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Meet The Team

Meet our dedicated team with combined 20+ years of experience caring for and treating exotic species. We are also all exotics owners!

Dr. Catherine Thomas BVM&S MRCVS CertAVP (ZooMed) - Head Veterinary Surgeon 

Catherine has been treating the exotic pets of Suffolk for nearly a decade, but this all started long before that. Over twenty years ago Catherine was first introduced to some more unusual pets by a primary school teacher; she became fascinated by them and begged her parents to let her have a pet snake. That was just the start, over the years many more species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals were added to the collection. 

A love of these animals combined with a thirst for science led to the realisation that there was only one career which could ever fulfil her dreams. 
There were times when these pets of hers needed Veterinary attention; the difficulties in finding an exotic animal vet and the limitations involved reinforced Catherine’s desire to be an exotic animal vet so that she could improve the situation for future generations of pets and their owners.

Over the years Catherine has put many extra hours into learning about these creatures which are ignored or at best skimmed over on the Veterinary courses.

She has worked for and with some of the UK’s leading exotic animal specialists and has attended as many conferences as possible to keep up to date with the latest advancements in the field. This has been helped by being a member of the British Veterinary Zoological Society and the European Association of Avian Veterinarians.

Catherine completed the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice in exotic animal medicine. This is a postgraduate qualification which involves examinations and assessment of submitted cases which proves her knowledge and abilities in exotic animal medicine and is overseen by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (the governing body of Veterinary Surgeons). 

She is particularly proud of her distinction in the small mammals part of the certificate. Attainment of this certificate along with other proof of her work with exotic animals means that she has been recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as an Advanced Practitioner in the field of exotic animal medicine.

Catherine was a part of the team who organised the ICARE 2019 conference in London, ICARE is Europe's largest Veterinary conference for exotic species which is held in different cities around Europe. In 2019 it came to London where they hosted over 700 of the world's exotic vets who came to learn and share experiences.


Dr. Michaela Betts BVetMed MRCVS - Veterinary Surgeon

Michaela qualified in 2018 from the Royal Veterinary College in London. After being heavily involved in the university’s Zoological Society and carrying out placements at multiple exotic referral centres, she moved to East Sussex where she worked with local wildlife and exotic animals, as well as dogs and cats. Seeking a job where she could better follow her passion and love for exotics, Michaela joined the team at Suffolk Exotic Vets in July 2021.

Her favourite part of the job is meeting all of the brilliant animals that come through our doors, really getting to know them, and, of course, bribing them with treats! She is well-known in the practice for talking, even singing, to her patients: “Guinea Pig Bridge” is a particular favourite. Michaela thoroughly enjoys working with the 

veterinary students that undertake placements with us, helping the next generation of vets learn how to care for the more weird and wonderful.

Always looking to further develop her skills, Michaela is currently studying to complete her Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice in Zoological Medicine. She is a member of the British Veterinary Zoological Society and volunteers with the membership side of their website team.

In her spare time, Michaela enjoys recurve archery, board games, baking, and is currently learning how to skateboard. She lives with her two rescue rabbits, Wilf and Martha, and her hamster, Sir Percival. She is passionate about the health and welfare of all species (scaled, feathered, and furred alike) and has a particular affinity for small mammals.


Jo Hambling - Practice Administrator & Veterinary Care Assistant

As Practice Administrator, Jo ensures that the daily operations of the Suffolk Exotic Vets clinic run smoothly. As head of the client care team, it is her job to look after all of the humans - whether that be our clients or our staff!

Jo first joined the SEV team as a Veterinary Care Assistant, when the practice first opened in October 2020. She now spends her clinic days caring for patients and ensuring that our gold standard level care is not only given to the animals, but to their owners too! 
She is a member of the British Veterinary Receptionist Association. She is currently studying for her Registered Veterinary Receptionist award. An RVR is someone who has completed the BVRA’s bronze, silver and gold modules and who has agreed to work in accordance with the BVRA’s Guide to Conduct and Contribution​ for veterinary receptionists.

She is also a proud member of the British Veterinary LGBT+ Association. 

She has always been deeply passionate about animal welfare, behaviour, and rehabilitation; with lifelong experience of rescuing and caring for various exotic animals and domestic pets.

Growing up her family had a smallholding with a lot of aviaries, full of gorgeous birds; she has always felt a special connection to birds in general, especially parrots. 

Some of her favourite exotic pets include Willow the Continental Giant house rabbit, Dusty the Chinchilla, Kali her Royal Python, and the many rescue rats she has had over the years!

Before joining Suffolk Exotic Vets Jo completed her Veterinary Assistant Diploma, as well as a diploma in Zoology, both with distinction awards. She has also finished studying to get her certificate in Exotic Animal Care.

Outside of work she spends time with her friends attending music and burlesque performances, and likes to relax, spending time with her family and rescue dogs: Skipper the GSDX and Dixie a Doberman cross. Her favourite hobbies include kayaking, hiking through the countryside, and settling into a comfortable café with a good book! 



Aicha Aboudinar RVN - Registered Veterinary Nurse

Aicha joined us in December 2022, from Dublin. She completed her BSc in Veterinary Nursing from Technological University of the Shannon in Ireland in 2021, having returned as a mature student to fulfil her dream of working with animals.

She was first drawn to animals in this way when she travelled to Nambia at 19 years old to volunteer with big cats and primates while studying for her first qualification, a BSc in Science Zoology; which she completed in 2010 from University College Dublin. She also went on to help at an elephant charity in Sri Lanka and has travelled to South America and East Africa to watch conservation at work and animals in their natural habitat.

Following her veterinary nursing degree Aicha worked initially within small animal veterinary and then gained vital experience in one of the most highly regarded exotic clinics in Ireland before joining us at SEV. 

As well as this, Aicha worked previously in retail for years and also holds a BSc in Baking and Pastry Arts Management so brings lots of different experience to her role as a veterinary nurse.

Conservation is extremely important to Aicha and assisting native and non-native wildlife is a real passion of hers and she is very excited about working with the seals in the Suffolk area! She volunteered with Dublin zoo for three years educating visitors on the residents and conservation and she would love to continue doing something similar here in the UK.

She is a member of the AZEVN and is planning to partake in more study in the new year to further educate herself on exotic veterinary, particularly on birds and reptiles. 
She is dedicated to nursing care and making sure all our hospitalised patients are cosy and comfortable while away from their families.

In her spare time Aicha loves spending time at home with her husband Ilyas and her cat Chai watching movie marathons, trying new cuisines and listening to a wide genre of music.  
Travel continues to be a huge part of her life and she loves nothing more than immersing herself in a country's culture and their way of life. Aicha loves sport and in particular watching football and tries regularly to go to Sheffield with her family to watch their favourite team play.


Lucy Trudgill - Receptionist

Lucy first stepped foot into the veterinary industry when she was 15 years old and undertook a work experience placement at a veterinary practice. Since then, she has worked in an array of different veterinary practices as a receptionist, acting as a first point of contact for pet owners. Her deep love of animals has inspired her to take on many injured animals over the years, and she has successfully hand-reared many orphan creatures who have all gone onto fabulous homes.

At home, Lucy has a black labrador called “Herbert,” a rescue cat called “Bonnie”, and two teenage sons. However, she has kept a menagerie of animals including rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, dogs, cats, and horses. In her spare time she enjoys walks on the beach, spending time with her family and friends, and reading books.