Pets come in all shapes and sizes. We welcome all exotic species and are happy to help you care for your reptiles, birds and small exotic mammals. Our team is highly trained. You can rest assured that your pet is in good hands.

When is it time to ask Briar Patch to help you care for your exotic pet, rather than going it alone?
⦁ A change in the pet’s eating or bathroom habits, even if subtle
⦁ The pet is newly acquired
⦁ Annual check-ups and screenings
⦁ Injuries
⦁ Obvious signs of illness
⦁ Uncertainty about diet or housing

The information below provides very brief husbandry guidelines for your pet’s care and signs of illness. This information is not comprehensive and is not intended to substitute for hands-on medical care. Please give us a call or request an appointment here anytime you have concerns.


⦁ Provide sufficient space to sleep, go to the bathroom and spend time on enriching activities throughout the day.
⦁ Consider supervised time outside their cage or an additional secured pen in which they can spend supervised time.
⦁ Enclosure should have adequate ventilation to prevent build-up of waste products and prevent overheating.
⦁ All pets should have a hide box, pouch or nesting area where they can feel safe.
⦁ Clean waste material from the cage daily, with deeper cleaning recommended every 1-2 weeks.
⦁ Be sure to provide appropriate enrichment for your pet to help mimic natural behaviors and provide mental stimulation.

⦁ Guinea pigs, chinchillas, and rodents are primarily herbivores.
⦁ Ferrets and hedgehogs are primarily carnivores.
⦁ Diet is one of the most important aspects of keeping your pet healthy and will be discussed in detail at your initial appointment.

Common Medical Issues
⦁ Chinchillas, rabbits and guinea pigs are prone to dental disease and should be evaluated right away for drooling, pawing at the mouth or decreased food consumption. A sedated oral exam and x-rays might be recommended.
⦁ Rabbits and guinea pigs are susceptible to gastric stasis or intestinal impactions that may require medical management or surgery.
⦁ Ferrets, rats and mice commonly develop tumors, some of which are benign while others require surgical intervention.
⦁ Most small mammals are prone to external parasites that can cause severe itching.
⦁ Small mammals are also susceptible to some of the common diseases we see in dogs and cats such as respiratory, urinary and ear infections.
⦁ Some signs of disease might be obvious, but all you may notice is a decrease in appetite and energy. It is important to call us or schedule an appointment if you note any change is your pet’s normal routine.


⦁ Appropriately sized aquarium tank with a ventilated top.
⦁ Be sure to research whether your reptile is more terrestrial, aquatic or arboreal.
⦁ Provide a cool resting place and a warm basking area. Temperature and humidity in both the cool and warm sides of the enclosure should be tightly regulated with measuring devices.
⦁ Substrate and feeding should be appropriate to prevent impactions.
⦁ Provide a place for them to hide and make a nest/home.
⦁ Some reptiles require a pool for bathing, while others prefer misting of their habitat.
⦁ If using real plants be sure to choose ones that will not be toxic if ingested.
⦁ Most reptiles require a full spectrum UVA and UVB light. These should be replaced about every 6 months.
⦁ Basking lamps should be outside the enclosure. Heating rocks/pads should be avoided as they can lead to thermal burns.

⦁ Research if your pet is herbivorous or carnivorous and the best way to provide a fresh and nutritious diet.
⦁ Diet will be discussed in detail at your appointment, tailored to each species.

Common Medical Issues
⦁ Reptiles can have problems shedding if the temperature and humidity are not adequate in their environment. Retained spectacles, respiratory issues, infections, and limb strangulation can occur with improper shedding.
⦁ Dietary imbalances, improper substrate and parasites can lead to constipation, impaction or diarrhea which can become life threatening.
⦁ Thermal burns can be deceivingly deep and could lead to systemic infection if not treated appropriately and quickly.
⦁ Fungal infections, abscesses and oral health issues are also seen in reptiles.
⦁ If you notice any change in your pet’s normal routine or habits please schedule an appointment to be seen.


⦁ House in an enclosure with adequate ventilation, room to stretch their wings and fly about.
⦁ Provide appropriately sized and varied perches, toys and enrichment activities.
⦁ Time outside the cage for certain birds should be supervised so they do not get into things or fly away. Regular wing trimming can help ensure that they do not fly away while allowing them to safely glide to the floor if they should fall from a high perch.
⦁ Birds’ respiratory systems are very sensitive to smells – candles, incense, smoking and cooking should be avoided around them.

⦁ A well-balanced diet is very important for overall health, immune function and prevention of certain diseases. All-seed diets lack sufficient vitamin A.
⦁ Different bird species require different diets or ratios of pellets, seeds, fruits and veggies. Some also require additional protein sources like insects and other prey.
⦁ Diet is one of the most important aspects of keeping your pet healthy and will be discussed in detail at your initial appointment.

Common Medical Issues
⦁ Birds can be stoic, hiding signs of illness until things are very serious. It is important to pay attention to small changes in daily habits, appetite and stools/urates.
⦁ Changes to stool/urate color and consistency can be a marker for liver disease, kidney disease, malabsorptive/maldigestive gastrointestinal disease, dysbiosis or intestinal parasites, among other things. If you’ve noticed a change, please bring a sample collected over 24-48 hours in order to submit a sufficient quantity for analysis.
⦁ Diets deficiencies can lead to problems with the skin, feathers, beak, eyes, reproductive and overall health.
⦁ Birds are very sensitive to respiratory irritants. Respiratory disease can appear mild, but rapidly progress to life-threatening. It is very important to have your pet evaluated if they are having even mild signs. Things to look for include sneezing, coughing, increased respiratory rate, discharge from the eyes or nose/cere.
⦁ Female egg binding can be a serious problem if her body is depleted of calcium.
⦁ If you notice your bird consistently holding up a leg or having difficulty perching they should be seen for possible bumble foot, gout or kidney disease.
⦁ Traumatic injuries from their cages or cage-mates may require attention.
⦁ If your bird is fluffed and sitting at the bottom of the cage please seek immediate emergency veterinary attention!!