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Re: i would like to be a reptile vet...

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Posted by Nathan Wells on December 20, 2002 at 20:12:58:

In Reply to: Re: i would like to be a reptile vet... posted by BryanR. on December 20, 2002 at 14:21:45:

There are several roads available if you want to become a vet with a herp emphasis. However, the most important thing is that you have to become a veterinarian, (one who studies all animals), first before you persue your desire to work just with reptiles. To become a veterinarian, regardless of what area you plan to specialize in, requires a total of 8 years. Four being under graduate and four more years of actual vet school. Most undergrades graduate with a degree in biology, zoology, microbiology, etc., before heading into vet school. If you make it through and graduate from vet school you can then decide on what you would like to specialize in. After graduating from vet school, you are looking at a year-long intership and three years of residency training, totaling 12 years of higher learning to achieve your special interest.
In your case, you want to be a reptile vet. That is an awesome goal but unfortunatly there are not as many reptile owners as there are dog and cat owners. Most vets who see reptiles at their clinics also see other animals.
Take myself for example, when I was younger I too wanted to be just a reptile veterinarian. I actually was fortunate enough to get a job working under my good friend Dr. David Doherty. Dr.Doherty, known for producing some of the first genetic mutations in the honduran milksnake, saw dogs and cats on a routine basis but also specialized in reptiles. He soon made me realize that one could not support themselves by just seeing reptiles.
Another option would be to consider working at your area zoo. Your duties as a zoo vet could range extensively from routine exams, surgury and fecal checks on existing animals to treating sick and abandoned animals dropped off at the door.
Either way both areas of work would be enjoyable. The only thing that matters is that you are happy with what you are doing. Regardless of what you decide don't forget that there are other jobs out there that pertain to reptiles such as becoming a researcher, curator at a museum, an academic herpetologist, or animal technician. I have been a veterinary technician now for 7 years and have loved every moment of it. Right now, it is important to volunteer as much time as you can at wildlife centers, zoos, shelters, etc., to gain as much experience as possible.
Good luck and take care.

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