Vets 4 Exotics (Ashleigh Vets)'s home page
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The best care for your long-eared pets

  • Consultations
  • Diagnostics
  • Hospitalisation Facilities
  • Neutering
  • Speciality Areas


Health Checks

Rabbits should have a routine health check approximately every 12 months. Usually this happens at the same time as their vaccination is given. Routine health checks will help identify many diseases at an early stage so that they can be prevented allowing your rabbit to have a happier life.


Rabbits should be transported to the surgery in a pet carrier. If they are part of a bonded pair it is a lot less stressful to bring both rabbits. Pet carriers are preferred over carrying by hand so rabbits are less frightened in the reception area. Preventing heat stress is especially important in rabbits. Make sure they are never placed directly in the sun in a carrier without good ventilation or left in a car, especially during sunny weather.

When does your rabbit need to see a small mammal veterinary surgeon

Signs of illness can be very subtle in rabbits. Often severely ill rabbits will just stop eating and sleep more than normal with no other obvious signs of illness. Not eating can be associated with pain, stress, teeth problems, gut stasis or an obstruction. Rabbits that are either not eating, sleepy, weak, have a distended tummy or are in obvious pain should be examined as soon as possible.

Your rabbit will be examined by one of our three small mammal veterinary surgeons. 40% of our patients are rabbits, and we also also see many rabbits that are referred to us for investigation and treatment of complicated disease problems, so we are very familiar with these gentle, inquisitive, social animals. We will usually be assisted by a qualified veterinary with extra specialist training in small mammal nursing.



We have an in-house laboratory where we can run a wide variety of diagnostic tests.

Emergency cases often require rapid diagnostic blood tests. Most commonly these are biochemistry, haematology and electrolytes.

Cytology is also a very useful test. Samples are easily obtained. Usually with just a prod of a needle. It can inform us if we are dealing with inflammation, infection, a cystic structure or is it a form of cancer. Very often cytology will give us additional very useful information. For example, if its cancer cytology often can reveal what type and the degree of malignancy allowing us to make the best clinical decisions for the patient.

Our laboratory also runs a range of other diagnostic tests.

  • Parasitology
  • Urine analysis
  • Water quality
  • Serology
  • Disease identification via serology
  • Skin tests

We also send samples for testing to a range of other diagnostic laboratories. In these cases results will take longer.

Diagnostic Ultrasound

Ultrasound is very useful diagnostic tool in the rabbit medicine, having the ability to see images of the structure of internal organs. It does not cause any pain and a good proportion of rabbits can have an ultrasound without any sedation. However, the fur has to be shaved over the area where the probe will be positioned.


Our most common use of endoscopy in the rabbit is the investigation of “chronic snuffles” that is chronic upper airway disease. Using a very small endoscope allows us to look inside the nasal cavities to actually see what is happening. It is essential in many of these cases. Chronic snuffles can be caused by infection, foreign body, abscess, deformity or cancer.

Endoscopy in rabbits is also used in the larynx, trachea, lungs, ears, sinuses, gastrointestinal tract and into the bladder.


X-rays are very important in the investigation of bone problems, middle ear disease, heart and lung disease, urinary tract disease and disease of the structures in the abdominal cavity.

All our x-rays are digital and in the DICOM format which allows optimisation of the image for diagnostic purposes. We are able to provide jpeg versions for clients who would like to have a copy of their animal’s x-ray at home.

Hospitalisation Facilities

At the Avian and Exotic animal clinic our hospitalisation facilities for rabbits and other small mammals are away from other species. Many rabbits find it very stressful to be in sight, sound or smell of species they would regard as predators.

It is very common for rabbits to need 24-hour monitoring and administration of medication and supportive care through the night. At the Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic there is always a veterinary surgeon on duty even through the night so that critical patients can be monitored and that the appropriate medication can be administered at the correct time.

If there are any changes even in the middle of the night we will be able to update you unless you request we don’t call at certain times.


Sexual maturity in rabbits begins around 4-8 months of age depending on the breed (in general, early in smaller breeds, later in bigger breeds).

Why spay/neuter your rabbit?

  • It prevents diseases of the reproductive tract, cancers of the uterus are very common in entire female rabbits but unknown in spayed rabbits
  • It prevents aggression (in males and females) so they can enjoy the company of other rabbits
  • It prevents unexpected/unwanted pregnancies
  • It prevents territorial marking with urine and faeces, and once the urge to mate is removed they become calmer, more loving and easier to train

Rabbits can be spayed/neutered from 4 months of age depending on maturity. Large breeds should be at least 5 months of age. We will advise you if your rabbit is too young and book a later date

The procedure consists of the removal of the testicles in males and the ovaries and uterus in females under general anaesthesia. Every rabbit has a comprehensive plan to control pain and leave the rabbits as comfortable as possible after the surgery. The surgical wounds are closed/sutured with an absorbable material with a minimal tissue inflammatory index to reduce post-surgical swelling. As soon as possible after the surgery we encourage them to eat by offering a selection of tasty food. If they are slow to eat they are gently syringe fed a special recovery food to stimulate the motility of their gut.

Normally they go back home the same evening.

Speciality Areas

We have a great team of highly qualified specialist vets who have years of experience in rabbit medicine and surgery. We also have a team of veterinary nurses with the specialist exotic animal qualification who also have years of experience. Together as a team the exotic animal clinic has the necessary expertise, clinical skills, appropriate equipment and hospitalisation facilities to provide the best care for our patients.
Our veterinary surgeons are regarded as experts by their peers and are regularly invited to lecture at conferences and present at continuing education events. They are also regular contributors of chapters to veterinary textbooks (see the publications page).

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