October 2019: Vets4Pets Blog
How to keep your small animals happy
Small pets such as hamsters, rats, guinea pigs, gerbils and degus are popular pets. They each have their own husbandry requirements and it is important to get these right in order to keep them happy and healthy.
We recommend doing your research and consider the following before taking on the responsibility of ownership:
Housing: enclosures should be in a warm, dry and draught free area. It is important to ensure they have enough space, toys and exercise time to keep them stimulated. They benefit from time outside of their enclosure but this needs to be in a secure room or an exercise ball so you don’t lose them!
Bedding: this ideally needs to be absorbent and dust free. Some pets such as degus and chinchillas need regular dust baths.
Environmental enrichment: this can be simple homemade toys using cardboard boxes, toilet tubes or something bought from a pet store. Be sure to change it regularly and supervise them to avoid injury or inappropriate ingestion.
Nutrition: each species has its own nutritional requirement so it is important to get it right and to recognise abnormal signs e.g. gut stasis in rabbits or overlong teeth.
Companionship: some species are herd animals e.g. rabbits and guinea pigs. However some are better as individuals such as Syrian hamsters. If you are keeping pets in groups, ensure they are neutered or kept in same sex groups to prevent unwanted litters. (N.B. sometimes keeping unneutered males together can result in fighting, so seek advice first)
If you have considered the above, it is worth looking at local rescue centres. They often have a wealth of knowledge and it gives a pre-loved pet a second chance.
The RSPCA and PDSA websites have further useful information.
If you would like further advice, feel free to speak to one of our friendly team at Kingswood Vets4Pets on 0117 9616 417.