Gregory A Rich, DVM

Exotic Pet Diseases

As part of our wellness services for avian and exotic pets, we diagnose and treat dozens of diseases. Below is a list of the most common diseases we treat as well as some of the common symptoms of each. Click on the headers below to learn more about the diseases for that specific species. For more detailed information, including additional symptoms to look for, please Call Us.

  • Feather destructive behavior: involves self-inflicted damage to feathers and may be a symptom of an underlying disease, behavioral issues, hormonal imbalances, nutritional imbalances, or lack of skin/feather moisture
  • Nutritional imbalances: symptoms may include nasal discharge, wheezing, seizures, white plaques in the mouth, feather discoloration, or diarrhea, depending on what nutritional component is imbalanced
  • Fatty liver disease: characterized by weight gain, loss of appetite, lethargy, and/or depression
  • Respiratory diseases: signs may include respiratory difficulty, open mouth breathing, a voice change, watery eyes, and/or nasal discharge
  • Kidney disease: excess water component to droppings and/or vomiting
  • Intestinal disease: symptoms may include mushy stools, smelly stools, stool stuck to feathers around cloaca (known as the rectum in mammals)
  • Reproductive problems: may be indicated by egg binding, chronic egg laying, and depletion of calcium stores


  • Nutritional imbalances: characterized by muscle weakness, lethargy, and fragile bones depending on the specific deficiency
  • Intestinal parasites: clinical signs include poor growth, decreased egg production, poor feed absorption, and/or diarrhea
  • Marek’s disease: viral infection that may be manifested with tumors, leg paralysis, eye lesions, and/or reproductive disorders


  • Adrenal gland disease: symptoms may include hair loss, loss of appetite, lethargy, loss of abdominal muscle tone, and/or itchy skin. In males, blocked urination may occur.
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose): commonly due to pancreatic cancer (insulinoma) and characterized by excessive sleeping, nausea, muscle twitching, unsteadiness, and hind end weakness. Often progresses to seizures.
  • Heartworm disease: initial signs include difficulty breathing, pale or grayish gums, a rapid heart rate, and possibly green urine
  • Lymphoid cancer: indicated by weight loss, hind leg weakness, nodular swelling of lymph nodes, and in many cases, palpable nodules on the spleen
  • Skin cancer: usually characterized by a raised, abnormal mass that may bleed from time to time
  • Diseases of the intestinal tract: common symptoms include urgency to defecate, abnormal stool formation, abnormal stool color or consistency, and often times a malodorous stool
  • Dental disease: common signs include loss of appetite, excessive tear production, wet hair from saliva collecting under the chin, and tooth grinding
  • Intestinal diseases: characterized by diarrhea at first, then total lack of fecal production, loss of appetite, and a rough coat. Abdominal distension may also be noted.
  • Infectious diseases: symptoms include abscesses, pneumonia, reproductive tract infections, diarrhea, nasal discharge, and extreme lethargy
  • Ear mites: indicated initially by itching ears, frequent head shaking, excessive scratching, and progresses to crusty spots in ear canal
  • Skin mites: usually visible with the naked eye as specks in the fur and often accompanied by dandruff
  • Pasteurella infection: also known as snuffles and characterized by watery nasal discharge, yellowish nasal discharge, and loud snoring
  • E. Cuniculi: clinical signs include a head tilt, severe postural imbalance, urinary incontinence, and/or eye disease
Guinea pigs/chinchillas
  • Dental disease: characterized by excess salivation with wet hair under chin, misaligned teeth, mouth bleeding, and difficulty eating
  • Intestinal imbalance: characterized by diarrhea at first then total lack of fecal production, loss of appetite, and a rough coat. Abdominal distension may also be noted.
  • Lice and skin mites: symptoms include severe itching, hair loss, and flaky skin
  • Ringworm: indicated by reddened, irritated, or flaky skin and itching
Rodents (hamsters, rats, mice, and gerbils)
  • Ringworm: indicated by reddened, irritated, or flaky skin and itching
  • Skin mites: signs include inflammation of the skin, excessive itching, and visible white specks in the fur
  • Ovarian/uterine cancer: characterized by a distended abdomen and bloody vaginal discharge in some cases
  • Mammary Gland Cancer: Firm, nodular swellings on underside and behind front legs. May occur in males as well as females.
  • Quill mites: visible white dots on the skin characterized by excessive scratching, dandruff, and loss of quills
  • Skin cancer: signs may include weight loss, quill loss, lack of appetite, and lethargy
  • Cancer of oral cavity: symptoms include bad odor from mouth area, loosened teeth, swelling on the gums, and weight loss
  • Obesity: characterized by a round or bulging body instead of teardrop shaped, inability to roll up in a ball, and fat deposits in the armpit and around rear legs
Sugar gliders
  • Nutritional imbalances: indicated by weakness, muscle tremors, abnormal swelling, pale mucous membranes, and bruising
  • Intestinal infections: signs include anemia, lethargy, and diarrhea
Turtles and tortoises
  • Nutritional imbalance: characterized by shell deformities, muscle weakness, weight loss, nasal discharge, swollen eyelids, and/or raw skin
  • Shell disease: characterized by softening and/or malformation of shell
  • Respiratory tract infections: signs include labored breathing, runny nose and/or eyes, sneezing, lethargy, and weight loss
  • Intestinal parasites: commonly visible in the stool and characterized by weight loss, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Trauma: evident by noting shell fractures and cuts/bleeding on the skin
  • Ear disease: indicated by bulge noted at tympanic membrane (side of head)
  • Nutritional imbalances: indicated by softening of the jaw, tremors, firm swelling of the bones of forearm and/or rear legs and muscle twitches of the limbs
  • Intestinal parasites: signs include regurgitation/vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and lack of appetite
  • Skin infections: symptoms include swellings of the mouth, jaw, eyes or feet, pus-filled cavities or fluid-filled pockets on the skin, thick crusty plaques on the skin, and/or retained shed (dysecdysis)
  • Respiratory tract infections: characterized by oral or nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, weight loss, and wheezing sounds while breathing
  • Skin infections: signs include sores, incomplete shedding, and abscesses
  • Intestinal parasites: symptoms include anorexia, weight loss, diarrhea, gas build up in intestines, and in severe cases, intestinal obstruction
  • Trauma: evidenced by bite or burn wounds