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Guinea PigsHamstersGerbilsMice & Rats Chinchillas 

 

 

General Rodent Info

Hamsters, gerbils, rats and mice are members of the rodent family. They have long upper and lower incisors (front teeth) that grow continuously. These rodents require material to gnaw, in order to keep their incisors sharp and worn to the proper length. Hay, cardboard tubes and wood (apple, pear, willow) are all suitable for your rodent to chew on. Generally, rodents are more active at night and can be quite noisy!


Hamsters are solitary animals. Do not keep males and females together in one cage as they will fight - often to the death. Two females or two males may be kept together in a large enclosure if they have been raised together since birth. Watch them closely to be sure they get along -- separate if necessary. At temperatures below 15 C hamsters may get very lethargic. Slightly cooler temperatures could send your hamster into a form of hibernation. Your hamster may appear to be comatose or dead, yet merely be in a deep sleep. Their normal life span is two to three years.


Gerbils have a life span of four to six years. These animals are social creatures who like to live in groups. Keep pairs of males or females. Gerbils are also known as Mongolian desert mice.


Mice live 3-4 years, while rats can reach 4-6 years. Rats are very intelligent and require a stimulating environment to explore and play in. Both species are social and can be kept in pairs of the same sex.

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Housing

 

A cage measuring 60 x 30 x 30 cm. is a minimum size for hamsters, gerbils and mice. Rats require larger habitats. Absorbent materials such as white wood shavings should be used to line the cage bottom. Gerbils and hamsters like to dig and burrow so adding a layer of peat moss allows them to exercise this behavior. Clean the cage often -- at least once a week. Inside the cage, rodents should have a cardboard or wooden house, toys such as plastic tubes and small boxes, some shredded tissue for nest building and an exercise wheel for smaller rodents. Secure cages are a necessity as rodents, especially hamsters and rats, are real escape artists.

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Diet

 

A common cause of death in rodents is neglect. These animals are small and can easily be forgotten. They must be fed fresh food and clean water daily. Once a week the cage and water bottle should be cleaned thoroughly. This can easily be handled by a child, but parents should check regularly to make sure the animal is well cared for.

 Commercial pellet foods made especially for your particular species of rodent provide the basis of your pet's daily nutritional requirements. Hamsters, gerbils, mice and rats are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and meat (or insects). Fresh fruit, seeds, nuts, vegetables and even small bits of meat should supplement the commercial pellet food. Pellets should be available for the rodent at all times, but be sure to remove any uneaten fresh food after eight hours because it will spoil. All rodents should also be given plenty of clean hay daily. Hamsters and gerbils will tend to hoard food so don't be surprised to find hidden caches of food when you clean the cage.

 Clean water is most easily dispensed from sipper bottles, but be sure the nipple is low enough to be reached by the smallest and weakest animal in the cage. Sanitize the water bottle once a week in a dishwasher or wash in hot soapy water and rinse well.

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Behavior

 

It is uncommon for one of these pets to be vicious, but they will bite when handled too quickly or roughly. To pet a rodent, slowly pick it up by cradling or cupping your hands, then place the animal on a flat surface with a bit of food. Gently stroke the back. Repeat this every day, as often as you can, and soon you will have a little friend that trusts you.

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Health 

Lumps, bumps and broken legs are a rodent's most common medical problem. Broken bones are often sustained from falls, so it is best to handle your animal while sitting down. Your veterinarian should be consulted if you animal suffers from these or any other problems, such as diarrhea, hair loss, excessive water drinking or not eating.

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Breeding

 

 As S.P.C.A. shelters regularly receive unwanted pet rodents, it is recommended that careful consideration be given before breeding your animal.  If you would like another animal, visit your shelter and give one a home.  If you have a pregnant animal, consult a pet care book or veterinarian to make sure you are providing proper care.


Click on the pet below for more info.

Guinea PigsHamstersGerbilsMice & Rats Chinchillas 

 

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