There are many pages you can visit to find vets in your area. The most comprehensive pages are those offered by the Rat Fan Club and the RMCA. If you cannot find a vet in your area, you can interview one by using the following step-by-step guide, because let’s face it: it’s hard to find a veterinarian in your area that you can trust if you don’t know what other people’s experiences with them are. By interviewing “strange” vets, you can tell if the vet knows what he (or she) is talking about when it comes to rats, simply by asking a few questions. This section teaches you step by step how to find a vet that’s right for you–and your rats. The only things you need to find the right vet are a telephone and a phone book with a yellow pages. Before we get started, I would like to note, that when you are asking the questions and talking with the veterinarian, make sure that you sound like you’re making conversation, not grilling the vet in which you are talking to. It is important to make your first impression good. Also, when talking to the vet, use a strong voice, so they know that you know what you’re talking about.
Step 1–Getting Prepared
Before we go over the actual interview, you need to learn about preparation. First of all, have all your material laid out in front of you. Your material should include, but is not limited to the following:
- The phone book, open to the yellow pages
- A pad of paper
- Sharp pencil or pen
- The questions (a copy for each vet would be nice)
- A list of vet names and phone numbers that you have pulled out of the book
Let me explain each item. First of all, the phone book is where you will be getting vet phone numbers. The yellow pages, under vet should list all the vets in your county and surrounding counties. The pad of paper is for taking notes, which you will be doing a lot of. The pencil is self explanatory (what are you going to write with?). The questions should be typed out with space below for answers. The vet will never see this paper, this is just for you to write down his answers. The vet names will be a list of all the vets you will call. The highlighter is for use with the phone book.
Step 2–Finding the vets
Under the “veterinarians” section of the yellow pages, highlight the veterinarians in towns that are close enough to get to in an emergency, 20 minutes away, at the most. After copying down all the highlighted names and numbers onto the pad of paper, highlight the vets whose ads say they are “exotic” vets (highlight on the pad of paper, not in the phone book).
Call each number, asking the receptionist to have the vet call you back when it is convenient. If it’s convenient now, go on to the next step. If not, you have more time to call more vets. Do not be alarmed or insulted if it takes a while for the vet to call you back. They have a lot on their minds and a lot of animals to care for.
Step 4–Talking to the vet
When the vet calls you back, introduce yourself, and tell he or she that you are new in town (or that you’ve never had a vet before, or whatever), and are trying to locate a veterinarian for your pet rats. Ask he or she if you can ask them a few short questions. If you want, after you have asked the questions, ask a few of your own and engage in light chitchat, from which you can take notes on your pad of paper.
Step 5–The questions
Here are the questions:
- How do you feel about pet rats?
- The answer should, of course, be that the veterinarian likes and respects rats
- How many rats do you treat each year?
- Hopefully, the answer will be more than a few, but if you live in a rural or small town, 3 or more is fine. A vet that does not treat any rats is a no-no.
- What types of rat surgeries have you completed?
- Must include, but is not limited to tumor removal, neutering, and spaying.
- What are the success rates?
- Should be no less than 95%.
- How familiar are you with mycoplasmosis?
- The vet should be very familiar with this respiratory infection and should know how to treat it.
- Do you require an overnight fast for rats before surgery?
- The answer should be no, as rats do not require overnight fasts.
You may also want to ask what he or she charges for a visit, and for a tumor removal. If the vet flunks a question before you get to the end, continue with the questions until the end. You will evaluate all questions when you are done interviewing everyone. Feel free to take notes as far as how you felt with
the vet on the phone, so that you are familiar with which vet you are reviewing when you look at the answers later.
Step 6–Reviewing the Answers
Once all the interviewing is done (whew!), sit down and look at the answers you got from each vet. Toss out any answer sheets from vets that flunked one or more questions, and mark them off your list of vets with numbers. Sort out the sheets of the vets that you thought had the best answers. Mark the others off the list. Then pick out the vets you felt the most comfortable talking to from the remaining stack. If you are left with a lot, sort out the answers that had the best prices. If you are left with one or two, great! If you’re left with two vets, it may be worth your
money to visit each vet for a “routine” checkup, to meet the vet in person, then choose your favorite.
Once you’ve chosen the vet, make sure you’re happy. You should feel totally comfortable, and if you don’t, visit the other vets who were close to the end of your sorting job. You should feel good asking any questions, and you should get a good answer. Remember, this is YOUR vet and YOUR money. Be happy.