In recent years, animals known as “exotic animals” have been attracting more and more attention as pets. Generally, “exotic animals” refers to animals other than cats and dogs, including small animals such as rabbits and hamsters, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Due to the recent situation in the pet industry, the demand for exotic animal care has been increasing rapidly, and it is a field in veterinary medicine that is expected to develop further.
Today, we interviewed Dr. Kenichi Tamukai, the director of Denenchofu Veterinary Hospital, who treats a wide range of exotic animals, including dogs, cats, small animals, reptiles, amphibians, and even tarantulas. He told us about his experiences from when he was a student to now, what he has been doing in the field, and the future of veterinary care for exotic animals.
【Affiliation and Official position】
・Denenchofu Animal Hospital (director)
・Tokyo Veterinary Medical Association (Manager of the Ota branch)
・The Japanese Society of Exotic Animal Medicine (Vice-president)
・The Japanese Society of Veterinary Science
・Japan Veterinary Medical Association
・Japanese Society of Veterinary Anesthesia and Surgery
・The Japanese Society of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine (Councillor)
・Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians
・Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians
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珍獣病院 ちっぽけだけど同じ命 2011/07/23
・Born in Obu City, Aichi Prefecture
・Graduated from Azabu University, Department of Veterinary Medicine in 1998
・Opened Denenchofu Veterinary Hospital in 2003
・D. in Veterinary Medicine in 2014
・TBS “Jounetsu Tairiku” (Continent of Passion) in 2011
・Appeared on NHK’s “Ryugi of Professional Work” in 2020
- About his student days
What did you like to do as a child? What kind of child were you？
The opportunity to learn about exotic animals in school is gradually increasing. However, students have little opportunity to learn deeper about ecological and medical knowledge of exotic animals, so those who want to know about exotic animals have to study and learn by themselves.
What did you do as a student to study exotic animal veterinary medicine?
When you were a student, you must have had some opportunities to go to practical training, but did you actively go to practical training and study with the idea of treating exotic animals in the future?
That was an unexpected answer. I thought that because exotic animal care cannot be studied at university, students have to study specialized content on various animals and go to practice from their early years, but I was told that this was not the case. Especially when it comes to practical training, it must be difficult for students who have not yet mastered the basics to learn the advanced knowledge in the field of medical treatment, and needless to say, the same thing can be said about the techniques.
- About university classes
In veterinary school, students learn various subjects such as anatomy and physiology, but what subjects do you think are particularly good or important to study for the treatment of exotic animals?
I was impressed by the words, “While you are a student, do what only students can do.” It may be more useful in the future to spend the large amount of time that students can spend on the basics and mastering their own field of interest rather than on clinical and applied content. It is precisely because there is little established information on exotic animals that the experience of breeding them myself since I was a student will help me make correct judgments when I treat them.
- After Graduation
To begin with, what do I need to do to work at a hospital that treats exotic animals?
You said that you have read through all the papers, including those from overseas, for your studies after becoming a veterinarian. Are there any other things you have done for your studies or any habits or experiences that have helped you in your current practice?
I can think of academic societies as a place to get information on exotic animals, but should I belong to an academic society? Also, what do you think are the advantages of belonging to an academic society?
- Exotic Animal Care
Finally, we asked Dr.Tamukai, who deal with exotic animals on the front lines of the field every day, about what he feels during his practice and about the future of exotic animal care.
So you treat fish as well! Personally, I cannot imagine a treatment of fish, but how exactly do you give a treatment?
Since pet fish are brought in, are there any surgical procedures for fish? Would not water flow in through the wound?
There must be many difficulties in treating exotic animals, but is there anything in particular that you would consider difficult?
On the other hand, what is worthwhile about your job: exotic animal care?
Also, he kindly answered the following in-depth questions.
He also answered these in-depth questions.
To be honest, if I become an exotic animal specialist, would I be able to make a living?
What are your thoughts on the current status and future of medical care for exotic animals, especially reptiles?
What do you look for in students who aim to become exotic animal specialists in the future?
After the interview
Through this interview with Dr. Tamukai, I felt that what we have to do to become involved in exotic animal veterinary medicine is to continue practicing diligently with a passion for animals. The fact that he is at the forefront of this field and has gained the trust of so many pet owners must be a result of continuing to deal with animals with an inquiring mind since he was a child.
He also says that it is important to have the courage to take on challenges. In fact, he examines all kinds of animals on a daily basis, even those he has never bred or treated before. From his words, I strongly felt his determination to take on challenges without a fear of taking risks and to make the utmost effort to cure animals once he decided to treat them.
I believe that this steady effort and the courageous decision to face animals with little information will enable us to respond to the changing trends in pet animals and the advancement of medical care with the times.
When I asked him to tell me about what he thinks is important to keep in mind as a veterinarian, he answered that it is to provide animal-centered medical care for animals. He also said that he is a messenger for animals that do not speak human language, and that it is the role of veterinarians to tell their owners what they should do for their animals. I believe that this attitude is important in the field of exotic animals, but even more important for companion animal veterinarians since they have to build closer relationships between animals and people. In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to Dr. Kenichi Tamukai for sharing his valuable insights with us.