Caring for Small Animals: Hamsters, Mice, Rats, & Chinchillas
Small animals as pets
When referring to small animals as pets, it tends to represent any small mammal pet, such as hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, chinchillas, degus, etc.
Small animals are great apartment pets, and pets for those people who don't have the time for a dog or cat, but want a pet to come home to at night. (Although they do require some attention.)
You can really make a small animal a part of your family, especially if you can't have a dog or a cat. I've known families who have had hamsters because they lived in an apartment. They would watch TV with the pet hamster, everyone hanging out on mom and dad's bed. Whenever the hamster got loose, they always found him in the parent's room.
Small animals make great pets for young children. It teaches them responsibility or caring for another life, but they still need a mature adult to help over see the care. For the most part, if you get your child really interested, they'll do all the work for you. For example, my little cousin has a pet guinea pig named Sugar. Sugar and my cousin watch TV together, play video games, color, do crafts and homework together. They are truly a pair. She cares for the guinea pig all by herself, monitoring the feeding and the vitamin drops in the water.
When trying to decide upon the best small animal pet for your family, make sure to do all your research first.
Hamsters are probably one of the more popular small animal pets. Because they are relatively small, they take up less space, which is appealing to most parents, but many people don't really know what they're getting into when they bring home that cute teddy bear hamster or pair of Siberian dwarf hamsters.
Hamsters are usually pretty robust creatures, but they are susceptible to several common disorders and health concerns. Because they are so small, you want to keep a close eye on your hamster so to notice any signs of a health concern as early as possible, as once it sets in, it may be too late.
Wet tail is probably the most common health concern in regards to hamsters. Without treatment from a vet or a simple bottle of Dri-Tail, the likelihood of your pet making it through it slim. Make sure that you understand the symptoms so that you can spot them right away.
Although fancy mice and fancy rats look similar, they really have nothing in common. You definitely can't consider mice a miniature rat. Fancy mice will play on you, but not with you. They don't tend to interact with you as much as pet rats do. Plus, fancy mice need a lot more socialization to reduce the risk of biting, than rats. There are really so many differences between the two pets, you really need to understand them all before jumping into purchasing a pet mouse.
Rats are probably one of the most social small animal pets. They are, also, least likely to bit. Rat love attention, so you want to make sure to get at least two rats from the start, otherwise just one rat may get bored and destructive, plus he'll be lonely. Yes, they really do get lonely. Plus, when you have more than one rat, you really get to enjoy them and their cute ratty behaviors; they'll even give you more attention than just one rat alone because the other rat doesn't want the first to have you all to himself, so he will play with you, which makes the first want to play even more.
Although, they are fairly small creatures, rats need a decent sized enclosure. They need toys to play with and things to climb on, so in order to give them that, you have to purchase a larger cage. They love climbing on the walls and all over the ramps and ledges.
Rats are very intelligent creatures, and enjoy various toys in and out of their cage. Make sure that you are aware of items that your pet rat will enjoy. Also, consider some of the fun games that you can play with him.
Because rats are very smart creatures, they are easy to train. With the right amount of patient you can have your pet rat sitting and coming to you. It's actually a pretty simple process that takes just a little time and know-how.
Rats are usually really healthy animals, but they can suffer from a few common illness, usually relating to their respiratory system. You want to make sure to catch any illness before it gets too late, so make sure that you are familiar with common signs and symptoms.
It's a common misconception that you can feed rats anything and everything. I mean they eat the garbage right... Wrong... There are some foods you want to avoid, and some that you may want to add to your pet's diet. Find out the safe and healthy treats that you can give your pet rat(s).
Again remember that there are some foods that you want to avoid giving your pet rat(s), so make sure that you know which foods those are. Find out a simple homemade diet that you can supplement with regular rat blocks.
These are fun recipes that you and your pet rat(s) will enjoy. They are healthy treats that you can cook up for you and share with yoreu pet.
You should never let treats become more than 10% of your pets diet, so even when you make healthy, homemade treats you want to make sure to ration them out. Make sure that your pet rat(s) main diet is a healthy rat block.
Chinchillas may seem like a cute pet while you're checking out all the animals at the pet store, but they're not the best pet for everyone. They are more of an exotic pet than your average hamster, guinea pig, rabbit, or rat. Make sure to do all the research you possible can before you bring home a pair of chinchillas.
Chinchillas a not the most robust pet, but they are pretty robust and healthy. The problem with chinchillas is that they have 1) very sensitive respiratory systems and 2) extremely fragile skeletal systems. You can't spray aerosols around them, and you certainly can't squeeze them in your arms. Be prepared to watch your chinchilla extra close because when an illness sets in, and you begin to notice signs and symptoms, it's probably too late.
Like any pet, you want to have a first aid kit available for your chinchillas. Although, you cannot cure or fully treat an ailment with a simple first aid kit, you can make your chinchilla comfortable until the next day when the vet is open. Being that you've invested your time, money, and heart into this little creature, make sure that you understand diagnosis techniques and alternative medicines.
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