and ideas for new products are developed.  One thing we learned was that Oxbow regularly contributes products and funds to deserving exotic mammal rescues and foster networks.  If you know a rescue that could benefit from Oxbow's support, applications for 2019 will be available early next year.

Go here to learn more -


With the holidays approaching, don't forget about our local central Indiana rescues!   Contact us, and we will connect you!

Highlights from ExoticsCon 2018

The largest all exotics conference of the year is ExoticsCon, where avian, reptile and mammal veterinarians from all over the world come together to share and learn.  Dr. Lewis spent several days there in Atlanta and brought back a lot of great information on new diagnostic tests, treatments, and procedures.
One highlight is the Oxbow Exotic Mammal Health Award, and this year's winner was our good friend and colleague Dr. Thomas Donnelly. Some of you might have met him when he visited us in the summer.  We are proud to know and learn from him!
Read more about Dr. Donnelly's award here!

From Trash to Treasure: One Beautiful Bird’s Story


From Meg, EARPS volunteer:   On Saturday, August 18, a good Samaritan reached out to EARPS. They had heard a noise in the dumpster by their apartment, and upon investigating, found a bird chewing its way out of a box. When they got the box out of the dumpster and opened it, the bird inside was wrapped in a cloth and was dirty and smelled bad. The good Samaritan called around until someone referred them to EARPS, as no one was quite sure what to do with this bird!

The finders told EARPS that she had "upper respiratory symptoms and her beak was overgrown, and she has poop stuck to her butt" and so EARPS decided to take her into rescue as an emergency. But then when EARPS picked up the bird, that wasn't the case. She had a very visible prolapse and was caked in feces and urates on her bottom half. The finders, although very kind, had no knowledge about birds and weren't aware of how severe this condition could have been.

When EARPS brought her home to a temporary foster, she ate every single thing handed to her - vegetables, fruits, pellets, seeds. human junk food! She ate for nearly 24 hours straight, even eating while they covered her cage up for the night.  EARPS took her to AEAC first thing Monday morning.

Our bird is doing very well now!  We found she is a mature female, with some evidence of reproductive disease, and we are taking steps to get her well and ready for a permanent home.

Meet our newest staff members!


Our newest technician is Amanda Long.

Amanda graduated in May 2018 from Macomb Community  College's Veterinary Technician Program in Macomb, Michigan. She has been working in veterinary practice for 3.5 years total, with 1 year in exotic medicine. She has two crazy dogs, a border collie named Cisco and a chow chow mix named Koda. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and kayaking.  




Our newest Client Care Team member is Vanessa Shockley.

You may not see Vanessa, but you might hear her voice, helping our clients on the phone.

Hi! My name is Vanessa. I am 51 years young and a proud mom of two girls and grandma of three grandchildren. I have 20 years of customer service, and I just love work here at the Avian & Exotic Animal Clinic. My motto - Keep pushing forward, as God is in control. Peace, love, and happiness! 



Our newest Boarding Assistant is Sadah Robinson.

Sadah has always been a wildlife warrior. Hoping to one day travel the world in the name of conservation and the greater good of the environment, she takes the time to learn about both domestic and wild animals. Sadah is currently enrolled in college classes at Ivy Tech Indianapolis and is the oldest in a house of 3 other siblings. Her hope is to one day use her studies and talents to open an animal sanctuary to enlighten children both the wonders and dangers of certain animals. You can usually find Sadah in the woods camping, playing her guitar!



Our newest Technician Assistant is Brianna Manns.

After completing her externship with us, Brianna graduated from the Vet Tech Institute in August of 2018 and promptly joined our team! She enjoys the variety of species seen here at the clinic and has a particular fondness for reptiles, birds and wildlife. At home, Brianna has a chihuahua named Tater Tot, two cats Jesse and Leo, a leopard gecko named Rin, a blue-tongued skink named Ryuuk, and a beardie named Kota. In her spare time, Brianna enjoys reading and walking nature trails.

A visit to an exotic veterinary practice in Paris


In August Dr. Lennox traveled to the annual meeting of the European College of Zoological Medicine ( in Athens, Greece; on the way she stopped to visit a colleague’s veterinary clinic in Paris. Dr. JF Quinton was gracious enough to give a tour of the beautiful new veterinary facility - Dr. Quinton runs the exotics section of the hospital.  The clinic is very large, beautiful and impressive. And what kinds of patients does Dr. Quinton see on a daily basis?  In the clinic were a handful of rabbits, a turtle, and this lovely little pet chicken!  It was good to learn that pet chickens are becoming more and more popular all over the world!

World Rabies Awareness Day is September 28th!


While human deaths from rabies are rare in the US and much of the developed world, it’s still a huge problem in developing countries, with children the primary victims.Vaccination of pets (dogs, cats and FERRETS) is a huge contributor to rabies management. Learn more here at

Vaccination of ferrets for rabies is required in Indiana, and much of the US.  There is a single approved rabies vaccine for ferrets-call us if you need more information.

Can you name some of the most famous rabies victims in literature and the movies?  See how many of these you remember:

“Old Yeller”, in the 1957 Disney movie of the same name “Mad Dog” in the famous book/movie “ To Kill a Mockingbird” “Cujo” in Stephen King’s 1981 book/movie of the same name Elaine, a popular character in the TV series “Seinfeld” season 5 episode 3 (she doesn’t really have it!)

For more, go to this link on rabies in popular culture:

Congratulations to Jack Bennet


AEAC is proud to announce the certification of another of our Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic family; after graduating  and now passing his licensing test, Jack is officially a registered veterinary technician.  This brings the number of our registered veterinary technicians to 7. If you aren’t familiar with the term, registered veterinary technicians are skilled professionals who work alongside veterinarians playing an important nursing role.  In fact, there is a national effort to change their title from veterinary technician to veterinary nurse, as this more accurately describes their role within the veterinary clinic.


Congratulate Jack the next time you see him - it will be easy to pick him out! (See our staff page!)