Caring for your hamster
Hamsters make a good family pet. They are very popular with children. A healthy diet and hygienic conditions will help keep your hamster in good health. As with all rodents, hamsters’ teeth grow constantly so it is important to provide wooden toys, mineral stones or treats for gnawing on. Keep its cage out of drafts to keep it warm. In cold weather give your pet more bedding and consider moving its cage to a warmer area. If it gets too cold it may become inactive as if it is hibernating. They tend to be more active at night and sleep during the day. As with most animals, hamsters can get stressed by various things so if their behaviour changes or it looks unwell contact your vet.
Where do they live? A cage is required for your pet, plus some bedding, exercise wheel, plus wood shavings for the bottom of its cage. You will also need a food bowl & water bowl. (Check with your pet shop to get a full list of requirements).
What do they eat? A good quality hamster mix obtained from pet stores will contain the ingredients for a balanced diet. They also like small quantities of apples and carrot from time to time – but not too often as this can cause an upset stomach.
Playtime providing toys and hiding treats around the cage will stimulate your pet’s behaviour. If you own a cat, buy a cage with a strong top to give your hamster security. Keep your cat away from the hamster.
Handling When you first get a hamster, give it a day or two to get used to its surroundings without being disturbed. You can then start introducing yourself to it gradually talking to it first, so that it knows your voice. Next you can introduce your hand into the cage perhaps with a treat, so that it gets used to you and being handled. It will then become confident and friendly.
Caring for your Rabbit Rabbits are friendly and inquisitive animals. With the correct diet and care they can live for many years.
Where do they live? A rabbit should be housed in a hutch. As a general guideline, the hutch should be tall enough for your rabbit to stand on its back legs, with enough floor area to allow it to hop 3-4 steps in any direction. The more rabbits you have the larger the hutch you will need. You will need to line the floor with newspaper & provide straw bedding. (Check with your local pet shop for exact advice).
Rabbits like to play so make sure your pet has a variety of toys to play with. Activity tunnels and small boxes are a good start. (Check out your local pet shop to see what is stocked).
Handling Rabbits need time to get used to their surroundings. In the first few days, talk to the pet and stroke it gently but do not pick it up until it is used to you.There is much to know about keeping a rabbit so please find out as much as you can before buying one.
Caring for your Chinchilla
Chinchillas are nocturnal animals and so sleep during the day and are more active at night. They are easy to look after and once used to their handler are normally very sociable. As they can live up to 20 years, a decision to have one should not be taken lightly.
Where do they live? A large cage is required for your pet, plus sawdust for the bottom of its cage. You will also need a food bowl & water feeder. They do not like noise so make sure the cage is placed somewhere quiet and well ventilated but not draughty. There should be a wooden box for your pet to sleep in and hide in. As your pet will try to chew on many things, you will need to get some wooden items from your pet store. Check with your pet shop to get a full list of items for your pet’s well being.
What do they eat? The digestive system of the chinchilla is very delicate. It is therefore important to feed the correct diet. Chinchilla’s require a high fibre diet to keep their digestive track healthy. Providing a high fibre diet encourages your pet to chew and grind its food thereby preventing its teeth from over growing and creating problems. You can buy chinchilla pellets from your pet store where you can take advice on the best make to buy which will provide a high fibre content for your pet. It is very important to keep an eye on your chinchilla’s teeth as they grow all the time and may need a visit to your vet if they become too long. Providing a healthy diet and items to chew on will all assist in keeping the teeth in check. (Check with your local pet shop for further information on food and discuss your pet’s teeth with your vet if you are at all concerned).
Playtime Chinchilla’s like to play so make sure your pet has a variety of toys to play with. (Check out your local pet shop to see what is stocked). Don’t forget to provide your pet with a sand bath/box. They do not bath in any water but sand. They need to bath in the sand to clean their thick coat. All that is needed is a wooden box large enough for it to be filled with sand for your pet to roll around in. Reputable pet stores sell special sand for chinchillas. A sand bath should be provided every day for 10 minutes or every other day. It should be removed after use. Left in the cage, the animal may use it too frequent which can lead to a very dry coat.
Handling It may once again take time before your pet is used to you handling it. Start by first letting your new pet smell you hand as you approach its cage. Once it is used to you, offer it some food by hand such as a raisin or pellet. It may eventually then allow you to pick it up but it may take time.
Cleaning – Small animals cage
Ensure you clean your pet’s cage out at least one a week using a pet-safe cleaner. Cover the floor of the cage with the correct type of bedding for your animal. Your pet store will suggest the best type to suit your pet.
Grooming Hamsters and Rabbits require some grooming. Regular grooming will ensure that you have a good bond with your pet. (Read up on exactly how often you should groom your pet from the many helpful books and pamphlets available from pet stores).
Illnesses Check out what illnesses may affect your hamster or rabbit so that you know how to cope should it become ill. Ensure you check with your vet what vaccinations are required for your small pets & how to maintain a good diet and lifestyle to keep them happy.