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aanor in exotic_vettech

the particular occupational hazards of zoo medicine

So I get the job of feeding the white throated monitor - a lizard about 5 ft long from nose to tail - and today Madagascar hissing cockroaches are on the menu. I can't very well just dump them in a dish and hope she eats them before the go scurrying off to start a new colony somewhere in the ward, so I have to use the hemostats. These rather large bugs are no picknick to grab with my foreceps, and the fact they keep hissing at me doesn't help. The hissing sound perks the monitor right up, though, and she starts towards me a little too intently for my liking. Once I grab one, I've got to wave it in front of her face, and then make sure to push it to the back of her mouth when she lunges for it with rather large jaws. And what with the Kelly forceps being only maybe 6" long, it took me a few tries at this not to pull my hand back reflexively when she goes for the cockroach I'm offering. I get to the biggest and most cunning of the cockroaches last - its about 2" long, and when I finally get it in my forceps, the it goes *squish* and bug guts go squirting - right into my eye!!! The cockroach is hissing in anger, the monitor is approaching me a little too eagerly, and I have to take a few minutes just to recover from the shock and horror of cockroach guts in my eye. Then I shakily feed it to the monitor - who just about grabs the forceps out of my hand while she's at it - and get the heck out of there. I think I used up at least half a bottle of eye irrigating solution just to try to make myself feel less grossed out. I'm a vet tech. Not much grosses me out. But that, my friends, was traumatic.


I'd think I'd rather havethat done than anal glands squirted in my mouth :)
Not to make light of your trauma, but this story had me laughing out loud!

And I'm now that much more determined to find a zoo that will take me as a tech, paid or not!
That's ok. When it first happened I was completely horrified. But by the next day I was just amused by the whole thing. If you're interested in working with zoo animals or wildlife, my advice to you is to find a good place to volunteer. I started out as a zoo keeper volunteer at my zoo years before I even knew what a vet tech was. The zoo's vet staff doesn't take volunteers very often, and having some history of volunteering at the zoo helped a lot with me getting to volunteer with the vet techs while I was in vet tech school. Now I'm doing my externship there. And if I'm very very lucky, one day a vet tech job might open up at the zoo and I will have a shot at getting it. I guess what I'm saying is: when it comes to zoos, wildlife rehab, etc. these places often rely heavily on volunteer power, and they tend to hire from their pool of dedicated volunteers, because they have shown a commitment to the institution already, and are already familiar with the place and the staff. These kind of jobs are competative - there aren't too many of them to go around - so you should be accept the fact that you may have to work your way up from the bottom.
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May 2010

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