Course Overview

Although rabbits, ferrets and pocket pets are not presented for services in the same numbers as cats and dogs, these pets also deserve the best medical care possible. Are you comfortable with the husbandry, behavior, physical exams, treatment, and restraint of these animals? Are you capable of providing superior client education to their owners? If not, it may be that your practice lacks effective protocols to treat these small animals and/or you have not been trained specifically in the treatment of rabbits and ferrets and pocket pets. Continuing education does not always cover these species.

This course is designed to increase your familiarity with these pets by providing species-specific information across a broad spectrum of areas. Exotic Medicine: General Care and Husbandry of Companion Animal Exotics covers ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, rats, mice, hamsters, gerbils, sugar gliders and hedgehogs. A review in the anatomy and physiology of each species is provided along with critical husbandry and nutritional factors that are essential to their survival.

A basic approach to veterinary care presents detailed information on restraint, physical examination and venipuncture techniques along with parasites, fluid therapy, pain management and medication administration. Some team members find they enjoy working with these animals and become the “go-to” person when they are seen by the clinic. The attending veterinarian needs a team member who is aware of the special needs and concerns of these small pets. Participants are not required to work in practice to complete this course. 

Exotic Medicine: General Care and Husbandry of Companion Animal Exotics is a 4-week course that provides expert content, practical assignments, case studies, and examinations so that participants will leave the course feeling confident in their new knowledge, and able to care for these animals. This course is designed for complete utilization of veterinary technicians, enhancing the veterinary:technician team approach in the care of exotic patients. 

This course was formally titled Basic Principles of Ferrets, Rabbit and Pocket Pets.


Continuing Education Credits

Course meets the requirements for 10 RACE hours of continuing education credit for veterinary technicians in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB's RACE approval. However, participants should be aware that some boards have limitations on the number of hours accepted in certain categories and/or restrictions on certain methods of delivery.

This course is an interactive online course that meets RACE requirements; program number 57-10450.


Course Content

This is a 4-week, entry-level course that discusses the basic elements needed to understand the anatomy and physiology of ferrets, rabbits and pocket pets.

Husbandry, including housing, environmental enrichment and nutrition are covered in detail, along with basic approaches to veterinary care.

Techniques for restraint, venipuncture, urine collection and radiology are provided, as well as guidelines for antibiotic and fluid therapy, pain management and medication administration.


Course Focus and Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  • Describe anatomical and physiology structures of ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and pocket pets
  • Discuss safe and appropriate housing modalities for ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and pocket pets
  • Analyze and determine appropriate diets for ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and pocket pets
  • Implement safe restraint techniques for ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and pocket pets
  • Execute physical examinations on ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and pocket pets
  • Identify common parasites seen in ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and pocket pets
  • Demonstrate venipuncture techniques used to obtain laboratory samples in ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and pocket pets
  • Dompare and contrast ideal locations for catheter placement and fluid therapy protocols
  • Describe the importance of environmental enrichment factors in ferrets
  • Implement a pain management program for ferrets and rabbits
  • Evaluate vaccination protocols and implement vaccine reaction procedures for ferrets
  • Facilitate hand raising orphaned rabbits
  • Describe the importance of digestion and absorption, hindgut flora and fermentation in rabbits
  • Recognize the importance of cecotrophy in rabbits and evaluate dietary components for rabbits
  • Consider zoonotic diseases in small rodents and implement protocols to prevent the spread of such diseases
  • Discuss color and genetic variations in, and identify techniques used to hand raise sugar gliders
  • Integrate techniques to examine hedgehogs safely


Participation Access Parameters

The design of this course allows participants to enroll at any time. 

After enrolling, please allow up to 48 hours for course activation. Each participant will have a personal start and end date that begins upon activation.


Participant Feedback

...I've really this course and Nichole has been great at helping and getting back to us. I've enjoyed learning about the physiology of the different species and the husbandry and care of these pocket pets as well as some of the diseases and problems they suffer from. These are things I can certainly help clients with in our practice. I've been challenged and this is very important to me in a course.

...The aspects of the course I found most beneficial were the current recommendations and care of a variety of exotics because rarely does anyone know how to proceed with them if they are sick.

...I enjoyed The assignments and case studies, because of their comprehensiveness and variety, along with the helpfulness, knowledge and timely responses of the course instructor, Nichole Zellner.

...The textbook was fantasticly well put together. It was easy to understand and very relevant. Certainly feel much more confident with exotic pets.

...The course made me read more about these exotic animals, and discipline myself to actually take the time to learn and gain more beneficial knowledge so I can feel more confident in educating clients.

...I enjoyed The reading assignments. Learning more about ferrets, rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs, rats, hamsters, and mice as these are the most common small animals we see.

...I found it all very interesting and think it has helped my in my role as a vet nurse.


Required Materials

Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents – Clinical Medicine and Surgery 3rd Edition Katherine Quesenberry, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian) and James W. Carpenter, MS, DVM, Dipl ACZM

Important Text Information:

It is mandatory that each participant has access to this textbook as the contents of the book are not reproduced within the course. It is up to each person to determine the best way to acquire the text. Some will already have the it in their library and, therefore, will not need to purchase another copy. The text is available as a print publication and as an eBook. Where to purchase and in what format is totally up to the participant. The text is not included in the fee for this course.

USA residents: Elsevier texts, both print and eBook, are available via the VetMedTeam Elsevier Text Portal at discounts off regular retail of 25 - 35 %. If you would like to visit the portal to take advantage of the discount please use this link:

VetMedTeam's Elsevier Text Portal

Limited Quantity eBook Code Offer:

VetMedTeam has a limited number of eBook text codes available for purchase. These codes are not restricted to USA residents. The cost of the eBook code via this option is $50.00 - Reduced to $10 while codes last. If you are interested in purchasing the eBook text code directly from VetMedTeam, please click on this link to submit your transaction Text Code Payment Page.

Important: Regardless of which option the participant chooses, access to a copy of the textbook is mandatory. Without the text, the student will not be able to complete the assignments, case studies and examinations. If enrolling close to or beyond the course start date, it is recommended that the text be purchased as an eBook to prevent text acquisition-related delays. VetMedTeam has no control over shipping delays and other related problems.


Additional Courses Using Required Text

The textbook used in this course is also used in the following course. Click on the course title below to view details regarding that course. Use your browser's back button to return to this course.

Exotics: Disorders and Diseases of Companion Animal Exotics


Course Completion Requirements

Completed students are awarded a certificate of completion. Completion requirements include:

  • Instructor Graded Interactive Module Assignments: Designed to help the participant reinforce newly learned material

  • Instructor Graded Interactive Case Study Assignments: Designed to help the participant apply the newly learned skills and knowledge though patient and practice based scenarios

  • Examinations: All examinations must be submitted with a score of 80% or better

  • Course survey


Course Instructor

Nichole Zellner, DVMNichole Zellner, DVM

Dr. Zellner is a proud alumni of Virginia Tech where she received her undergraduate degree. She went on to the VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine where she received her DVM in 2006. Immediately following graduation, Dr. Zellner moved down to Florida where she began practicing at the Avian and Animal Hospital in Largo, FL.

Dr. Zellner has a special interest in avian and exotic medicine and is pursuing board certification.

She married a fellow veterinarian and they share their home with 2 dogs, 2 cats, 2 snakes, and 4 birds.



Price: $151.00



VetMedTeam 2014