Living Here Living In Hong Kong

Meet the vet who loves exotic pets

With space at a premium in Hong Kong homes, many families prefer pets that are on the tiny side as well. Exotic pets are a great option if you want to bring a pet into your family. To care for these small animals, however, you need experts like the ones at Tai Wai Small Animal and Exotic 24 Hour Hospital and its sister clinic Island Exotics. The team has just welcomed a new vet to offer even better care to all their exotic pets. We asked them to introduce Dr Nicola De Girolamo – or Dr Nic for short.

Exotic pets are a specialty for Dr Nic of Island Exotics
Exotic pets are a specialty for Dr Nic of Island Exotics

Tell us a bit about Dr Nic’s background.

He’s an Italian veterinarian who completed an MSc at the University of Oxford and a PhD at the University of Bologna. He became a registered European Specialist by gaining his Diplomate of the European College of Zoological Medicine. Dr Nic has always been interested in exotic pets, their care and their treatment. He is registered in Europe as a specialist in “herpetology”. This means he is a specialist veterinarian for all your turtles, tortoises, snakes, lizards and any other reptiles! Since graduating, he has worked as a clinician and research coordinator at the Clinic for Exotic Animals of Rome – Italy’s leading hospital for the veterinary care of exotic companion animals.

Tell us about Dr Nic’s recent work.

In 2016, Dr Nic was elected vice-president of the World Association of Veterinarians of Exotic Mammals (AEMV). Dr Nic is a strong believer in trying to improve the conditions exotic pets are kept in, as this is critical to ensuring their good health. So, he enjoys spending time talking to owners and helping them create the best possible environments for their pets.

What does he like to do outside of work?

When he’s not working, Dr Nic spends a lot of time researching and writing papers for journals. He has written hundreds of articles for journals around the world. If he does take a break from writing, he likes to travel, surf, and play rugby or chess.

exotic pets: Dr Nic with some lizard patients
Dr Nic with some lizard patients

What’s his favourite animal?

It’s no surprise to find out that he likes all exotic pets! But when pushed he will admit that he has a particular passion for ferrets, chameleons and any turtle or tortoise.

Where will he be working with the team?

As the only veterinarian in HK registered as a European Specialist in Herpetology, Dr Nic brings another new level of expertise to the team. He directly complements Tai Wai and Island Exotics resident veterinarian Dr Zoltan Szabo who is the registered specialist for exotic companion mammals (rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets and so on).

Tai Wai Small Animal and Exotic Hospital and Island Exotics both have separate wards for different species of exotic pets. This provides ideal conditions to allow for recover from surgery or any bout of illness. The hospital is the only 24-hour veterinary hospital in HK that can provide round-the-clock care to exotics as well as cats and dogs.

Tai Wai Small Animal and Exotic Hospital | Lap Wo Building, 69-75 Chik Shun Street, Sha Tin | 2687 1030

Island Exotics | 2/F, Hing Tai Building 139-140 Connaught Road West, Sai Ying Pun | 2858 9388 |

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This article first appeared in the June/July edition of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue!