Small Animal Pet Care
Dogs and cats may be renowned as a human's best friend, but small animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas can be wonderful pets too! Even hamsters and mice can make wonderful little friends, and no matter how small they are, they can take up a great place in your heart.
When you decide to bring a small animal into your home, keep in mind that you're responsible for essentially creating this little being's entire world. You want to build a safe, comfortable habitat that feels like home. And you want to maintain the best quality of life for your tiny friend!
Here are some important tips for caring for these small creatures and giving them the life they deserve.
A Good Cage for a Small Pet
Most small mammals gnaw, so you can't put them in a wooden structure because they'll make a hole through it! Instead, use a wire cage with a solid floor covered in soft bedding, like wood shavings or grass. The wire walls should be a tight enough weave to be escape-proof, and preferably too small of a weave for your critter to even try it.
Some animals, like hamsters and mice, enjoy living in plastic tunnel cages that provide an interesting and expandable habitat. Regardless of type, you should always make sure the cage is large enough that your pet has plenty of room. Provide a nest box or sheltered bed in the corner for your pet to retreat to when he wants to hide. It's okay to use wood if it's non-toxic and safe to gnaw, as you can replace the box when needed and some small mammals like to chew on their homes. They do in fact need something they can gnaw on to keep their teeth healthy.
Food and Water
Your small pets should have a varied diet that includes healthy pellets, grasses & hay, fresh vegetables and fruit, seeds and nuts. It's pretty easy to provide a good meal plan for a small mammal because pet supply stores like Doggy Friend carry food mixes specifically created to provide a balanced diet. Food can be placed in a bowl or a small trough attached to the cage wires. You can also find small mammal treats made from dried veggies, fruit, and seeds! Most small mammals drink best from water bottles since a bowl usually gets contaminated quickly with bedding.
You can also give your little friend some treats, in the form of fresh vegetables like carrots and parsley. It's very rewarding to watch an excited rabbit chowing down on a carrot!
Some small mammals, especially rabbits and guinea pigs, love being allowed outside into a pen where they can play in the grass. To create a pen like this, you'll need to make sure the bottom of the cage walls extends below the ground so they can't slip underneath it (since there's no bottom).
To keep your critters safe during outdoor playtime, never leave them unsupervised, and ensure the area inside and around their pen is free of litter and pesticides. Make sure you know what kinds of predators exist in your area. Small animals outdoors are at risk from not only cats, dogs, raccoons and other mammals, but also from hawks and other carnivorous birds. Even though you'll be watching your little pets as they enjoy the outdoors, some predators are extremely stealthy and fast.
Sharing a Home
It's natural to wonder if you should get a companion for your little pet. There are a few things to consider before you decide: is the small mammal you're interested in a social animal or is it solitary? Also, are you prepared for dealing with babies? Both of these are concerns, so read up on your intended small pet before you house more than one together!
While small mammals should only live alone or with their own kind, some get along very well during playtime, even if they're a different species. Rabbits and guinea pigs are a good example, as they get along very well and form friendships with one another if you introduce them carefully. However, most small mammals don't speak the same "language" and should always be kept apart. Guinea pigs don't do well with hamsters, for instance. In any case, even if you have two different-species small pets that get along well, they should live in their own cages and only interact during indoor or outdoor playtime.
These are only the basics of caring for your small mammal friend. You have a world of interesting facts to learn, and years of wonderful companionship ahead of you. Find as much information as you can about your new pet and you might be surprised at what you can learn. Some of these little creatures are very intelligent and can be trained. Some will even try to communicate with you in their own way. And they can definitely come to love you.
If you need more pet supplies at any time, Doggy Friend has everything you need for small animals as well as larger ones.