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Exotic pets go under the spotlight at BVNA Congress
A staggering 75 per cent of reptiles die within their first year.
Danielle Beck speaks on the sustainability of keeping reptiles as pets.

The long-term sustainability of exotic animals as pets went under the spotlight on Saturday (2 October) at the BVNA Congress in Telford.

In keeping with this year’s theme of sustainability, clinical animal behaviourist Danielle Beck delivered a thought-provoking presentation on reptile welfare and husbandry in the context of their long-term sustainability as companion animals.

Danielle began by explaining that what makes reptiles different to domestic animals is that they're entirety controlled by their environment. "If we don't set them up in the most basic way, ensuring they have the right temperature, the right kind of lighting, the right kind of diet then we can greatly harm them,” she said.

But while an exotic animal's needs may be different to that of cats or dogs, it does not mean they are impossible to look after. Danielle explained that in the right hands, many reptile species live long and fulfilling lives. A staggering 75 per cent of reptiles, however, die within their first year.

According to Danielle, the biggest issue for the sustainability and welfare of reptiless lie in their breeding, capture and transportation for the pet market. She stressed that education is key to increasing welfare and sustainability, but that the trade is still in question.

“When it comes to sustainably, we need to be looking further up the chain than just somebody's pet at home," she said. "It's not sustainable to just have the animal alive and breeding from it. We need to allow these animals to live and have the freedom to express normal behaviour.”

Danielle shared some simple enrichment ideas that reptiles keepers can introduce to improve the welfare of their animals, including:

  • building levels in the environment to create microclimates
  • creating digging pits with natural substrate – around two feet of digging space is ideal
  • providing sensory enrichment – foraging for food is a natural behaviour for reptiles
  • enabling gradual exposure to novelty – rotate activities for them to do in their enclosure and give them toys to play with – consider cat or dog toys!
  • providing puzzle feeders – monitor lizards, in particular, can benefit from these.
“Have a look into the ethology of the species you are dealing with," said Danielle. "The majority of reptiles can be split into two – sit and wait predators and active foragers. If they've got a forked tongue, it means they are an active forager, so they're going to be looking around and investigating things... both will appreciate foraging-type toys to explore though.”

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RCVS Fellowship applications open

News Story 1
 Applications have now opened for RCVS Fellowship 2022. The RCVS is encouraging anyone who would like to be considered for Fellowship to apply, and if successful, they will be welcomed into the Fellowship next year.

The process for joining the fellowship has changed slightly for this year, as applicants will now need two signed referee forms instead of three professional references, and five assessors will review each application instead of three.

The deadline for applications is 14 February 2022, and more information on how to apply can be found here. If applicants have any questions, or would like informal advice from previous successful applicants, they are encouraged to contact Ceri Via Email 

Click here for more...
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Horiba announces veterinary haematology webinar

Horiba Medical has announced a free webinar providing practical insight on best practice in veterinary haematology. Entitled 'In practice haematology - Beyond the pale!' the webinar will be presented by Ronnie Barron from the University of Glasgow Veterinary School.

Ronnie's presentation, which will conclude with a Q&A session, will look at QC and artefacts of sample quality and review the effects of different pathologies. Using images, photomicrographs and video links, he will also explain the techniques and equipment needed to complement analytical automation to confirm results quality.

The webinar takes place on Thursday, October 28 (7.30-9pm). For more details and to register, click here.