Practical anatomy and physical examination: Ferrets, rabbits, rodents, and other selected species (Proceedings) - Veterinary Healthcare


Practical anatomy and physical examination: Ferrets, rabbits, rodents, and other selected species (Proceedings)


Other species

Sugar gliders

Sugar gliders have an extremely unique dentition. 2(I 2 or 3/1 or 3 C 1/0 P 1 or 3/1 or 3 M 3 or 4/3 or 4). Their incisors are specialized for gouging the bark of trees, and are closed rooted. These teeth should never be trimmed. They are nocturnal and as such have extremely large eyes. They have four toes on the hind feet; an opposable first digit; and the first and second digits of hind feet are fused (syndactyl). Scent glands (bald patches) are present on the forehead and upper chest in intact males. Newborns possess a continuous cartilaginous arc in the shoulder girdle, which provides support for the newborn to climb into the pouch. These bones break down immediately after birth. Females possess a prominent pouch; males have testes which are contained within a scrotal sac that is located cranial to the penis. Gestation is 15-17 days, but the young don't emerge from pouch until 60-70d post-parturition. This is a cause for confusion when discussing the age of a juvenile sugar glider.

Marsupials are naturally hypoglycemic, with normal resting blood glucose in wild animals ~50mg/dL.They are relatively glucose intolerant. Metabolism is about ⅔ that of other mammals, and heart rate is about the rate of comparably sized placental mammals. Average body temperature around 90 F.


Hedgehogs have dorsal spines, but ventral fur. The spines of hedgehogs, unlike porcupines, are not easily removed from the skin. In fact, in a healthy hedgehog, the spines are so firmly adherent that the entire animal can be picked up by the spines. (NOT recommended!) Hedgehogs also have unique dentition: the dental formula is 2(I3/3 C1/1 PM 3-4/3-4 M3/3). The teeth lie in an irregular pattern within the oral cavity and are used for biting through the exoskeleton of insects. They are insectivores and omnivores, but insects represent an important part of their diet. They are good swimmers, climbers, and burrowers. Hedgehogs have an unusual behavior in which they 'anoint' themselves with frothy saliva when introduced to a new substance. They reach sexual maturity at 2 months, and gestation is 34-37 days. Male hedgehogs have prominent seminal vesicles which lie dorsal to the bladder and are responsible for production of secretions. They also have paired Cowper's glands which lie adjacent to the penis.


Fox, JG. Biology and Diseases of the Ferret. Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia, 1988.

Harcourt-Brown, F. Textbook of Rabbit Medicine. Elsevier Science Limited, Kent, UK, 2002.

Harkness, JE. Essentials of Pet Rodents. AAHA Press, Lakewood, CO, 1997.

Hillyer EV and Quesenberry KE: Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery. WB Saunders, Philadelphia, PA, 1997.

Johnson-Delaney CA. Exotic Companion Medicine Handbook for Veterinarians. Lake Worth, FL:Wingers, 1997.

Johnson-Delaney CA. The marsupial pet: sugar gliders, exotic possums, and wallabies. Proc Annu Conf Assoc Avian Vet. 1998:329-339.

Lewington, JH. Ferret Husbandry, Medicine and Surgery. Elsevier Science Limited, Edinburgh, 2002.

Reeve, N. Hedgehogs. T&AD Poyser Ltd, London, 1994.


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