Dr. Sara Collins Powell is our exotic specialty veterinarian who has over 8 years of experience working with exotic pets as well as zoological and aquatic animals. Dr. Powell discovered her love of zoological medicine when she worked as a dolphin trainer at Dolphin Quest Oahu during college. She then decided to pursue this field of veterinary medicine when attending the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
She was a part of the Wildlife Treatment Crew throughout her 4 years at UGA, where students triaged and cared for sick and injured wildlife. She worked on many research projects with her two zoological mentors and even assisted in hosting the annual endoscopy continuing education course for zoo veterinarians.
During vet school, Dr. Powell took two AQUAVET® summer courses, worked on NC State’s Turtle Rescue Team, and externed at facilities including The National Aquarium, The Marine Mammal Center, The South Carolina Aquarium, and The Georgia Aquarium. These opportunities gave her great experience working with fish, reptiles, birds, marine mammals, and many wildlife species.
After graduating from UGA’s vet school, Dr. Powell then went to Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine to gain more experience in small animal emergency and internal medicine as well as zoological medicine. She worked at the Southeastern Raptor Center- caring for hundreds of injured birds of prey in the rehabilitation clinic. She also spent time working in the Exotic Department at Auburn, caring for exotic pets including birds, reptiles, and small mammals.
Finally, Dr. Powell worked at the Birmingham Zoo, where she developed skills and received training on how to care for a large collection of zoological species. After seeing there was a need for an exotic veterinarian in the South Atlanta area, she decided to move to Newnan in August of 2019. She has provided care to over 1,500 exotic pets in our area since then!
The Basics of Exotic Care
Whether your exotic pet is furry, feathered, or scaled, it’s important to recognize the same things that make exotics fascinating are also what make their care so unique. To provide the best for your pet, familiarize yourself with the following aspects of his or her health:
Consistent veterinary care
Establish a good relationship with a veterinarian who understands exotics. Knowing how healthy your exotic pet is can be difficult to gauge, as changes can be quite subtle. At SweetWater Veterinary Hospital we have expertise in providing medical care to birds, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals. We encourage you to schedule an appointment for your one-of-a-kind animal.
Providing your pet with the right enclosure is a fundamental necessity. This includes using the recommended bedding for your pet and keeping it clean to prevent illness and infection (change bedding at least once a week). Cages should be roomy enough to allow for exercise, while secure enough to prevent escape. The temperature and humidity within the enclosure is very important for certain species, like reptiles. Please fill out our history forms while at home before coming to your appointment so you can accurately describe what you provide for your pet.
Along with housing, feeding your pet the correct diet is the foundation to health and wellness. Because exotics require specialized food, even slight deviations from the recommended diet can be harmful to your pet. Depending on your companion, he or she may also require supplements. Consult with our team if you have any questions about your pet’s nutritional needs.
Psychological and behavioral enrichment is necessary for all animals. An important component of health and quality of life relies on the ability to carry out normal behaviors. For pets in enclosures, the trick is to keep their surroundings interesting by adding elements (wheels, tubes, mirrors, etc.) and places to hide.
Along with these aspects of exotic pet husbandry, it’s important to learn proper handling techniques, temperature/climate requirements, and appropriate psycho-social needs (some pets thrive on companionship while others do better on their own).