Deciding to adopt a new small pet and choosing the right one can be a big decision! Be aware of all their special needs and behaviors to ensure you are choosing the right furry friend so you can provide the very best care they deserve.
carefresh is here to give you some helpful tips to ensure your new small pets live a happy, healthy life!
Your Small Pet Diet Needs:
The perfect diet for your small animal will vary by species, but most share common threads like always making sure they have plenty of fresh water!
- Rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas are herbivores and have some similar dietary requirements. They all need a constant supply of nutritious Timothy Hay which should make up 75% of their diet with essential fiber for digestion, dental care and enrichment, along with a pellet food that is specially formulated for them.
- Guinea pigs, like humans, are unable to make their own vitamin C. Because their bodies cannot synthesize or store it, they need to receive around 10-30 mg per day through their diet. Guinea pigs that don’t get enough vitamin C are at risk for scurvy.
- Dark leafy greens and fresh vegetables daily are a great source of vitamins and minerals and all natural treats like strawberries or apples can be given occasionally.
- Hamsters and gerbils, on the other hand, are omnivores and thrive on a high-variety diet consisting of high fiber seeds daily, fresh vegetables and dark, leafy greens every 1-2 days, fruits (no citrus) 1-2 small amounts per week, insects and nuts. (Hamster hideout forum has a great list of foods and how much, how often) http://hamsterhideout.com/forum/topic/96457-safe-and-unsafe-foods-for-hamsters/
- Rats are also ominvores but need higher protein with plenty of dark greens and veggies
Be sure to follow the feeding instructions on the bag and consult your veterinarian with questions regarding proper feeding amounts.
Introduce new foods gradually and watch for any abnormal behaviors. Small pets have very sensitive digestive system, contact your vet if you notice anything amiss, from lethargy to bloating or constipation.
Be careful not to overfeed treats as it will encourage your pet to refuse their nutritious foods or become overweight.
Providing a well-balanced diet is just one part of giving your pet the best care and attention.
Providing the best home for your new small pet:
Guinea pigs and rats, especially need a mate and should always be adopted in pairs. While certain species of hamsters will become very aggressive if they share a home with another hamster. If you are adopting more than one new pet at a time, make sure to scale up their habitat accordingly!
Our sweet small pets are typically very social creatures and will need lots of human interaction. But remember to start slow! To get your new pet used to your presence, you can start by feeding them treats by hand or spending time near their habitat reading or speaking to them gently.
Provide as large of a habitat as possible – remember, bigger is better, with plenty of soft, absorbent carefresh bedding. Spot-clean daily with a full refresh and deep clean every 7-10 days.
Guinea pigs and rabbits need time outside of their cages each day for exercise and play. You’ll want to animal proof their play area and be sure to watch them closely! A playpen works great. If they free roam in your home, be sure to remove or protect any cords, wires, or other hazards.
Small animals have teeth that continuously grow! This is one of the reason hay is so essential for rabbits and guinea pigs, but toys can also help. Providing your small pet with toys will help with mental stimulation and teeth maintenance.
Dry branches from untreated trees, wooden chew toys for birds, any unfinished, unpainted wicker or straw baskets are perfect chewing toys! Toilet paper/paper towel rolls, small empty cardboard cartons also work and are inexpensive.
Hamsters have lots of energy and love to run it out on their exercise wheel! Just be sure it’s large enough so their back stays straight and is anchored so it won’t tip over.
You can easily make sure your pet is feeling your love by providing plenty of space for their home and lots of soft, absorbent carefresh bedding to encourage nesting, playing and burrowing. Just spot-clean daily with a full refresh and deep clean every 7-10 days. Which is the perfect time to switch to a new color or theme!
It’s fun to decorate their home for each season or holiday.
Now that you know more about caring and feeding your small pet, be sure to watch our other videos for other helpful information and tips from carefresh.