Dick Vet Rabbit and Exotic Practice

Referring Vets

With dedicated Exotic Animal Wards, specialist Veterinary Surgeons and top-of-the range equipment, we are proud to offer the most advanced veterinary care for our patients.

Important information for referring vets

Please be aware that due to staff sickness, at the current time, the exotics service will not always be able to accept NEW referrals out of hours. Existing patients can contact the hospital as normal. 

We offer a state of the art clinical facility and use the most advanced techniques and equipment.  We are also able to utilise other referral services within our hospital, as required, combining expertise to give your client and patient the best outcome possible.

Diagnostic Imaging

We provide advanced diagnostic imaging including ultrasonography, digital radiography, computed tomography (CT) scanning and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 


Exotic Animals Diagnostic imaging
Left: Although we often perform CT scans conscious, this rabbit is sedated for a scan to assess the spine. Right: Albino ferret receiving a conscious abdominal ultrasound scan.


loacoscopy in a hermans tortoise
Cloacoscopy in a Hermans tortoise

Diagnostic endoscopy is an important tool used in exotic animal medicine. We have a range of small endoscopes allowing us to diagnose many conditions using direct visualization and biopsies. 

Endoscopic examination of our patients is routine. We have invested in high quality endoscopic equipment which allows us to look at the back of the oropharynx, nasal cavities, into the lungs, or into the stomach, for example, and view high quality magnified images on a monitor. Images and videos are archived for playback to owners to increase their understanding of the disease processes affecting their animal.

The range of procedures possible includes surgical entry into the coelomic cavity of birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish for diagnostic purposes and surgical biopsy.

In mammals investment in additional equipment and CO2 insufflation allows diagnostic laparoscopic exploration to be performed in a variety of patients.

Surgical procedures can then be performed laparoscopically or by conversion to open surgery depending on which is more appropriate for the case.


Anaesthetised Rabbit
An anaesthetised rabbit with venous access via the marginal ear vein, an endotracheal tube has been placed to maintain and protect the airway and pulse oximeter on the tongue. We also use Doppler, capnograph and thermometer probes as key parts of our anaesthetic monitoring.

Anaesthesia of exotic patients often requires specialist techniques and knowledge. We have a range of methods in which to minimize common complications.

We utilise a variety of monitoring equipment including doppler, capnography, sphygmomanometer, rectal and oesophageal thermometers and, where needed, blood gas analysis.

When injectable agents are used, selecting the safest regime is important and our clinicians have a wide range of experience with differing agents and can tailor make a protocol for each patient.

All our rabbit patients are intubated and intravenous access is obtained allowing for fluid therapy throughout a procedure.

If needed, patients can be mechanically ventilated with a purpose built ventilator, particularly useful for avian and reptile patients


Exotic Animals Surgery
A radiograph of the hindlimb of a chinchilla following a fracture repair. The fracture was stabilised with the help of a very small external fixator. The chinchilla went on to make a full recovery.

Exotic animal surgery requires specialised facilities and instrumentation. Our theatre is equipped with a variety of surgical instrumentation specifically for exotic animal surgery.

Even a small amount of blood loss can be fatal in a small exotic pet and we use radiosurgery and miniature stainless steel clips to cauterise blood vessels where using ligatures would be impossible.

Fracture repairs in small exotic patients require miniaturised pins, bars and clamps to allow complex repair techniques such as external fixation to be carried out.

Patients undergoing surgical procedures require critical care before, during and after their surgery to ensure they quickly return to normal and can go home.


Exotic animals have very specific requirements for hospitalisation. Our four wards allow us to keep predator and prey species separate. 

Birds are housed in our Avian Ward in individual purpose built booths with UV-b light and separate air inflow and outflow.  This significantly reduces the risk of transmission of airborne diseases between patients.

Reptiles also have very specific temperature, humidity and ultraviolet lighting requirements. We have a wide range of vivaria suitable for hospitalisation of many different species.

Rabbit Ward is away from all predator species, providing a quiet and calm area to reduce any stress to our hospitalised patients.

Wildlife Ward is used for wildlife as well as our predator species, for example, ferrets and birds of prey, with large enclosures available for our patients.

Critical Care

If needed, 24 hour care can be provided to our patients with the transfer to our ICU facility within the hospital.  This is particularly helpful with more critical patients.

Our staff are on site overnight so patients can receive as much monitoring as re

Rabbit receiving oral medication
A rabbit receiving oral medication by one of our qualified Veterinary Nurses.

quired during their stay.  Our facilities include a range of intensive care units allowing for oxygenation, nebulisation and incubators to warm our patients.

Supportive nutrition and fluid therapy is also important to ensure our patients maintain their weight, as many species have higher metabolic rates than dogs or cats.

Commonly referred diagnostic procedures include: specialist ultrasound evaluation, contrast radiography studies, CT scans, nasal and tracheal endoscopy, laparoscopy, coelioscopy, fluoroscopy.

Routine referrals can be made Monday to Friday, ideally as a morning appointment, to allow for case planning and diagnostic procedures.  Emergency referrals are accepted 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with an Exotic Animal Veterinarian always available.

Related Links

Updates for referring vets

Get in touch

We do not always have a specialist veterinarian on site and our on call veterinarians are only able to discuss emergency cases within our referral catchment area out of normal working hours. We would advise you to contact an emergency service that is capable of taking accepting the referral if needed for case continuity and patient care. If it is not an emergency case then an email can be sent to reception which will be responded to within normal working hours.

Dick Vet Rabbit and Exotic Practice

  • Hospital for Small Animals
  • The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Contact details



University of Edinburgh
Easter Bush Campus

Post Code
EH25 9RG