• James Dr James Haberfield

    Meet Dr James Haberfield

    BSc, BVMS, PGCBM MANZCVS (Unusual Pets), MANZCVS (Avian Health)

    Dr James is the founder of the Unusual Pet Vets and is one of only a handful of vets in Australia to have passed his exams and gained Membership level accreditation with the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in the field of the Medicine and Surgery of Unusual Pets as well as Avian Health. He really loves working with all of the species and genuinely enjoys the challenge and variation of managing patients unique needs.

    Dr James has also been involved in a range of fieldwork activities from micro-chipping Western Spiny-tailed skinks to filming with King Cobras in India. He has authored numerous scientific papers and contributed to a range of books. James has also presented at a number of veterinary conferences and has made a range of appearances on TV and radio. Together with his dad Chris he maintains a large collection of reptiles including a number of different dragons, monitors as well as some pythons and tree snakes.

    In addition, to his reptile pets, Dr James has two Border Collied called Truffle and Willow, two rescue cats called Moppet and Mittens as well as four chickens that are collectively known as ‘the ladies’

    Outside of work, James really loves getting in the ocean so on his days off you’ll generally find him surfing or kitesurfing. Beyond that, James loves spending time at home with his wife, family and pets.


    Bachelor of Science – BSc

    Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery – BVMS

    Post Graduate Certificate in Business Management – PGCBM

    Member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in the field of the Medicine and Surgery of Unusual Pets – MANZCVS (Unusual Pets)

    Member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in the field of Avian Health (Caged and Aviary Birds) – MANZCVS (Avian Health)


  • Hamish b Dr Hamish Baron

    Dr Hamish Baron

    BVSc (Hons) FANZCVS (Avian Health)

    Dr Hamish Baron is one of a small handful of specialist avian veterinarians in Australia. He moved from New Zealand to study veterinary science at the University of Queensland, after graduation he took a position at UQ as a rotating intern in small animal and exotic pet medicine. Following the internship he took over as Director of the Avian Reptile and Exotic Pet Hospital at the University of Sydney where he was based for four years, also undertaking a residency training programme in Avian Medicine and Surgery.

    Hamish is currently undertaking a PhD exploring novel treatments for Macrorhabdus orthinogaster through the University of Sydney.

    When he’s not working, Hamish can be found in the rivers of northern Tasmania, Victoria or Southern NSW looking for sapphires with his dog, Henrietta, a poodle X who loves to steal socks.

  • Shane Dr Shane Simpson

    Dr Shane Simpson

    BVSc (Hons), GCM (VP), CMAVA

    Dr Shane Simpson is well known amongst the reptile keeping community as “The Reptile Doctor” and brings his wealth of experience in the field of reptile and amphibian medicine and surgery to The Unusual Pet Vets. He regular presents on the topic to fellow veterinarians, veterinary nurses and reptile keepers both here in Australia and internationally. In addition, he has contributed to several veterinary text books, held positions on animal ethics committees and does a considerable amount of work training wildlife rehabilitators about caring for injured reptiles.

    When not working at The Unusual Pet Vets, Shane can be found just up the road still treating dogs and cats at Karingal Veterinary Hospital where he is also a co-owner of the practice.

    Shane has a diverse reptile collection that his wife and two daughters are OK with as long as they stay behind the glass. He also has a big, dopey Bloodhound Cross dog named Butter.

  • Dr. Michelle Sutherland Dr. Michelle Sutherland

    BVM&S, BSc (Hons I), CertAVP (ZooMed), MANZCVS (Avian Health), DipABVP (Avian Practice), MRCVS

    Michelle moved to Australia from the UK in 2012. She has completed a residency training programme in Avian Medicine and Surgery, during which she studied with bird specialists in Australia and the USA. Michelle achieved her specialist status in Avian Practice through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in 2019, and is currently working towards obtaining specialist status in Avian Medicine through the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists.


    By examination, Michelle has achieved Membership of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in Avian Health, and is one of only a few vets in Australia to hold a Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice (CertAVP) in Zoological Medicine, obtained through the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, which included training in the medicine and surgery of birds, rabbits, rodents and ferrets, and reptiles.

    Michelle enjoys working with all kinds of exotic pets, be they feathered, furry or scaly, but has a particular soft spot for birds and small mammals. Her experience working in the UK left her with a love of bunnies that will last for life!

    Before she was a vet, Michelle worked as a wildlife researcher in South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and the UK. She has written a number of scientific papers and is a regular contributor at veterinary conferences.

    Before she was a vet, Michelle worked as a wildlife researcher in South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and the UK. She has written a number of scientific papers and is a regular contributor at veterinary conferences.

    Outside of work, Michelle enjoys spending time with her husband and young daughter and can be found swimming, bushwalking, doing spin classes, wildlife watching and enjoying the produce of the great Australian vineyards. She also plays the ukulele (badly) and enjoys snuggles with her two giant rabbits, Biscuits and Bingo.


    • BVM&S
    • BSc (Hons I)
    • MANZCVS (Avian Health)
    • Cert AVP (ZooMed)
    • Dip ABVP (Avian Practice)
    • MRCVS


    To view Dr Michelle’s authored publications and journal articles, click here.

  • Dr Kiara Simonis - UPV Peninsula Dr Kiara Simonis

    Dr Kiara Simonis

    BSc, DVM

    Since getting her cockatiel as a child, Kiara has dreamed of being an exotics vet. She focused her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine placements on exotic animals to gain as much experience as possible. Dr Kiara was even fortunate enough to do a placement with Dr Shane Simpson along the way.

    As the recipient of the Stephen Ross Memorial Scholarship in 2019, Dr Kiara presented her research project on satellite tracking of rehabilitated Australian raptors at the Unusual Pet and Avian Veterinarians Conference.

    Dr Kiara is a huge lover of all animals but has an extra soft spot for birds and reptiles. Outside of work, Kiara enjoys tending to her oversized indoor plant collection, spending time with her pets and anything that involves the outdoors.

    At home, she is the very proud mother of a bullmastiff called Murphy, grumpy cockatiel Tinkerbell (who she has had since she was 10 years old), and a woma python named Bertie.

  • Vet Nurse Hayley Bradshaw Vet Nurse Hayley

    Meet Hayley, Casual Veterinary Nurse

    I am a Kiwi, born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand.

    I have been a passionate ‘animal person’ for as long as I can remember, and my parents tell me I have been drawn to them since I was quite young.

    I always knew I wanted to work with animals and that I wanted to help them.

    Long before I even began studying to be a vet nurse I knew I wasn’t destined to be a cat and dog nurse, I wanted to explore the more weird and wonderful and was going to work towards that in any way I could.

    I did school holiday programs every year at Auckland Zoo, volunteered for cat rescues and began doing my own pet sitting while also being one of those kids that liked to spend my free time researching different species and animals and watching Animal Planet and Discovery Channel documentaries.

    In 2013 I finally met my goal and completed my Diploma in Veterinary Nursing, then while working part-time as a nurse I completed my Certificate in Animal Management: Captive Wild Animals in 2014.

    Very soon after joining the industry, I was incredibly fortunate to secure a position in one of NZ’s only exotic pet clinics where I spent the next 4 ½ years learning everything I could to be the best exotic nurse I can, eventually stepping into a senior nursing and second nurse in charge role. I have also helped teach many student nurses and given the odd lecture on nursing exotic animals.

    In 2019 I made the major decision to try and progress my knowledge and skills further in wildlife and wild/zoo nursing. I moved to Brisbane and worked in a wildlife hospital there with a whole new world of amazing species and learning mountains of new things every single day!

    Towards the end of 2020, I was offered a contract nursing position at Healesville Sanctuary and moved to Melbourne to take up that amazing opportunity.

    And finally, in March 2021 I joined the incredible Unusual Pet Vets team as a casual nurse while also continuing to nurse casually at Healesville Sanctuary, combining my love of exotic pets and of wildlife, the absolute best of both worlds for me.

    Hobbies and Interests:

    I have a special passion for taking on sick or injured strays and hand-rearing young animals that have been orphaned or injured, animals I have raised include rabbits, rats, mice, cats and a few different bird species.

    Outside of the animal world, I live a quiet life. I like to watch movies, read books, listen to audiobooks and podcasts, mostly crime or fantasy-based.

    My family means the world to me and whenever I can I spend time with them, though this has been very difficult of late with Covid restrictions keeping me away from NZ and video calls have been a must for me.

    In Australia, I have a cat named Zumi and a Stimsons Python named Loki. Both are rescues from the Brisbane RSPCA and travelled with me to Melbourne.

    In New Zealand I have 3 more cats (Isabella, Zac and Elfy) and 2 Chinchillas (Ardie and Keela), Ardie has 3 legs and was a rescue as an injured stray baby brought into the exotic clinic I worked at in NZ.


    Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (NZ)

    Certificate in Animal Management: Captive Wild Animals (Zookeeping)

    Currently studying the Advanced Program in Veterinary Nursing of Exotics, Wildlife and Zoo Animals.


    Cover Story published in NZ Vet Nurse Magazine 2019


  • Erin Vet Nurse Erin

    Erin started working with exotics when she was after a new challenge in her career has been lucky enough to work with some fantastic vets and nurses. She has been able to and will continue to learn and expand her skill base.
    At home she is owned by two lazy dogs, two geckos, two pythons, a conure, a black cockatoo and the human family!

  • Vet Nurse Astin Vet Nurse Astin

    Vet Nurse Astin

    Certificate II Animal Studies

    Astin’s passion for animals aspired from childhood growing up surrounded by animals including dogs, cats, rabbits and an aviary of birds! She was continually researching animals, and her favourite shop to visit was the pet shop!

    Astin began veterinary nursing in a general clinic with dogs and cats but was always intrigued with exotic animals. Since working at The Unusual Pet Vets, Astin has expanded her knowledge and loves learning and working with extraordinary pets. She is also currently completing her Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing.

    Outside of work, Astin enjoys spending time with her family and fur babies and taking on projects in her first home.

    Astin is a proud pet parent to a mini lop rabbit called Henry, and a feline friend called Kevin and an axolotl named Carlos.

  • Gretel-upv-vet-nurse Vet Nurse Gretel

    Meet Gretel, Veterinary Nurse

    Gretel got her first pet which was a rabbit when she was three years old, and bunnies have always been a big part of her life ever since. When she first began her pet ownership journey with bunnies, she realised it was difficult to get the right health and welfare information. Many of the general practice vets she visited weren’t very confident with rabbit medicine and this is what drove her to find every book, article, magazine and website she could to learn about rabbit healthcare. This self-learning eventually led Gretel to veterinary nursing. She began her career in 2016 at an exotic’s veterinary clinic in Sydney and worked there until making the move to Melbourne to join the UPV Peninsula team in mid-2020, where she quickly become the clinic’s #1 bunny snuggler.

    Outside of work, Gretel enjoys gardening and is especially interested in planting and learning about rabbit safe plants. She is a fan of music and dabbles in bunny fur wool crafting, which includes felting and sinning.

    Gretel is also the proud owner of two feline friends, Arlo and Scaredy and has some feathered friends too, a budgie called Budgie Boy, a Cockatiel called Muriel and three King Quail’s called Salvador, Maria and Louisa. 


    Certificate 4 Veterinary Nursing

  • kennel-hand-paityn Kennel Hand Paityn

    Meet Paityn

    Paityn commenced working at the Unusual Pet Vets when she was 13 years old, supporting the team by assisting with cleaning and helping where needed. Two years later, Paityn is up-skilling and having more exposure to clinical duties and patient cases.

    Paityn has always had a love for reptiles, and she is enjoying handling and dealing with snakes. She plans to complete her Certificate IV in Vet Nursing over the coming years while continuing to work with exotics.

    Outside of work, Paityn loves dirt bike riding, the beach and she also has a love of indoor plants.  

    Paityn is a proud pet parent to a dog called Leeroy and a Children’s Python called Kiwi.


    Currently doing Second year Cert II Animal Studies


  • Alianna Vet Nurse Alianna

    Alianna moved to Melbourne in 2016 to pursue her passion in reptile and exotic veterinary medicine after finishing Bachelor of Veterinary Technology at Massey University in New Zealand. She has a strong interest in reptiles, especially elapidae (Venomous snakes), goannas and geckos but absolutely loves caring for all kinds of unusual pets from fluffies to scalies! On her days off work, she likes to go for skateboarding, surfing, rescuing wildlife or being a bookworm and hanging with her 2 kitties: Brad Kitt and Angfelina Joflea, a lorikeet named Señor, and 30+ reptilian pets.

  • Leonie Vet Nurse Leonie

    Meet Veterinary Nurse Leonie

    Leonie started working in the veterinary industry in 2010 at a small animal clinic. She has always had a love for reptiles, having keept reptiles most of her life, and coordinating wild reptile rehabilitation with WIRES for several years in western NSW.

    Leonie also has a love of birds which started with her childhood cockatiel. Birds have become a huge part of her work satisfaction at the Unusual Pet Vets where she has been working since 2018.  

    Outside of work, Leonie’s hobbies include swimming, biking and gardening. She is a proud pet parent to a small black cat named Sora, several different snake species, and a sassy monitor name Tofu.


    Cert 4 veterinary nursing, studying CertVNES(HSAWZ)