Birds, Small Mammals & Wildlife
While the majority of our patients are dogs and cats, our vets are also experienced in the veterinary care of other species including:
- Small mammals (rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, rats, mice)
- Wildlife care (native Australian animals eg possums, bandicoots, wild birds, reptiles)
For small mammals such as rabbits, where the correct nutrition is so important, we stock the recommended diets by OXBOW – strongly recommended by rabbit vets internationally. Please contact us on 9498 3000 for any questions regarding your pet rabbit, ferret, guinea pig or rodent.
For complicated bird problems we will refer you to an avian specialist. Please phone and speak to one of our nurses to determine whether the problem can be treated at Gordon Vet Hospital or requires an avian specialist. There is a bird specialist clinic at Waterloo in Sydney headed by Dr Alex Rosenwax: www.birdvet.com.au
For pet reptiles and amphibians we recommend organising an appointment with Dr David Vella at Crows Nest, by phoning him on 9436 4884 or visiting his website: www.davidvella.com.au
We accept sick and injured wildlife free of charge from members of the local community.
A consistent diet is vital for rabbits to maintain their body condition and ensure that the bacterial population within their gastrointestinal tract stays healthy. Consistency in rabbit diets is very important to avoid microbes in the gut producing too much gas. If this happens, it may lead to poor appetite and gut stasis (where the gut stops working).
Unfortunately, most of the pre-mixed diets available for rabbits are not the healthiest choice for your bunny. Rabbits need a high percentage of fibre in their diet to keep their teeth and gut working properly. These “rabbit food mixes” are deficient in fibre and essential nutrients and in some cases, can even cause health problems.
Hay & Grass
Hay and grass are the best sources of fibre available. Timothy grass hay or meadow hay is ideal and should make up 75% of a rabbit’s diet. Lucerne hay is unsuitable for adult rabbits as it is a legume, not a grass and contains too much protein and calcium. Lucerne and alfalfa hay can be fed to growing rabbits up to 6 months of age.
Timothy hay should be stored in a cool, dry place. Do not store it in a sealed container as hay needs to “breathe”. Timothy hay can be purchased from Gordon Veterinary Hospital. For bulk purchase of meadow hay (also appropriate), contact “Better Produce” on 9986 3400 at Terry Hills.
Pellets should have a high fibre content, eg Oxbow diets. Most pellets range from 16-18% fibre but 20-27% is optimal in a non-breeding rabbit. Feed approximately a quarter (1/4) of a cup of pellets per 2kg body weight per day. Too many pellets can lead to an abnormal balance of bacteria in the intestines. If given the opportunity, some rabbits will eat only pellets and ignore their hay and vegies. For this reason, only a limited amount of pellets must be provided. Choose pellets alone rather than the mixes with seeds and grains so they cannot pick and choose.
Oxbow’s Bunny Basics/T (T= Timothy) is specifically formulated for the adult rabbit, while the Basic Basics (15/23) formula (15% protein, 23% fibre) is for young rabbits up to 12 months of age.
Hay is not a source of vitamins. Vitamins should be sourced from green leafy vegetables. Approximately 1 cup of vegetables for a 2kg rabbit per day is appropriate. Always introduce vegetables one at a time to ensure that each agrees with your rabbit’s digestive tract.
Carrots are not ideal as they contain a lot of sugar and carbohydrates (baby carrot tops are fine). Avoid gas-forming vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower. Select at least 3 different types. Suitable vegetables include; alfalfa sprouts, basil, beet greens, broccoli leaves, Brussels sprouts, carrot tops, green peppers, romaine lettuce, outer cabbage leaves, squash, pea pods (not the peas). DO NOT FEED CORN.
A small amount of fruit can be fed as a treat or training aid only (not a normal part of the diet). High fibre fruits are best and should not exceed two level tablespoons for a 2kg rabbit per day (ideally less than this or not at all). It is best to feed the same treats consistently to avoid a gastrointestinal upset. Examples; apple, plum, peach, pear, melon, pineapple, raspberry/blackberry/strawberry.
CARING FOR SICK & INJURED WILDLIFE
Gordon Veterinary Hospital sees and treats over one thousand wildlife cases each year, including on public holidays. These animals include possums, bandicoots, birds and reptiles. This service is offered to the general public free of charge. Our veterinary staff work in conjunction with Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Services and WIRES to rehabilitate sick and injured wildlife. However, it is important to understand that animals that have been severely injured or extremely ill, rendering them unable to survive in the wild, must be humanely euthanased. This is a policy of NSW National Parks and Wildlife and is in the best interests of the welfare of the animal concerned.
What should I do if I find an injured wild animal?
Our hospital really appreciates people bringing in injured and sick wildlife, rather than leaving them to suffer. If an animal has been obviously attacked or hit by a car ,then bring it to us straight away. Be careful handling wildlife; often gardening gloves and a thick towel are a good way to transport them into a cardboard box. By surrendering the animal to us, we are then responsible for the decisions on its welfare.
If you find an abandoned baby animal then please phone Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife services (ph 9413 4300) or WIRES (ph 8977 3333) for advice. In spring, young growing birds are encouraged out of the nest and forced to learn to fly over a 2 week period. This means they are often easy to catch and hopping along the ground. The parents are usually hanging around and still feeding their young at this stage. It is important not to interrupt this process.
Here is a link to a guide for how to manage a baby bird and what to do with it. Sometimes, if a baby bird has fallen out of its nest, it may be necessary to build a new nest for the bird if the real nest is damaged or inaccessible. Here is a link to a guide on how to make a new nest for baby birds. These links are care of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
Each animal is promptly examined by one of the veterinarians and individual computer records made for every case. This makes it easy to allow members of the public to track the progress of the patient. If you would like to know the outcome of the wild animal you have brought in to us, then please phone later that day to discuss the case with a veterinary nurse.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS)
If you find an injured, sick or orphaned native animal, you are not allowed to keep it as a pet. The NPWS grants licences to specialist wildlife rehabilitation groups throughout the state. These groups train and assist people to provide optimum care for temporarily disadvantaged native animals and to return them to the wild. The NPWS generally will not allow people who don’t belong to a wildlife rehabilitation group to care for injured native animals. The animals usually need trained expertise and specialised housing and care if they are to be returned to the wild and be able to fend for themselves.
Before the rehabilitation and release of an animal, we must consider its health and physical condition and its ability to survive in the natural environment to which it is being released. Native animals unable to be released into the wild must be euthanased on humane grounds.
For further information, contact NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services at www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au