Best Vet for Exotic Pets (2006)

Marc Kramer, DVM

Sure. Maybe lots of vets can cure an iguana. But can they do a duck, a fish, and a rabbit along with the lizard all in one day? Exotic animal veterinarian Marc Kramer can. Dr. Kramer graduated from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999, and joined the staff of the Avian & Exotic Animal Medical Center in 2000. Soon he built a large and diverse client list. Exotic vets "are a rare breed around here," Dr. Kramer points out. "There aren't too many who want to work with anything other than dogs and cats...." Dr. Kramer didn't find his animal calling until he was in college. "I didn't come to that realization until my last year of college. I wanted to be a biologist. I always really loved animals; I knew I wanted to work with animals.... I got to work on a lot of field projects in different states and countries ... and I worked on wild animals." Some examples of the exotics he's treated include "unusual primates, like lemurs, bush babies, and other monkeys; porcupines; skunks; and anteaters," but he wonders why someone would want an animal -- like an anteater -- that has such a specific diet. "You have to make this insect gruel for them.... A lot of problems we see are people not feeding the exotic animals right and not keeping them in the right environment." But it is that variety in the job that keeps it exciting for the handsome young doctor. "Coming to work every day is a new challenge. I'm still seeing different animals, which keeps it fresh; we're pioneers." He recently performed surgery on a Siamese fighting fish and a water frog. "You have to put a special anesthesia in the water, and then take it out of the water to operate, while dripping the anesthetic water on its skin." Such a challenging career does keep him busy. "I don't have a normal, easy schedule. I'm on call after-hours," he says. That means he puts in plenty of nights and weekends. So what does he do with his little free time? "I like to get outdoors as much as I can, canoeing and kayaking around Key Biscayne and the Everglades, and I take salsa classes a few nights a week. I've been dancing for about two years." While you would think that a vet would have a menagerie of pets around the house, Dr. Kramer prefers to keep it simple. "I just have cats and turtles now. I enjoy everyone else's pets.... I don't want to have to come home and clean up a zoo." He also spends a lot of time on his computer, moderating a discussion group for exotic vets, and he writes for veterinary magazines and does presentations at conferences. "It's important to share the knowledge since this is such a small field.... There's a growing interest in vets going into exotics since there is such a demand for it."


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