A hedgehog eating food.

At Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital, advocating for pets is what we do best. While dogs and cats are our speciality, we believe that all animals deserve the best care possible. Many pet parents fall short when it comes to feeding exotic pets. Read on to better understand exotic pet nutrition and how it impacts your pet’s health. 

Special Dietary Needs of Exotic Pets

Balanced diets for exotic pets may not seem like rocket science, but there is a little more than meets the eye to feeding these special species.

Exotic pets are basically defined as anything that isn’t a cat, dog, or farm animal. As you can imagine when you take a group that includes anything from a ferret to a bearded dragon to a parakeet, needs can vary wildly. Nutrition is species specific and the differences can be quite astounding.

Before taking on a non-traditional pet, do your research and learn what kind of special dietary needs and husbandry care your species of choice might need. 

Of course, you can contact us as a resource, but there are also some great resources online. Some of our favorites include:

You Are What You Eat 

Improper nutrition is one of the most common causes of illness and disease in exotic pet species. Some of the more common manifestations of not feeding appropriately include:

  • Calcium disorders: Green iguanas and other reptiles can experience metabolic bone disease due to imbalance of calcium and phosphorus and/or vitamin D deficiency. African Grey Parrots can have seizure disorders due to low calcium and sugar gliders may have hind leg paralysis if there is not enough and well-balanced calcium in their diets. 
  • Vitamin A deficiency: Box turtles can experience infections and eye and ear problems due to not enough vitamin A, while Amazon parrots experience changes in the lining of their mouth and throat, which leads to illness.
  • Vitamin C deficiency: Some species like Guinea pigs rely on external sources of vitamin C. Without enough, they can develop scurvy. 
  • Dental problems: Pets with teeth that continue to grow such as rabbits rely on large amounts of roughage to keep them from becoming overgrown. 
  • Obesity: Improper diet can lead to a pet becoming overweight. Hedgehogs, for instance, are insectivores that are often fed cat food, which is too high in fat for them. 

As doctors, we love problems that have easy ways to be prevented. Exotic pet owners can have a huge impact on their pets of choice by understanding the special dietary needs of exotic pets. Call or Text: (732) 531‑1212 to learn more.