Exotic Animal Care

Exotic pets are fascinating animals that can enrich our lives and broaden our understanding of the animal kingdom and the world we live in. To properly care for exotic animals we need a thorough understanding of natural behavior, environment, and diet. Many exotic pets are prey animals and they are experts at masking their feelings and hiding illnesses, so as not to become a target for a predator. With regular veterinary examinations we can establish baseline weights, identify body condition, discuss diet, housing and environmental enrichment. All are important in providing responsible care of our exotic companions.

Exotic pet care in Elmwood Park

Small Mammals

Transport your small mammals and birds to our clinic in secure airline kennels or carriers.

Bring any treats that may help calm your pet. Always include food for herbivores.

Reptiles, Amphibians, and Birds

We can augment physical examinations with other diagnostic tests such as blood testing, radiographs and parasite checks.

Preventative medicine can help us better provide for the exotic animals we have taken into our homes.

Exotic Animal FAQs

Birds

Many volumes could be filled with what has been written on bird nutrition. Unfortunately, these are rarely based on sound scientific research. The sad truth is that nobody knows exactly what constitutes a complete diet for many bird species. This is compounded by the diverse nature of the birds, in that there are differences among species both in behavior and their natural history. It is probably truthful to say that they don’t all have the same requirements.

There are many other factors that influence avian nutrition in captivity, including maintenance in a foreign climate, breeding status vs. pet and other environmental stresses.

Three facts are true about the nutrition of the parrots particularly:

  1. None of these birds would, in the wild, eat a diet of high oil seeds (sunflower, safflower, peanuts, etc.).
  2. The use of oil seeds as the foundation of a bird’s diet leads to nutritional deficiencies and eventually death.
  3. Typically birds that live to an older age eat a wide variety of foods, often eating from the table with their owners
Chinchillas & Ferrets

Chinchillas

Chinchillas are very fun pets to have and easy to care for, but there is a lot of false information out there, especially on the internet and sometimes from pet stores, so make sure to see a veterinarian regarding proper care, caging, bedding and diet before buying all the "wrong stuff." There are only a few veterinarians in Chicago and the Chicago suburbs that specifically care for chinchillas and other exotic pets, including the veterinarians at Midwest Bird & Exotic Animal Hospital (located near Chicago's west side, only a few blocks west of Harlem, Chicago's western border), so make sure to find the right veterinarian before your chinchilla gets sick!

Chinchilla Facts

  • Life Span: 10 – 18 years
  • Environment Temperature Range: 60F - 75F
  • Body Temperature: 97F – 100F
  • Gestation Period: 111 days
  • Litter Size: 1 – 5 (range) 2 (average)
  • Weaning Age: 6-8 weeks

Ferrets

Ferrets are inquisitive, lively and charming little creatures that have captured the hearts of thousands of people around the world. They have an average lifespan of five to seven years with the current record being 14 years. The scientific name Mustela purorious furo means “little smelly thief." Ferrets are the domesticated form of either the Eastern or Western European polecat. They have been domesticated since at least 300 BC and were originally used for rodent control and to hunt rabbits. The majority of ferrets in the world today are kept as pets either in the house.

We will discuss the general care requirements of the ferret as well as some of the diseases you should be aware of. There are also several fine books available on the subject of ferret care.

Gerbils & Hamsters

Gerbils

Gerbils are very fun pets to have and easy to care for, but there is a lot of false information out there, especially on the internet and sometimes from pet stores, so make sure to see a veterinarian regarding proper care, caging, bedding and diet before buying all the "wrong stuff." There are only a few veterinarians in Chicago and the Chicago suburbs that specifically care for gerbils and other exotic pets, including the veterinarians at Midwest Bird & Exotic Animal Hospital (located near Chicago's west side, only a few blocks west of Harlem, Chicago's western border), so make sure to find the right veterinarian before your gerbil gets sick!

Gerbil Facts

  • Scientific Name: Meriones unguiculatus
  • Life Span: 2–4 years
  • Environment Temperature Range: 65F - 85F
  • Relative Humidity Range: 30–50%
  • Breeding Range: 10-12 weeks
  • Estrous Cycle: 4-6 days
  • Gestation Period: 24–26 days -- 27–48 days (with lactation)
  • Litter Size: 3-7 young
  • Weaning Age: 21 Days

Hamster

Hamsters are very fun pets to have and easy to care for, but there is a lot of false information out there, especially on the internet and sometimes from pet stores, so make sure to see a veterinarian regarding proper care, caging, bedding and diet before buying all the "wrong stuff." There are only a few veterinarians in Chicago and the Chicago suburbs that specifically care for hamsters and other exotic pets, including the veterinarians at Midwest Bird & Exotic Animal Hospital (located near Chicago's west side, only a few blocks west of Harlem, Chicago's western border), so make sure to find the right veterinarian before your hamster gets sick!

Hamster Facts

  • Life Span: 2-3 years
  • Environment Temperature Range: 65F-80F
  • Relative Humidity Range: 40-70%
  • Breeding Range: 10-14 Months (male) -- 6-10 months (female)
  • Gestation Period: 15-16 days
  • Litter Size: 5+10 young
  • Weaning Age: 21-25 days
Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are very fun pets to have and easy to care for, but there is a lot of false information out there, especially on the internet and sometimes from pet stores, so make sure to see a veterinarian regarding proper care, caging, bedding and diet before buying all the "wrong stuff." There are only a few veterinarians in Chicago and the Chicago suburbs that specifically care for guinea pigs and other exotic pets, including the veterinarians at Midwest Bird & Exotic Animal Hospital (located near Chicago's west side, only a few blocks west of Harlem, Chicago's western border), so make sure to find the right veterinarian before your guinea pig gets sick!

Guinea Pig Facts

  • Scientific Name: Cavia porcellus
  • Life Span: 4-5 years
  • Environment Temperature Range: 65F-75F
  • Relative Humidity Range: 40-70%
  • Breeding Range: 3-4 Months (male) -- 3-7 months (female)
  • Litter Size: 1-6 range -- 3-4 average
  • Weaning Age: 2-3 weeks
African Hedgehogs

African hedgehogs are remarkably hearty pets considering the short amount of time they have been maintained in captivity and how much there is still to learn about their captive dietary requirements. However, you may be faced with a situation where your pet needs medical attention. It is advisable to find a veterinarian who will be willing to treat your unusual pet before an emergency arises.

Reptiles

Information will be coming soon!

Mouse and Rats

Mice and rats are very fun pets to have and easy to care for, but there is a lot of false information out there, especially on the internet and sometimes from pet stores, so make sure to see a veterinarian regarding proper care, caging, bedding and diet before buying all the "wrong stuff." There are only a few veterinarians in Chicago and the Chicago suburbs that specifically care for mice and rats and other exotic pets, including the veterinarians at Midwest Bird & Exotic Animal Hospital (located near Chicago's west side, only a few blocks west of Harlem, Chicago's western border), so make sure to find the right veterinarian before your pet gets sick!

Mouse & Rat Facts

  • Life Span: 1.5-3 year, 2.5-3.5 years
  • Environment Temperature Range: 65F-80F, 65F-80F
  • Relative Humidity Range: 40-70%, 40-70%
  • Breeding Range: 50(m)-50-60(F) days, 65-110 days
  • Estrous Cycle: 4-5 days, 4-5 days
  • Gestation Period: 19 – 21 days, 21-23 days
  • Litter Size: 10-12 young, 6-12 young
  • Weaning Age: 12-28 days, 21 days
Prairie Dog

Prairie dogs are very fun pets to have and easy to care for, but there is a lot of false information out there, especially on the internet and sometimes from pet stores, so make sure to see a veterinarian regarding proper care, caging, bedding and diet before buying all the "wrong stuff." There are only a few veterinarians in Chicago and the Chicago suburbs that specifically care for prairie dogs and other exotic pets, including the veterinarians at Midwest Bird & Exotic Animal Hospital (located near Chicago's west side, only a few blocks west of Harlem, Chicago's western border), so make sure to find the right veterinarian before your prairie dog gets sick!

  • Scientific Name: Cynomys ludovicianus
  • Life Span: 5-10 years
  • Environment Temperature Range: 68F-72F
  • Relative Humidity Range: 30-70%
  • Sexual Maturity: 2-3 years
  • Gestation Period: 30-35 days
  • Breading Season: January-March
  • Weaning Age: 6-7 weeks
Rabbits

Rabbits can make intelligent, friendly and quiet house pets. The average life span for a bunny is 7 to 10 years with records of up to 15 years of age reported. The following information is provided to help you enjoy a happy, healthy relationship with your little friend. In addition to this handout there are a number of excellent books on the topic of rabbit health care that you may wish to consult.

There is a lot of false information out there about how to properly care for rabbits, especially on the internet and sometimes from pet stores, so make sure to see a veterinarian regarding proper care, caging, bedding and diet before buying all the "wrong stuff." There are only a few veterinarians in Chicago and the Chicago suburbs that specifically care for rabbits and other exotic pets, including the veterinarians at Midwest Bird & Exotic Animal Hospital (located near Chicago's west side, only a few blocks west of Harlem, Chicago's western border), so make sure to find the right veterinarian before your rabbit gets sick!

Sugar Gliders

Sugar gliders can be very fun pets, but are not always easy to properly care for, and there is a lot of false information out there, especially on the internet and sometimes from pet stores, so make sure to see a veterinarian regarding proper care as soon as you get your glider! Discuss caging, bedding and especially diet before buying all the "wrong stuff." There are only a few veterinarians in Chicago and the Chicago suburbs that specifically care for sugar gliders and other exotic pets, including the veterinarians at Midwest Bird & Exotic Animal Hospital (located near Chicago's west side, only a few blocks west of Harlem, Chicago's western border), so make sure to find the right veterinarian before your sugar glider gets sick!