Tufts OpenCourseware


  • To provide a basic understanding of the health issues of the most common groups of non-traditional species and to demonstrate the comparative relationship to more traditional species
  • To expose all students to various career paths involving non-traditional species
  • To explore the concept of Conservation Medicine as it applies to all animals in the practice of veterinary medicine
  • Students should take away from these courses an appreciation for the value of understanding the health of a diverse group of animals in the context of general veterinary medicine. We intend that this understanding, along with a greater appreciation of the interconnectedness of all living things, will empower students to become effective animal advocates regardless of the student's particular interest or chosen specialty.
Color Key
Important key words or phrases.
Important concepts or main ideas.

1. Course Organization

The introductory course, Introduction to Zoological Medicine (2nd year), is organized into three main sections. The first section "Conservation Medicine" introduces fundamental principles in conservation biology, ecology and environmental health assessment as a foundation for understanding wild animals and their diseases in a wider framework. The second section "Diagnostic and Therapeutic Challenges" introduces topics common to many of the taxonomic groups including wildlife immobilization and restraint, basic diagnostic sampling and finding creative solutions to therapeutic challenges. The third and final section "Career Tracks in Zoological Medicine" deals with the main career paths currently defined to deal with the majority of these species.

The main course, Zoological Medicine, (3rd years) is organized into three main parts based on taxonomic groupings. The first part "Invertebrate, Amphibian, Fish, and Reptile Medicine" presents the basic health issues of these four groups. Part 2 includes a detailed presentation of basic avian health issues. Part 3 deals with the health of selected mammals in both free-ranging and captive settings.

2. Grading Policy and Examinations

Evaluation and grading is based on open book take home assignments and quizzes and cases. Although open discussion of assignments will occur and is encouraged, it is expected that work submitted is original to each student. Copied text from one student to another, or directly from references, including the syllabus, is considered plagiarism and is not acceptable.

Class attendance is expected, but will not be monitored. However, as a part of the core curriculum at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, students should appreciate that this material has been judged to be important for general veterinary education and the expectation is that graduating students have mastered this topic to the extent that it has been presented in the core curriculum .

2.1. Introduction to Zoological Medicine

Course grades for the Introduction to Zoological Medicine course will be calculated based on three homework assignments. There will be no final examination. An essay/short answer type homework assignment will be given out each week, corresponding to the three themes: Conservation Medicine (100 pts.), Diagnostic and Therapeutic Challenges in Zoological Medicine (100 pts.) and Career Tracks in Zoological Medicine (50 pts.). Assignments will be based on material in the syllabus and presented in class. Completed assignments will be due the following week.

Reference and resource material will not be examined specifically, except when indicated, but will be helpful to students in answering questions.

2.2. Zoological Medicine

Course grades for the Zoological Medicine course will be calculated based on completion of online case material (50%) and quizzes or essay assignments (50%). Timed quizzes will conclude each of the three sections.

Case material and quizzes will be due the night before the review session for the corresponding unit.

Grading will be liberal as long as reasonable and thoughtful responses are provided. Students should not collaborate on answers. It is intended that the process involved in answering the questions will also serve as an opportunity for learning the material. A review session will be held following each major taxonomic group to allow for discussion of the material.

2.2.1. Online cases

With available clinical case material corresponding to each taxonomic group, cases will be opened up following the corresponding lecture, to help you apply your newly learned information in a real life setting. Your responses in the cases will not be graded, but will be reviewed for originality and thoughtfulness. You will receive credit toward your grade for every case completed. Every case must be completed prior to the review session for the corresponding unit. Students are encouraged to complete cases shortly after the relevant lecture and not to wait until the night before they are due! Case work will constitute 50% of your grade.

2.2.2. Quizzes and essays

There will be an online quiz given at the end of each part of the course: Part 1 = 10%; Part 2 = 20%; Part 3 = 20% of your grade (total 50% of final grade). You will be given several days to take the quiz at your convenience, but once you begin you will only have 2 hours to complete and submit the quiz. Quizzes will be predominantly multiple choice, but will also include some conservation themed short answer material. You should prepare for taking quizzes by reading over your class notes, reviewing powerpoints and the syllabus, and exploring a conservation medicine theme as appropriate for that section. They will not be cumulative.

Final grades will be calculated based on the quizzes, essays and completion of cases.

3. References and Recommended Texts

There is no one complete text that covers the huge diversity of subjects presented in this course. References to text, journal and web based materials are made at the end of each chapter. A complete list of references is posted on this site in the Supplementary Material folder. Several primary texts are recommended for this course, and can be tailored somewhat to a student's interest:

  • For students interested in exotic companion animal practice, a new review text Manual of Exotic Pet Practice , by Mark Mitchell and Thomas Tully, Saunders/Elsevier, c2009 is recommended.

  • For Zoo Medicine, the most comprehensive text covering all of the taxonomic groups is Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine , edited by Murray E. Fowler, 5th ed. W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, PA, c2003. This volume serves as a good primary resource for all species and would be recommended to any student seriously considering working in any of the related disciplines. The update Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine Current Therapy 6 is also a good investment, but should be considered a supplement to the 2003 volume, not a replacement.

  • For Wildlife Medicine, another general text that is highly recommended is Essentials of Disease in Wild Animals by Gary A. Wobeser, Blackwell Publishing, 2006.

3.1. Introduction to Zoological Medicine

As an introduction, students are encouraged to browse through the recommended foundation texts above and key journals available in the library:

  1. Comparative Medicine

  2. Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine

  3. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine

  4. Journal of Wildlife Diseases

  5. Exotic DVM (Available free through IVIS)

  6. Journal of Herpetological Medicine and Surgery

  7. Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery

3.2. Zoological Medicine

The following texts are recommended for the Zoological Medicine course (Fall, 3rd Year):

3.2.1. Invertebrate medicine

Lewbart, Gregory A. Invertebrate Medicine. Blackwell Publishing, Ames, Iowa, c2006.

3.2.2. Fish medicine

BSAVA Manual of Ornamental Fish , 2nd Ed. Edited by William H. Wildgoose, UK- BSAVA , 2001.

Noga, E. Fish Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment . Mosby-Year, Inc. St. Louis. 1996. ISBN 1-55664-374-8.

Stoskopf, M. Fish Medicine . Saunders. 1993.

3.2.3. Amphibian medicine

Wright, Kevin M., Brent R. Whitaker. Amphibian Medicine and Captive Husbandry , Krieger Publishing Company; 2001.

3.2.4. Reptile medicine

Infectious Diseases and Pathology of Reptiles . Elliott Jacobson (Editor), CRC Press, 2007

Mader, Douglas M. Reptile Medicine and Surgery , 2nd rev. ed. W.B. Saunders Co. Philadelphia, 2006.

McArthur, Stuart, Roger Wilkinson, and Jean Meyer. Medicine and Surgery of Tortoises and Turtles . Blackwell Publishers, 2004.

3.2.5. Exotic companion animal medicine

Veterinary Clinics of North America, Exotic Animal Medicine series . WB Saunders, Co.

Quesenberry, Katherine E., James W. Carpenter, Peter Quesenberry. Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery Includes Sugar Gliders and Hedgehogs. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Co., c2003

Manual of Exotic Pet Practice , edited by Mark Mitchell and Thomas Tully, Saunders/Elsevier, c2009

Johnson-Delaney, Cathy A. Exotic Companion Medicine Handbook for Veterinarians . Zoological Information Network. Available from Zoological Education Network .

3.2.6. Companion and wild avian medicine

Avian Medicine , edited by Jaime Samour. 2nd ed. Mosby Elsevier, 2008.

BSAVA Manual of Psittacine Birds . John Chitty and Nigel Harcourt-Brown (Eds.) British Small Animal Veterinary Association; 2nd ed., 2005. (This text is used in the Advanced Avian Elective)

Veterinary Clinics of North America, Exotic Animal Medicine series . WB Saunders, Co.

Altman, Robert B., et al. Avian Medicine and Surgery . Philadelphia. W.B. Saunders Co., 1997.

Harcourt-Brown, Nigel and John Chitty. BSAVA Manual of Psittacine Birds . 2nd ed. Gloucester, UK : British Small Animal Veterinary Association, 2005.

Harcourt-Brown, Frances. Textbook of Rabbit Medicine , Butterworth-Heinemann, 2001.

Harrison, Gregg J. and Teresa L. Lightfoot. Clinical Avian Medicine . Palm Beach, FL : Spix Pub., c2006. available from Harrison Bird Foods and replaces Ritchie, Branson W., et al. Avian Medicine: Principles and Application. Lake Worth, Fla. : Wingers Publishing, c1994. (this may be available cheap used!). Parts of this new book are available free online through the IVIS website .

Olsen, Glenn H., and Susan E. Orosz. Manual of Avian Medicine . Mosby, 2000. Available through Barnes and Noble.

Tully, Thomas N, Lawton, Martin P.C., and Dorestein, Gerry M. (ed.) Avian Medicine . Boston: Butterworth Heinemann, 2000.

3.2.7. Poultry medicine

Diseases of Poultry . 12th ed. / edited by Y. M. Saif, Iowa State University Press, 2008.

Jordan, Frank T.W. Poultry Diseases , 5th ed. Bailliere Tindall, 2002.

3.2.8. Laboratory animal medicine

Fox, JG, Cohen, BJ, Loew, FM. Laboratory Animal Medicine , 2nd ed. Orlando, Florida: Academic Press, 2002.

Hrapkiewicz, Karen, et al. Clinical Laboratory Animal Medicine . 3rd ed. Blackwell Publishing Limited, 2006.

3.2.9. Clinical pathology

Fudge, Alan M. Laboratory Medicine, Avian and Exotic Pets. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 2000.

3.2.10. Useful resources for drug dosing information

Include the references cited above and:

Plumb, Donald C. Veterinary drug handbook . Ames: Blackwell Publishing, 5th ed, c2005.(Online version requires login to VIN).

Exotic animal formulary / James W. Carpenter. 3rd edition, W B Saunders Co., c2005.