Meet the team

Learn more about our passionate, dedicated, and experienced team of exotic veterinary care providers.

Dr. Catherine Thomas


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.

Lizzie Bailey

RVN APVN Zoo – Registered Vet Nurse

Lizzie has been working in practice since 2016, qualified in 2021, and is currently studying for her exotics certificate. Her special interest is animal behaviour & husbandry.

Having previously worked at a local zoo, she has already worked with a range of animals from armadillos to zebras and is experienced with training and flying parrots and birds of prey.

Lizzie has a small ‘zoo’ of her own at home – she lives with her cocker spaniel, a bengal cat, two ferrets, Gordon the box turtle (who she rescued on her first week of working here) as well as two snakes and the giant millipedes – along with zoo keeping partner, Jack!

Alongside her nursing duties in practice, she also offers boarding services, specialising in reptiles and amphibians. She is often taking patients home with her for a gold standard holiday experience, while owners are away.

You can book nurse consults with Lizzie for advice regarding diet, nutrition, hibernation, behaviour and training. She can also do conscious nail clips and post-op checks! These appointments are £30 and half an hour long.

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!

Toby Samkin

Veterinary Care Assistant

Having previously worked at another practice in a similar role, Toby already has a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience. He has always had a passion for animal care and is an exotics owner himself.

He lives with his partner Steph and their furry family consisting of 2 dogs, 2 cats, 2 leopard geckos, 2 guinea pigs, 1 budgie and a Mediterranean spur thighed tortoise called Lisa! 🐢

Toby has already proven to be invaluable: getting stuck in with the big premises move, learning our system in record time, supporting the vets with handling patients and all with a smile!

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