August 2015

Keeping Your Small Animals Happy

Guinea pig with a mini trolley

Many people hear the word ‘rodent’ or ‘hamster’ and want to run a mile! But for many of us, these are our family pets. It’s just as important to keep your smaller animals happy and healthy, as it is to keep your dog energised and well groomed. Each species of rodent (hamster, gerbil, chinchillas, guinea pig, rabbit, rat etc.) is very unique and they all have individual requirements when it comes to keeping them happy and healthy.

Therefore it can be difficult to summarise all of their requirements as each pet will need and want something different. With this said, the essential facts and information on these fury little creatures, that you need to know, are listed below!

1. Food – when rodents are in the wild they will graze and hunt for scraps of food; therefore your pet will really appreciate the fact that they can graze on their pet food in the comfort of their own home. Each small rodent will eat a different type of pet food, so it is important that you do your full research on the specific foods available. If it doubt- you can always visit your local pet store and purchase the pre-packaged complete food mixes (these will always state what animals can and cannot eat the food mix).

Rats- can eat egg and chicken

Hamsters- can eat apple (seedless), Banana, cooked chicken

Gerbils- can eat apple, melon, cucumber, carrot

Rabbits- Chard and Courgette

Guinea pigs- peppers, tomatoes and broccoli

Rodents cannot eat grapes- these are poisonous and can be extremely dangerous

2.Bedding- Again, what type of bedding your rodent requires is specific to the individual pet. However, all rodents appreciate and need bedding in their cages to ensure they feel safe and protected. Much like in the wild, your fury friend will want to know that they are safe, and by keeping their cage filled with the correct bedding will ensure that they are warm and comfortable, but also if they ever feel unsafe or scared, they know they can hide.

3. Overcrowded Cages-Overcrowding cages is a major issue when it comes to rodents. They can feel that they have to start fighting for food and water if the cage is overcrowded, which in result, will cause conflict between your pets. Gerbils for example, have to be kept in at least pairs as they are very sociable animals that don’t like been on their own. However, if one becomes more dominant then this can cause tension and fighting. Therefore it is extremely important to not overcrowd your rodent’s cage, and keep plenty of food and water inside to keep them happy and content at all times.

4. Time commitment – in comparison with dogs, small rodents are relatively low maintenance- however with this said, they do require your attention and love just like any other pet. Their cages need to be cleaned and changed every 1-2 weeks and they love been handled and loved.

5. What will I need before purchasing my pet?

– Water bottle

– Correct food

– A safe and appropriate cage

– Bedding and nesting material

– Food bowl

– Treats

– A mineral stone and vitamin supplements

– A nesting box

– Tubes to play in

As all rodents are different, it takes time and patience to research what they need to ensure they have a happy life. If in doubt, contact your local vet who will always be more than happy to advice you with any issues that you may have. 

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