Care & Keeping:
Why your cat or dog vet is probably not whom you want to see with your sick herp...
Herp veterinarians are different from other veterinarians in that they specifically sought out additional training to learn far more about reptile and amphibian medicine than is covered in the usual veterinary school curriculum.
Many people--including many medical doctors--seem to think that veterinary medicine is easier, somehow, than human medicine. After all, just look at how complex the human body is! What such people forget is that a veterinarian doesn't just learn about one single species. In the course of their study in veterinary medical school, they learn about cats, dogs, rabbits, cows, horses, birds, and pigs and a few other species that make up the bulk of the food, farm and companion animal species.
Exotic animals--including fish, amphibians, reptiles, and all the other kinds of birds and mammals, and invertebrates such as tarantulas and scorpions--are given just a week or so in the total curriculum. To learn more about these other species, vets who would become reptile specialists seek out the relatively few veterinary medical schools where there are other herp specialists teaching and where they can get a lot of hands-on experience. The same goes for when they graduate and look for their first jobs.
In the past decade, there has been an increasing number of vets learning herp vet medicine. A professional association was formed that has fostered teaching continued learning through journals and conferences. Finally, some enterprising vets early on utilized the power of the Internet and developed online forums for vets where they can meet to exchange ideas and consult with one another when they have questions and problems. Herp medicine has come a long way. The pity is that more herp owners don't take their sick and injured herps to the vet when they should.
else should you see a herp vet?
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