The do's & don'ts of mice, rats, hamsters and bunnies

While extra small pets are super cute and playful, they are not all the same and each has different needs. Before you decide to bring your tiny bundle of joy home, you need to do your homework carefully. We look at some basic guidelines on how to take care of extra small animals, the do’s and don’ts and how to be an awesome “pocket pet owner”.

HOUSING

  • Small animals require specialised housing. Mice, rats, hamsters  and rabbits need a wire cage with small spacing so that their heads cannot get through it,  you don’t want this little cutie to make a run for it!
    Choose a cage that is the right size for your new pet – there should be space to place his food and treats, water, an area to sleep, exercise and play.  The cage should also be very secure to prevent your other pets from making a meal of the tiny one!
  • Rabbits are often kept as house pets and can be trained to use a litter tray.
  • Bedding and litter is also needed for the cages. There are various types of bedding available for small animals but not all of them are appropriate. Check with your vet or pet store when choosing bedding that it’s safe for your pet. Pine bedding is NOT RECOMMENDED for mice and rats. The same applies when buying litter as certain litter may cause allergic reactions, skin irritations and respiratory problems.  Here at Feelgood Health Pets PetAlive, our range of 100% homeopathic remedies such as Allergy Itch Ease to treat itching and scratching or Respo K to relieve upper respiratory infections are excellent choices for small pets.

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FOOD

  • Feed and give water to your small animal every day. Each small animal’s feeding requirements differs according to their species. For instance, don’t feed your mouse or rat hamster food! This will result in skin problems because the ingredients are too rich. Think about it, would you feed your kitty dog food?
  • Fresh fruit and veggies are great additions to the diet of your small pet. Apples, oranges, and lettuce give them extra nutrients which balances their diet nicely. Make sure that you wash the fruit and veggies properly so that they are free of any chemical and pesticides.
  • Don’t forget about treats! Small animals enjoy their treats too and it’s a fun way to interact with them. There are a wide variety of treats available from chews, drops, bars and wafers – select the right treat for the right pet!
  • Be careful not to OVERFEED your animal – remember they have tiny tummies!  

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EXERCISE

  • Small animals need exercise and fun time just like other larger animals.
  • Mice and rats enjoy having fun running on an exercise ball or through cardboard tubes. You could also put a ladder  for climbing in their cages. 
  • Hamsters love exercise and to run around. Add a wheel or exercise ball for them to run. They are great explorers, so use empty toilet paper rolls or cardboard tubes for them to crawl through. A favourite activity of hammies is gnawing – invest in some safe wood chew or vegetable flavoured toys.   
  • Rabbits need several hours of exercise time per day. They need a safe area to run and jump. If their exercise area is outside, be sure that the area is enclosed by a fence that has been sunk deep into the ground. Watch them if they are outside because they can get lost quickly if they decide to dig under your fence.

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GENERAL CARE

  • Remove uneaten food, soiled bedding and droppings from your small animal’s cage. 
  • Supply fresh food every day
  • Clean and refill the waterbowl or tube every day
  • Replace the bedding twice weekly and clean the cage once a week with warm, soapy water
  • Small pets also need regular annual check-ups at the vet
  • Common signs that may indicate that mice and rats are not well – sneezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, weight loss and lethargy
  • Common signs that may indicate that hamsters are not well – matted fur, dull eyes, shaking, runny nose, diarrhea and weight loss
  • Common signs that may indicate that rabbits are not well  - fur loss, runny eyes and nose, red, inflamed skin, lethargy
  • If possible, have your small pet neutered or be very sure to separate males and females to prevent unwanted litters
  • Brush your bunny regularly with a soft brush to keep his coat in good condition

HAVE A QUESTION related to your pet?
E-mail Feelgood Pets FREE of charge for advice, click here

 

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