Page last updated at 10:26 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Vet centre for exotic pets opens

The centre is opening in response to the growing popularity of exotic pets

A rise in the number of exotic animals being kept as pets has led to the opening of the UK's first specialist veterinary training facility.

The Royal (Dick) School for Veterinary Studies at Edinburgh University has opened the facility to help students learn to care for exotic species.

Students will learn how to treat a range of animals, including hamsters, chinchillas, lizards and snakes.

They will also learn about the right temperature and diets for each animal.

One-to-one sessions will also be available for students who have phobias about snakes or rats to help them overcome their fears.

'Better equipped'

And they will be able to carry out supervised placements, which are compulsory for a veterinary degree, at the new unit.

Gidona Goodman, one of the lecturers in exotic animal and wildlife medicine, said the new facility would enhance the learning experience of students.

She said: "Students do not often get much exposure to handling exotic animals until they start treating them under supervision in clinics in their final year.

"However, exotics pets are on the increase and this unit will mean that students will be much better equipped in handling such animals.

"Giving students this experience early on is important as it provides them with the skills and confidence to treat animals with a variety of problems."

About 100,000 households in the UK have snakes and 80,000 homes have pet rats.

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