David Vella 

BSc BVSc (Hons) Diplomate ABVP (Exotic Companion Mammal Practice)

Director, Sydney Exotics and Rabbit Vets


Experience: Small animal veterinarian in UK and Sydney 2007-2003. Exclusively exotics veterinarian 2004 – present.


Why Vets Love Him:

The first Australian vet to become Diplomate of American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in Exotic Companion Mammal Practice, Dr David Vella is also author to several papers and contributor to textbooks. Frequently involved in providing continuing education to vets and nurses via online courses, practical courses and seminars/conference presentations in Australia and Internationally, Dr Vella is also an Education Leader at the upcoming VetPrac Workshop: Rabbit Surgery and Dentistry.


Why We Love Him:

Dr Vella likes to spend time with family,  “two boys under five years at home makes for fun and busy times!”  “I also like travel, music, cooking and gardening.”


On Rare Days Off…

It’s “Family time! When at home, cooking and gardening – I like the balance of ‘here you go’ (cooking) and ‘wait and see’ (gardening).”


Words from our Specialist:

“Rabbit dentistry can be a challenging and rewarding area to hone your skills. Owing to the continuous growth of their teeth, the rabbit mouth is dynamic in its appearance and can change from week to week, especially when dental disease is present. Knowledge of normal anatomy and radiographic changes are essential when working in this area. Getting the right radiographic projections of the skull is especially important in diagnosing and formulating treatment plans. Managing the patient perioperatively and anaesthetically add to the overall challenge.”


What to Look Out For:

“Rabbits have an extensive orbital venous sinus which can become your friend or foe when performing an enucleation procedure. If you inadvertently cut into this you rapidly experience a blood filled surgical site and stemming the blood flow can be challenging. We’ll learn how to carefully avoid this in our VetPrac classes.”


Experience that You Won’t Learn from a Textbook:

“Intubating and anaesthetising small mammals – especially rabbits! Anaesthesia of rabbits doesn’t need to be a ‘scary’ procedure.”

“Enrofloxacin is not the ‘go-to’ drug for all exotics patients! Exotics patients can receive fluid therapy that is not confined to just subcutaneous crystalloid injections. They can have crystalloids, colloids, and blood transfusions. They can be delivered readily intravenously and intraosseously via metered pumps.”

“Enrofloxacin usually doesn’t help (when used alone) to treat rabbit dental infections. Yes, some penicillins (more suited to treat the mixed – often anaerobic infections associated with rabbit dental infections) can be used and are commonly employed for this in rabbits.”

“One of the most important and commonly employed surgical techniques to learn in exotic companion mammal practice is intradermal (or subcuticular) suturing for skin incisions/wounds.”

Advice to New Graduates:

“Try to work with as many vets as possible. Making mistakes is an important part of learning. Talk and share experiences regularly with your colleagues. If you want to pursue exotics medicine and surgery, consider getting some exposure to dog/cat practice first. There are also many great resources to be found in the North American and European veterinary exotics field.”


A VetPrac exclusive interview by Stephanie Buelna.

Dr David Vella is an Education Leader for the  upcoming VetPrac workshop: Rabbit Surgery and Dentistry. For workshop information, contact Dr Ilana Mendels [email protected]


For questions regarding exotic animal surgery, feel free to contact Dr Vella at [email protected] or check out his website