Educational Articles

Small Mammals

  • Skunks have a pair of specialized sacs located in their anus; each sac is connected to the outside by a small duct that opens just inside the anus. The sacs are merely pouches that store an extremely foul smelling secretion produced by glands that line the sacs.

  • An ovariohysterectomy is often referred to as a 'spay' or 'spaying'. It is a surgical procedure in which the ovaries and uterus are removed completely in order to sterilize or render infertile, a female animal.

  • An ovariohysterectomy is often referred to as a spay or spaying. It is a surgical procedure in which the ovaries and uterus are removed completely to sterilize or render a female animal infertile. Some veterinarians will perform an ovariectomy on rats, in which just the ovaries are removed. Spaying significantly minimizes the risk of ovarian, uterine, breast, and pituitary gland cancers in rats. Ideally, most rats are spayed between four and six months of age. Your veterinarian may recommend pre-surgical blood tests before surgery. In general, complications are rare with this surgery. However, as with any anesthetic or surgical procedure, in any species, there is always a small risk associated with being anesthetized. Most rats will experience no adverse effects following spaying, and in general, spaying is recommended for all healthy, young rats to prevent future health problems.

  • Sugar gliders are omnivorous in the wild. In the wild they eat the sap and gum of the eucalyptus and acacia tree plus pollen, nectar, manna (a sugar deposit from the sap oozing from wounds on tree branches or trunks), honeydew (sugar secreted by sap-sucking insects) and a wide variety of insects and spiders. Fruit is not a big part of their diet.

  • Sugar gliders are small, nocturnal mammals that are usually active at night and sleep during the day. Like kangaroos, they are marsupials and possess a pouch in which the female sugar glider raises her young. In the wild, they live in New Guinea and Australia in costal or rain forests.

  • Sulfadimethoxine is an antimicrobial given by mouth in the form of a tablet or liquid suspension, used primarily to treat coccidiosis. Its use for treating small mammals and reptiles is off label. Common side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite. This medication should not be used in pets that are allergic to it, pregnant, lactating, or have severe liver or kidney dysfunction. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • When leaving home for vacations, pet owners are confronted with the problem of what to do with their pets. Should they take them along or leave them at home? Reviewing a summary of boarding options and travel guidelines will make the decision easier while safe guarding the well-being of your pet and providing your own peace of mind.

  • Therapeutic laser is the application of light energy to areas of the body to stimulate healing. This light–tissue interaction is called photobiomodulation. In the past, therapeutic laser was often referred to as low-level or cold laser (as opposed to a surgical or hot laser).

  • Therapy pets are animals that visit hospitals, retirement homes, hospice centers, nursing homes and schools. Although most therapy pets are dogs, other species such as cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and horses are good candidates. These lovable pets are well trained, have good temperaments, and are people-friendly. Plus, they have a good work ethic!

  • Malignant lymphoma (lymphosarcoma) and leukemia are among the most common malignancies seen in ferrets. Diagnosis may be made by fine needle aspiration or biopsy. For a dedicated owner with a compliant patient, surgery and/or treatment with chemotherapy is an option. Remission of lymphoma is possible with treatment in ferrets, but recurrence is common. Ferrets also commonly develop insulin-producing tumors of the pancreas that lower the ferret’s blood sugar and cause weakness, weight loss, lethargy, seizures, coma, and death. Insulinoma commonly spreads from the pancreas to the liver, so surgical removal of pancreatic insulinoma nodules may not be curative. Affected ferrets respond well for months to years to medical therapy with glucose-promoting drugs (prednisone) and anti-insulin drugs (diazoxide). Drugs suppress effects of the tumor but do not eliminate it; and ferrets on medical treatment must have their medications increased over time as the tumor grows.