Hamsters Fuzzy Balls Of Fun

As a child, most of us grew up with hamsters or friends who had hamsters. Even our children are fascinated with these small fuzzy creatures. There are many types of hamsters, dwarf, Syrian, Russian, Chinese, and hybrid. The hamster is a burrower so they prefer to have lots of bedding to hide under as well as tubes to create little nests in. The most difficult aspect of hamsters is telling if they are female or male. Who has bought two hamsters thinking they were the same gender and ending up with ten hamsters? That unfortunatly can happen.

A lot of biologists use hamsters and other rodents to show genetic possibilities. In genetics, we often discuss how genes are dispersed in relation to eye color, hair color, and other traits. When you have hamsters as pets you are seeing this first hand. You can have one gold hamster and one white hamster. When they breed you can end up with several color traits from gold, white, black, white and black to many more. Half the fun for kids is seeing the baby hamsters grow up with different colors. It can be a great science project for school as well as having a wonderful pet.

Hamsters are relatively easy to take care for. You can feed them hamster food, vegetables, and little hamster treats, chew sticks, and yogurt drops. The bedding should be changed weekly or twice a week depending upon how many hamsters you have. The biggest downside to hamsters is their short life span. Most live only a year or two.

There are lots of hamster accessories you can get from tubes to wheels. Hamsters like other pets need to have exercise so giving them wheels to run on or having a hamster ball to run around the house is actually good for them. The tubing and cages come in a variety of colors to add to childrens fun. You can create straight pathways to other larger home areas or curve them around to reenter the same cage. Most of the caging is plastic and your hamster will try to chew or claw there way free. You will want to monitor their activity when you clean the cage to make sure they are not producing a hole that they can then escape out of. Some hamster owners go with a metal wire cage with tiny slits to avoid the chewing escape. Your preference will determine the type of accessories you purchase for your cage.

Handling hamsters should be done at certain times and you should always wash your hand before and after. Hamsters can have a tendency to bite if they are not handled at least once a day or if they become scared. Hamsters are noctournal so be careful when you wake them up they can be a bit grumpy. Be cautious with little children and make sure they knw how to handle them correctly.

Hamsters are a lot of fun for all ages whether you have a budding scientist or just want an easy pet your child can care for. You will want to make sure you feed your hamster properly by not over feeding them while maintaining proper exercise. When your hamsters procreate, you will want to separate out the mother and children from the rest of the crew. A cautionary note Dwarf hamsters are very susceptible to infections with cedar chips because it can tear holes in their tiny mouths and try to avoid corn with Dwarf hamsters they dont digest it very well.

Getting to Know your Pet Hamster:
Easy to keep and fun to watch, hamsters don’t require much attention, so they are an excellent choice for first-time pet owners. However, they are not the best choices for young children, because they are nocturnal—that means they’re busy digging, scratching and running in their exercise wheels at night! Hamsters are intelligent and social. Their name comes from the German word hamstern, which means “to hoard,” and they are famous for hoarding food. It’s fun to watch them stuff their cheeks with food, then push it out and hide it in the corners of their cages. The most common pet hamster is the Syrian, also known as
the golden hamster or teddy bear hamster.

Fun Facts about Hamsters:
· Hamsters have a lifespan of two to three years.
· Hamsters will not normally bite, unless frightened or startled. Some hamsters bite when their sleep is disturbed.

· Hamsters are surprisingly good climbers.
· Hamsters can become very tame, if handled gently and regularly.
· Average adult weight for male: 85-130 grams
· Average adult weight for female: 95-150 grams
· Gestation period: 16 — 30 days depending on the subspecies.
· Pups per litter: 5-9 (depending on the subspecies)
· Optimal weaning age: 20-25 days

What you Need to Start:
Large wire cage with solid flooring and a secure lid
Cardboard box to nest and hide in
Exercise wheel
Litter/bedding
Water bottle
Heavy food bowl
Fortified feed
Nesting material

Grooming:
A sand bath can provide hamsters with entertainment and help them groom. In their natural habitat (the desert), hamsters roll around in the sand, which cleans their coats and prevents them from getting too oily. Provide about one inch of fine sand in a heavy metal or ceramic dish. Avoid very fine, dusty or powdery sand that can cause respiratory problems for your pet.

Housing:
Hamsters can be housed in a variety of environments, such hamstercareas wire cages or aquariums. Some hamsters prefer the security of solid aquarium sides. Others like the freedom and climbing potential of wire cages. Plastic habitats and cages are cute, but are not ideal because hamsters will chew small holes through the plastic through which they can escape. If you choose to keep your hamster in an aquarium, be sure it is well cleaned and has a wire mesh top to provide ventilation. Keep in mind that aquariums are not as well ventilated as wire cages, so they require more frequent cleaning. Aquariums can be awkward for children to clean. A wire cage should have a solid bottom, and the wires should be close enough together that your hamster can’t escape. Make sure the cage you choose has a large door to allow you to reach inside easily to handle or feed your hamster. The cage should be large enough to accommodate cage furniture, including an exercise wheel, a hidey house, tunnel or tube to play in, wood blocks to chew on, a food dish and water bottle.

Male and female hamsters should not be housed together, because they can reproduce extremely quickly. When you select hamsters, make sure you ask what sex they are to prevent unwanted babies. Also, some hamsters are social and others are solitary. Be sure to ask questions when selecting multiple hamsters.

A bedding of compressed high-fiber wheat straw is best, because it absorbs as much as 300% of its weight in moisture. Choose a 100% biodegradable, dust-free bedding that will not stick to fur. You also can use straw or hay, shredded paper, certain hardwood shavings or composite newspaper pellets. Hamsters love to chew on hay, move it around their cages, and hide and play in it. Avoid shredded paper made from shiny newspaper ads that contain toxic substances. Also avoid cedar and pine shavings—they contain resins that can irritate your pet’s skin, eyes and mucous membranes.

In addition, provide nesting material. Hay, newspaper, paper towels, facial tissue, old mittens or old socks are excellent nesting material for hamsters.

Exercise:
Hamsters are very industrious and love to play. An exercise wheel allows your pet to run at full speed as much as she likes. Avoid wire exercise wheels that could cause hamsters to slip and fall or cause injuries by getting a head or foot stuck in one of the spaces. Tubes provide an ideal way for hamsters to explore and play. They enjoy wooden tubes that mimic burrows in the wild. Make sure any toys or cage furniture you put in the hamster’s house is bite proof or safe for the animal to chew on.

Clear plastic hamster balls allow hamsters to explore safely out of the cage. Be sure to provide supervision, so the ball doesn’t get stuck or roll down stairs. Leave hamsters in exercise balls only for short intervals of 10 to 15 minutes. Hamsters also can be taken out of the cage and played with gently. If the hamster escapes your control, don’t panic. Simply look calmly for him and scoop him up again, or leave the cage door open on the floor and he is likely to return on his own.

Feeding:
Hamsters are herbivores, which means they eat only plant material. It’s important to feed your pet correctly to keep him or her from getting fat and unhealthy.

Water: First and foremost, all animals need lots of fresh clean water. A water bottle with a sipper tube works better for your hamster than a water bowl, because the bowl can be tipped over or contaminated with waste and bedding. However, your hamster will chew the sipper tube if too much of it is accessible. Hang the bottle on the outside of the cage, so just the tip of the spout is inside. Change water daily and clean the sipper tube weekly.

Complete, fortified kibble: Hamsters require a simple diet of a fortified kibble or lab block. Look for a complete hamster food with optimally-balanced nutrients to help maintain proper nutrition, weight, digestive function, dental health and longevity. The optimum diet for hamsters contains vitamin E, quality protein, complex carbohydrates and high fiber, as well as being low in sugar and starch. It’s important to choose a food with a high level of acid detergent fiber (ADF) for intestinal mobility. Avoid seeds, high-sugar fruits or artificial preservatives, colors and flavors.

Traditionally, most hamster foods have been mixes composed of a variety of high fat, low fiber, and high-in-sugar seeds and fruits. However, feeding mixes allows your pet to selectively eat only what it wants to, often eating the pieces that are not good for it first and leaving the healthy pieces. Feeding mixes can result in hamstercarepotentially life threatening or life shortening conditions, such as wet tail, dehydration, fatty liver, diabetes, obesity or high cholesterol. Kibble or block food does not allow your pet to pick out its favorite pieces and leave the healthy pieces behind. The best kibble contains all-natural grass and whole grain ingredients, with a shape that is ideal for nibbling to promote healthy teeth. Properly-shaped kibble also will not get lodged in a hamster’s cheek pouches, as seed, nuts and dried fruits can.

Treats: Just as with humans, there is more to your pet’s meals than the basics. Eating should be fun! Treats also help you bond with your pet. However, it’s tempting to feed too many treats, because pets like them so much. Avoid feeding so many treats that your pet refuses basic foods. Treats should make up no more than 5% of the total diet. Offer pre-packaged treats that are all-natural and low in sugar, with no artificial additives. Treats such as yogurt drops, carrots, dried fruit and seed sticks are high in calories that promote obesity. You can offer small quantities of vegetables and fruits as treats. Pay attention to the size of the treat—large pieces are much harder to pouch and un-pouch. As with any new food, be sure to introduce new treats slowly to avoid upsetting your pet’s stomach and causing diarrhea.

Hamster Troubleshooting:
Wettail, Dehydration: Hamsters need to produce both good and bad bacteria in their bodies to properly convert fiber into useable energy. It’s important to give your pet food that is high in fiber, specifically insoluble fiber (ADF) that maintains a proper balance between good and bad bacteria. If the balance is not maintained, your pet can suffer from wettail, a devastating disease that manifests as severe diarrhea. Other possible causes of wettail are stress, transportation, overcrowding, poor sanitation and weaning. Some cases of wettail can be contagious. Hamsters that develop wettail most often die of dehydration rather than the disease itself. Provide plenty of water to combat dehydration. If your hamster develops wettail, call the veterinarian for advice.

Biting: Many breeds of hamster are nocturnal, which means they sleep during the day and are awake at night. When you reach in to pick up a sleeping hamster, make sure you scoop him up and allow him to wake up slowly. Poking or petting a sleeping hamster is an invitation for the hamster to bite! Using a cup to pick up a hamster is an option, and is a good way for small children to handle the pet. A small coffee cup or teacup works best.

Stashing food: You might notice that your hamster’s food dish is empty within minutes of filling it. Hamsters are notorious for hoarding food. They like to create stashes around their cage and eat the stockpile later. Do not give into the urge to keep adding more food, unless you have checked the cage for stashes. Clean cages often to avoid mold and rot in stashes.

General health: Regular visits to the vet are vital to keeping your hamster healthy. If you see any signs of digestive upset, diarrhea, slobbers, dental problems or other abnormal behaviors, call the vet for advice.

What you Probably Didn’t Know About Hamsters:

Hamsters eat their own poop—both solid fecals and soft, moist cecals, which they consume directly from their bottoms. Although it seems strange to us, this is natural behavior, and it’s good for your pet because the poo is packed with necessary vitamins and amino acids!

Hamsters have cheek pouches where they stuff food, bedding, treats, and anything else they find. Hamsters also have a propensity to chew. Provide hay or a wood block to prevent them from chewing on their cages.

Chinchilla Care

Getting to Know your Pet Chinchilla:
If you are looking for a soft, furry, cuddly pet, a chinchilla might be a good choice. These affectionate, intelligent, playful creatures are usually a beautiful silver-gray, but they can be black, beige, charcoal or white, too. Chinchillas bond quickly with their owners, rarely bite, and like to be cuddled and carried. They are basically nocturnal, but they also like to play during the day. It’s fun to watch chinchillas play. They love to jump, explore and climb. They adore heights and often will climb as high as they can get, even clamoring atop a food dish to get just a little higher.

Fun Facts about Chinchillas:
➣ Chinchillas are cousins to the guinea pig. They originated in South America.
➣  A group of chinchillas is called a colony.
➣  “Chin” is a nickname for chinchilla.
➣  Average life span is 10 years. The longest living chinchilla on record was 20 years old.
➣  Average weight of an adult male: 400 – 500 grams (.9 – 1.1 lbs).
➣  Average weight of an adult female: 400 – 600 grams (.9 – 1.3 lb).
➣  Gestation period: 105 – 118 days (about 3 1/2 months). Because the gestation period is longer than some pets, babies are well-developed, with open eyes and full coats of hair. They eat solid food just days after birth!
➣  Pups per litter: 1 – 6.
➣  Optimal weaning time: at age 6 – 8 weeks.

What you Need to Start:
➣ Large cage with solid flooring
➣ Cardboard box to nest and hide in
➣ Litter
➣ Water bottle
➣ Heavy food bowl
➣ Food pellets
➣ Grass hay
➣ Lava dust
➣ Dust bath tub or house
➣ Grooming

Chinchillas are essentially odor-free and easy to keep clean. Some can be litter trained, but it takes a lot of patience and persistence.
Because chinchillas have naturally oily skin, they need lava dust baths four to six times a week for 15 to 30 minutes to keep their fur looking beautiful.

Without dust baths, your pet’s fur will begin to look oily, matted and unkempt. Purchase chinchilla dust at the pet store. (Because it is so fine, there is no suitable substitute.) Put two to three inches of dust into a plastic dishpan at least 6” x 9”, and 5 inches deep. Simply place your pet in the dust and they’ll do the rest.

Housing:
Chinchillas are active—even acrobatic—so they need plenty of room to play in a cage that has solid floors to protect their feet. The cage should be tall enough to allow exploring, jumping and climbing, and spacious enough to provide room for a dust box, a nest box and other cage furniture, such as a hammock. Place the cage close to household activity, but away from direct sunlight and drafts.

A bedding of compressed high-fiber wheat straw is best, because it absorbs as much as 300% of its weight in moisture. Choose a 100% biodegradable, dust-free bedding that will not stick to fur. You also can use straw or hay, shredded paper, certain hardwood shavings or composite newspaper pellets.

Avoid shredded paper made from shiny newspaper ads that contain toxic substances. Also avoid cedar and pine shavings—they contain resins that can irritate your pet’s skin, eyes and mucous membranes.

Exercise:
Look for a solid-surface exercise wheel large enough for chinchillas. (Avoid wire wheels, because a chinchilla’s feet can get caught between the wires.)

Chinchillas like to play with toys, hay cakes and wood chews.

Chinchillas like to play outside of their cages, too. If you allow your chin to run, make sure the room is “chinchilla-proofed”, because they like to chew on everything! Cover cords and outlets. Make sure house plants are out of reach (some can be poisonous). Before you let your chinchilla run, be sure that you can catch it! Chinchillas are fast and crafty, especially when they don’t want to be caught.

Feeding:
Chinchillas are herbivores, which means they eat only plant material. It’s important to feed your chinchilla correctly to keep him or her from getting fat and unhealthy.

Water: First and foremost, all animals need lots of fresh clean water. A water bottle with a sipper tube works better for your chinchilla than a water bowl, because the bowl can be tipped over or contaminated with waste and bedding. However, your chinchilla will chew the sipper tube if too much of it is accessible. Hang the bottle on the outside of the cage, so just the tip of the spout is inside. Change water daily and clean the sipper tube weekly.

Hay: At least 75% of a chinchilla’s diet should be unlimited, free-choice grass hays such as timothy, brome, orchard or oat hay. Free choice means a pet can choose when to eat the hay—at any hour of the day. Hay provides essential fiber, which helps maintain intestinal and dental health. It also prevents boredom, obesity and dental disease by satisfying the chinchilla’s innate desire to chew. To assure freshness, wait until the pet nearly finishes one batch of hay before restocking. Chinchillas under one year old should receive alfalfa hay in addition to grass hay. Alfalfa hay also can be used to help boost the nutrition of sick, pregnant, nursing or older chinchillas as needed. After one year of age, alfalfa hay can be used as a treat (see treat information below).

Complete, high-fiber pellet: Another important source of fiber that also contains specially formulated, balanced nutrients is a pre-packaged feed pellet designed especially for the distinctive nutritional needs of the chinchilla. In a sturdy crock bowl that can’t be upset, feed a carefully selected quality brand of food to animals of all ages to maintain intestinal health and prevent digestive upset. Look for chinchilla feed that contains farm-fresh alfalfa with a balance of fiber, protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Avoid foods that contain seeds because—contrary to popular belief—seeds are unhealthy.

They have a high fat content and poor nutritional balance. If you already have begun to feed your chinchilla a seed-based diet, it’s important to gradually covert your pet to the new feed over the space of one or two weeks. Gradually changing food for any reason helps avoid digestive upset. Clean dishes daily and discard any leftover food.

Treats: Just as with humans, there is more to your pet’s meals than the basics. Eating should be fun! Treats also help you bond with your pet. However, it’s tempting to feed too many treats, because pets like them so much. Avoid feeding so many treats that your pet refuses basic foods. Treats should make up no more than 5% of the total diet. Offer pre-packaged treats that are all-natural and low in sugar, with no artificial additives. However, do not use yogurt drops, fruits, nuts, seeds or granola sticks—they have too much sugar and fat. You can offer herbs (fresh or dried) and vegetables. Herb choices include mint, basil, oregano and thyme. Fresh greens might include romaine, butter crunch or red leaf lettuces, or cilantro, carrot tops and dandelion greens (no more than one teaspoon a day). To prevent digestive upset, feed the same treats consistently and avoid gas-forming vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower.

Chinchilla Troubleshooting:
Uneven, ragged fur: When chinchillas are stressed or malnourished, or when they have a chronic disease or don’t get regular dust baths, they will cut their own hair! This is called barbering. They might even seem to be balding, but the hair follicle is not gone; the hair is just chewed off at the base. To avoid barbering, pay closer attention to your pet’s housing, nutrition and grooming.

Depressed appetite, food dropping from mouth, wet matted chin: Chinchillas are prone to serious dental problems that can cause these conditions. A diet that is low in fiber or a lack of suitable chewing material can result in the development of malocclusion, molar root overgrowth or molar spurs—sharp points on the upper and/or lower molars. These points can be painful to the animal’s cheek and tongue. Increased salivation results in a wet, matted chin (slobbers). If you see any of these abnormal signs, a visit to the vet is in order. To avoid these painful conditions, provide plenty of hay and blocks of wood for chewing.

General health: Regular visits to the vet are vital to keeping your chinchilla healthy. If you see any signs of digestive upset, diarrhea, slobbers, dental problems or other abnormal behaviors, call the vet for advice.

What you Probably Didn’t Know About Chinchillas:
Chinchillas release tufts of hair when they are scared. This is a natural defense mechanism. Don’t worry…if this happens, the fur will grow back.

Chinchillas eat their own poop—both solid fecals and soft, moist cecals, which they consume directly from their bottoms. Although it seems strange to us, this is natural behavior, and it’s good for your pet because the poo is packed with nutrients!

Gerbil Care

Getting to Know your Pet Gerbil:
Hearty, frisky gerbils are fun to watch scurrying around their cages. They make wonderful pets for older children, because they are awake during the day and they rarely bite. Gerbils are native to many parts of the world, but the most common pet gerbil is the Mongolian. They come in dozens of different colors. Gerbils are very friendly and social. In fact, it is recommended that you get at least two, because they don’t like to be alone, and two gerbils can groom one another. Gerbils require a minimum of care, take up little space and don’t have an odor. You can train them to climb up your arm and sit on your shoulder!

Fun Facts about Gerbils:
➣  Gerbils have a lifespan of three to four years.
➣  Gerbils are four to five inches long with tails about the same length.
➣  Gerbils don’t have good eyesight, but they hear and smell very well.
➣  Never pick up a gerbil by the tail.
➣  Gerbils often cover their food dishes with bedding to hide the food.
➣  Average adult weight for male: 80-110 grams
➣  Average adult weight for female: 70-100 grams
➣  Gestation period: 24-26 days
➣  Pups per litter: 4-6
➣  Optimal weaning age: 20-30 days

What you Need to Start:
➣  Large wire cage with solid flooring and a secure lid
➣  Cardboard boxes, tubes and toys
➣  Exercise wheel
➣  Litter/bedding
➣  Water bottle
➣  Heavy food bowl
➣  Fortified feed
➣  Nesting material

Housing:
Gerbils can be housed in a variety of environments, such as wire cages or aquariums. Aquariums allow for deep burrowing and prevent bedding from getting kicked out, as in wire cages. Plastic habitats and cages are cute, but are not ideal because gerbils will chew small holes through the plastic through which they can escape. If you choose to keep your gerbil in an aquarium, be sure it is well cleaned and has a wire mesh top to provide ventilation. Keep in mind that aquariums are not as well ventilated as wire cages, so they require more frequent cleaning. Aquariums can be awkward for children to clean. A wire cage should have a solid bottom, and the wires should be close enough together that your gerbil can’t escape. Make sure the cage you choose has a large door to allow you to reach inside easily to handle or feed your pet. Gerbils need an entertaining, stimulating environment, so the cage should be large enough to accommodate cage furniture, including an exercise wheel, a hidey house, tunnels or tubes to play in, hay to burrow in, wood blocks to chew on, a food dish and water bottle. A plain, clean rock can serve as a lookout for your naturally curious pet. Place the cage away from drafts and direct sunlight.

Gerbils are happier when at least two of them are housed together, but be sure they are the same sex, or you will end up with too many babies.

Provide a deep layer of bedding for your gerbil to burrow in. A bedding of compressed high-fiber wheat straw is best, because it absorbs as much as 300% of its weight in moisture. Choose a 100% biodegradable, dust-free bedding that will not stick to fur. You also can use straw or grass hay, shredded paper, certain hardwood shavings or composite newspaper pellets. Gerbils love to chew on hay, move it around their cages, and hide and play in it. Avoid shredded paper made from shiny newspaper ads that contain toxic substances. Also avoid cedar and pine shavings—they contain resins that can irritate your pet’s skin, eyes and mucous membranes.

In addition, provide nesting material. Hay, newspaper, paper towels, facial tissue, old mittens or old socks are excellent nesting material for gerbils.

Exercise:
Gerbils are fast, playful, active pets. An exercise wheel allows your pet to run at full speed as much as she likes. Avoid wire exercise wheels that could cause gerbils to slip and fall or cause injuries by getting a head or foot stuck in one of the spaces. Tubes provide an ideal way for gerbils to explore and play. They enjoy wooden tubes that mimic burrows in the wild. Make sure any toys or cage furniture you put in the gerbil’s house is bite proof or safe for the animal to chew on.

Once a gerbil has been hand-tamed, you can allow her to run around outside of the cage with supervision for a short time every day. Be sure to screen off the area and check it for wires, house plants (they can be poisonous) and other things gerbils could hurt themselves with.

Gerbils love to chew and gnaw on just about anything. Satisfy their chewing urges by providing hay, empty toilet paper rolls or untreated wood blocks.

Feeding:
Gerbils are herbivores, which means they eat only plant material. It’s important to feed your pet correctly to keep him or her from getting fat and unhealthy.

Water: Gerbils drink very little water, but fresh clean water should always be available. A water bottle with a sipper tube works better for your gerbil than a water bowl, because the bowl can be tipped over or contaminated with waste and bedding. However, your gerbil will chew the sipper tube if too much of it is accessible. Hang the bottle on the outside of the cage, so just the tip of the spout is inside. Change water daily and clean the sipper tube weekly.

Complete, fortified kibble: Gerbils require a simple diet of a fortified kibble or feed block. Look for a complete gerbil food with optimally-balanced nutrients to help maintain proper nutrition, weight, digestive function, dental health and longevity. The optimum diet for gerbils contains vitamin E, quality protein, complex carbohydrates and high fiber, as well as being low in sugar and starch. It’s important to choose a food with a high level of acid detergent fiber (ADF) for intestinal mobility. Avoid seeds, high-sugar fruits or artificial preservatives, colors and flavors.

Traditionally, most gerbil foods have been mixes composed of a variety of high fat, low fiber, high-in-sugar seeds and fruits. However, feeding mixes allows your pet to selectively eat only what it wants to, often eating the pieces that are not good for it first and leaving the healthy pieces. Feeding mixes can result in potentially life threatening or life shortening conditions, such as wet tail, dehydration, fatty liver, diabetes, obesity or high cholesterol. Kibble or block food does not allow your pet to pick out its favorite pieces and leave the healthy pieces behind. The best kibble contains all-natural grass and whole grain ingredients, with a shape that is ideal for nibbling to promote healthy teeth.

Treats: Just as with humans, there is more to your pet’s meals than the basics. Eating should be fun! Treats also help you bond with your pet. However, it’s tempting to feed too many treats, because pets like them so much. Avoid feeding so many treats that your gerbil refuses basic foods. Treats should make up no more than 5% of the total diet. Offer pre-packaged treats that are all-natural and low in sugar, with no artificial additives. Treats such as yogurt drops, carrots, dried fruit and seed sticks are high in calories that promote obesity. Sunflower seeds are high in fat and do not make a good snack. You can offer small quantities of vegetables and fruits as daily treats. Do not give your pet cabbage, potatoes, uncooked beans, chocolate, candy or junk food. As with any new food, be sure to introduce new treats slowly to avoid upsetting your pet’s stomach and causing diarrhea.

Gerbil Troubleshooting:
Wettail, Dehydration: Gerbils need to produce both good and bad bacteria in their bodies to properly convert fiber into useable energy. It’s important to give your pet food that is high in fiber, specifically insoluble fiber (ADF) that maintains a proper balance between good and bad bacteria. If the balance is not maintained, your pet can suffer from wettail, a devastating disease that manifests as severe diarrhea. Other possible causes of wettail are stress, transportation, overcrowding, poor sanitation and weaning. Some cases of wettail can be contagious. Gerbils that develop wettail most often die of dehydration rather than the disease itself. Provide plenty of water to combat dehydration. If your gerbil develops wettail, call the veterinarian for advice.

General health: Regular visits to the vet are vital to keeping your gerbil healthy. If you see any signs of digestive upset, diarrhea, slobbers, dental problems or other abnormal behaviors, call the vet for advice.

What you Probably Didn’t Know About Gerbils:
Gerbils eat their own poop—both solid fecals and soft, moist cecals, which they consume directly from their bottoms. Although it seems strange to us, this is natural behavior, and it’s good for your pet because the poo is packed with necessary vitamins and amino acids!

Guinea Pig Care

Getting to Know your Pet Guinea Pig:
Guinea pigs are popular pets for many reasons. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. They are docile, friendly animals that enjoy attention and social interaction. Many families without the yard and housing space for dogs find satisfying companionship with guinea pigs.

These pets require a lot responsibility, including cage management, measured daily feeding and adequate attention, so they should never be the sole responsibility of a child. They become part of the family!

If you are looking for a new guinea pig, consider contacting a local rescue organization or a pet store that partners with animal shelters.

Fun Facts about Guinea Pigs:
➣ Guinea pigs are cousins to the chinchilla. They come from South America, and were initially domesticated by the Incas of Peru.
➣ Most common varieties in pet stores: English Shorthaired, Peruvian Longhaired, Abyssinian Rough-Haired. Newer breeds include the smooth-coated Silkies and the rough-haired Woolies. Many of these pets are actually mixed breeds.
➣ Another name for the guinea pig is “cavy”, which comes from its scientific name, Cavia Porcellus.
➣ Average life span is 5 – 6 years. They have been known to live as long as 10 years.
➣ Average weight of an adult male: 2 – 3 pounds or more.
➣ Average weight of an adult female: 1 ½ – 2 ½ pounds.
➣ Gestation period: 59 – 72 days. Because the gestation period is longer than some pets, babies are well-developed, with open eyes and full coats of hair. They eat solid food just days after birth!
➣ Average number of pups per litter: 2 – 4, with as many as 13.
➣ Optimal weaning age: 21 days.
What you Need to Start:
➣ Large wire cage with solid flooring
➣ Cardboard box to nest and hide in
➣ Bedding
➣ Water bottle
➣ Heavy food bowl
➣ Food pellets
➣ Grass hay
➣ Spaying, Neutering and Breeding

It’s difficult to find homes for many baby guinea pigs, so it’s important to spay or neuter your pet to prevent unwanted litters.

Also, breeding guinea pigs can be a full-time job that requires sufficient knowledge of nutrition, feed management and emergency care. After six months of age, for example, the pelvic cartilage stiffens, which makes it difficult to give birth to the usually large, developed young animals.

Housing:
Guinea pigs love to explore, play and hide. Choose a cage large enough to accommodate food bowls and some cage furniture, which can be as simple as a cardboard box and a piece of PVC tubing. Add a pile of hay for hours of exploration! The cage should have a solid metal or plastic bottom, but avoid aquariums and cages that don’t have good ventilation. Guinea pigs are sensitive to overheating, and ammonia from urine can cause respiratory problems.

Because guinea pigs are social animals that thrive on human or animal companionship, place the cage close to household activity, but away from direct sunlight and drafts. When you position your guinea pig’s food and water, remember they have short necks and cannot reach very high. Make sure you place food and water at a level your guinea pig can reach.

To avoid health problems, clean your guinea pig’s cage at least twice a week. Make cleaning easier by lining the cage bottom with newspaper, then covering it with bedding. A bedding of compressed high-fiber wheat straw is best, because it absorbs as much as 300% of its weight in moisture. Choose a 100% biodegradable, dust-free bedding that will not stick to fur. You also can use straw or hay, shredded paper, certain hardwood shavings or composite newspaper pellets. Avoid shredded paper made from shiny newspaper ads that contain toxic substances. Also avoid cedar and pine shavings—they contain resins that can irritate your pet’s skin, eyes and mucous membranes. Do not use cat litter. It contains clays that are not safe to ingest and they cause respiratory ailments.

Exercise:
Guinea pigs love to play and perform entertaining stunts in tunnels and boxes, and this exercise is important to avoid obesity. In addition to playing with toys, hay cakes, wood chews and cage furniture, guinea pigs enjoy the opportunity to run outside the cage. Place them on vinyl floors to make cleanup easier and give your pet a chance for extended exercise. Toddler gates work well for sectioning off safe areas of the house. Guinea pigs also enjoy being outdoors in the grass, but they need to be closely supervised. Guinea pigs love to burrow. For enrichment, fill a plastic toddler pool with oat hay and watch them wheak and whistle as they tunnel.

Guinea pigs have distinct personalities that they express through vocalizations. They can make a variety of noises, including chatters, whines, squeals, purrs, whistles, screams, chirps and grunts. Happy, healthy guinea pigs sometimes make characteristic spring-kicks known as “popcorning” because it looks similar to popping corn.

Feeding:
Guinea pigs are herbivores, which means they eat only plant material. It’s important to feed your pet correctly to keep him or her from getting fat and unhealthy.

Water: First and foremost, all animals need lots of fresh clean water. A water bottle with a sipper tube works better for your guinea pig than a water bowl, because the bowl can be tipped over or contaminated with waste and bedding. However, your pet will chew the sipper tube if too much of it is accessible.
Hang the bottle on the outside of the cage, so just the tip of the spout is inside. Change water daily and clean the sipper tube weekly.

Hay: At least 75% of a guinea pig’s diet should be unlimited, free-choice grass hays such as timothy, brome, orchard or oat hay. Free choice means a pet can choose when to eat the hay—at any hour of the day. Hay provides essential fiber, which helps maintain intestinal and dental health. It prevents boredom, obesity and dental disease by satisfying the guinea pig’s innate desire to chew. To avoid pickiness, be sure to feed a variety of hays. To assure freshness, wait until the pet nearly finishes one batch of hay before restocking. Guinea pigs under one year old should receive alfalfa hay in addition to grass hay. Alfalfa hay also can be used to help boost the nutrition of sick, pregnant, nursing or older animals as needed. After one year of age, alfalfa hay can be used as a treat (see treat information below).

Complete, high-fiber pellet: Another important source of fiber that also contains specially formulated, balanced nutrients, including critical vitamin C, is a pre-packaged feed pellet designed especially for the distinctive nutritional needs of the guinea pig. In a sturdy crock bowl that can’t be upset, feed a carefully selected quality brand of food to animals of all ages to maintain intestinal health and prevent digestive upset. Look for guinea pig feed that contains high fiber and low protein, calories and calcium, as well as an optimal calcium-to-phosphorus ratio that helps maintain a healthy urinary system.

Alfalfa-based feeds designed especially for young, pregnant, nursing, ill or old animals contain more protein, calcium and energy. Clean dishes daily and discard any leftover food.

Supplements: Guinea pigs are not able to produce their own vitamin C, a peculiarity they share with humans and other primates. In fact, a lack of vitamin C is the most common nutritional deficiency in guinea pigs. If the guinea pig feed you choose does not include vitamin C, prevent disease and lengthen the life of your pet by feeding a stabilized vitamin C supplement daily. Avoid using vitamin supplements that go into your guinea pig’s water, because these can alter the flavor of the water and decrease water intake. The daily requirement of vitamin C for a guinea pig is 35 mg.

Treats: Just as with humans, there is more to your pet’s meals than the basics. Eating should be fun! Treats also help you bond with your pet. However, it’s tempting to feed too many treats, because pets like them so much—and guinea pigs are good beggars!

Avoid feeding so many treats that your pet refuses basic foods. Treats should make up no more than 5% of the total diet. Offer pre-packaged treats that are all-natural and low in sugar, with no artificial additives. Do not feed colored fresh fruit and vegetables—they have too much sugar/starch, phosphorus and calories. A high phosphorus diet can contribute to brittle bones and bladder sludge. Do not feed yogurt drops, nuts, seeds or granola sticks, because they have too much sugar and fat. Leafy greens are a good treat alternative. Fresh greens might include romaine, butter crunch or red leaf lettuces, or cilantro, carrot tops and dandelion greens (no more than ½ cup a day). Enrich the treat diet by adding a sprig or two of fresh herbs, such as oregano, basil or mint. To prevent digestive upset, feed the same treats consistently and avoid gas-forming treats such as broccoli and cauliflower.

Guinea Pig Troubleshooting:
Frequent urination, decreased water intake: Bladder stone formation is relatively common in guinea pigs. These stones might form as a result of urinary tract infections, decreased water intake (sometimes as a result of adding vitamin C to the water), high oxalate intake, or an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus in the diet. Unbalanced dietary levels of vitamin D and magnesium also might contribute to the problem. To avoid these problems, choose feeds designed especially for guinea pigs that include a nutritionally appropriate calcium-to-phosphorus ratio, as well as appropriate levels of magnesium and vitamin D.

Eye irritation, nasal discharge, wet chin: Guinea pigs have continually growing teeth. In captivity, they are prone to serious dental problems that can cause these conditions, although the symptoms often go unnoticed. A diet low in fiber or a lack of suitable chewing material can result in the development of malocclusion or molar spurs—sharp points on the upper and/or lower molars. These points can be painful to the animal’s cheek and tongue. If you see any of these abnormal signs or consumption of hay decreases substantially, a visit to the vet might be in order. To avoid these painful conditions, provide plenty of hay and blocks of wood for chewing.

General health: Regular visits to the vet are vital to keeping your guinea pig healthy. If you see any signs of digestive upset, diarrhea, slobbers, dental problems or other abnormal behaviors, call the vet for advice.

What you Probably Didn’t Know About Guinea Pigs:
Guinea pigs eat their own poop—both solid fecals and soft, moist cecals, which they consume directly from their bottoms. Although it seems strange to us, this is natural behavior, and it’s good for your pet because the poo is packed with nutrients!

Guinea pigs shed naturally all the time. They have an average of two big sheds each year. They can be more prone to hairballs at this time, so make sure plenty of hay is available to aid in digestion.

Rabbit Care

Getting to Know your Pet Rabbit:
Rabbits make intelligent, energetic, entertaining pets. Their friendly dispositions, quiet demeanor, soft fur and warm eyes capture the hearts of rabbit owners everywhere. Rabbits are affectionate—they enjoy human interaction and the company of other rabbits. In fact, if paired with the right mate, a rabbit can form a close bond for life. Rabbits are most active at dawn and twilight, and they like to nap during midday. This makes them well-suited for working families.

There are about 50 different breeds of rabbit with wide variations in size, ear length and color, from the 15-pound Flemish giant to the petite 3-pound Netherlands dwarf or the French lop with 10-inch long ears.

Fun Facts about Rabbits:
➣  Rabbits jump for joy when they are happy! This jumping action is called a “binky”.
➣  Rabbits often get along well with other household pets, as long as they are introduced properly.
➣  Rabbits normally don’t like to be picked up and carried.
➣  Snuffles is a common respiratory ailment of rabbits.
➣  Average weight of an adult male: Depends on the breed.
➣  Average weight of an adult female: Depends on the breed
➣  Gestation period: 30-32 days.
➣  Bunnies per litter: 4-12 depending on size and breed of rabbit
➣  Optimal weaning time: 3-4 weeks

What you Need to Start:
➣ Large cage or x-pen with solid flooring
➣ Cardboard box to nest and hide in
➣ Litter box
➣ Litter
➣ Heavy water bowl or bottle
➣ Heavy food bowl
➣ Food pellets
➣ Grass hay
➣ Spaying and Neutering

It’s difficult to find homes for many baby rabbits! Veterinarians strongly recommend that female rabbits be spayed and male rabbits be neutered around the age of four to six months. Females have an extremely high rate of uterine cancer as they age, so it is important to spay your rabbit while she is young.

Neutered males are less territorial, so they are less aggressive and less likely to mark their environment by spraying urine.

Housing:
Rabbits can be kept inside the house and trained to use a litter box. Your rabbit needs a cage with plenty of room to play, rest, eat and explore. The bigger the cage the better. The exact size depends on the size of your rabbit. It should be tall enough for your rabbit to stand on his hind legs and stretch out.

Rabbits love the two-story “condo” cages with ramps connecting the different levels. Solid flooring is best because a rabbit’s feet can become irritated and inflamed if in constant contact with wire floors. If you must use wire flooring, provide a resting area of solid flooring that can be covered with a towel, carpet or hay.

Place the cage close to household activity, but away from direct sunlight and drafts. Be sure to provide some toys for enrichment.

A bedding of compressed high-fiber wheat straw is best, because it absorbs as much as 300% of its weight in moisture. Choose a 100% biodegradable, dust-free bedding that will not stick to fur.

You also can use straw or hay, shredded paper, certain hardwood shavings or composite newspaper pellets. Avoid shredded paper made from shiny newspaper ads that contain toxic substances.

Also avoid cedar and pine shavings—they contain resins that can irritate your pet’s skin, eyes and mucous membranes.

Exercise:
Rabbits like to play with toys, hay cakes and wood chews. Once your rabbit is litter box trained, he or she can be allowed to hop around outside of the cage.

Be sure you rabbit-proof the area you choose for your rabbit to have free range over. Check to be sure cords and outlets are covered, so your rabbit doesn’t chew on them. Make sure house plants are out of reach, because some can be poisonous.

In addition, be prepared for damage to curtains, carpets and furniture, because rabbits will chew on just about anything.

Feeding:
Rabbits are herbivores, which means they eat only plant material. It’s important to feed your rabbit correctly to keep him or her from getting fat and unhealthy. Rabbits required a very simple diet made up of quality grass hays, pellets and water.

Water: First and foremost, all animals need lots of fresh clean water. Water can be provided in a sturdy crock or a water bottle with a sipper tube. If your rabbit soils the water bowl or enjoys tipping it over, the bowl should be replaced with a water bottle.

Change water daily and clean the sipper tube weekly.

Hay: Grass hay is an ideal food for rabbits; they should have access to unlimited amounts of free-choice grass hays such as timothy, brome, orchard or oat hay. Free choice means a pet can choose when to eat the hay—at any hour of the day. Hay provides essential fiber, which helps maintain intestinal and dental health. It also prevents boredom, obesity and dental disease by satisfying the rabbit’s innate desire to chew.

Rabbits enjoy a cage full of hay in which to rest, snack or play. To assure freshness, restock hay regularly. Rabbits under one year old can receive alfalfa hay in addition to grass hay. Alfalfa hay also can be used to help boost the nutrition of sick, pregnant, nursing or older rabbits as needed. After one year of age, alfalfa hay can be used as a treat (see treat information below).

Complete, high-fiber pellet: Another important source of fiber that also contains specially formulated, balanced nutrients is a pre-packaged feed pellet designed especially for the distinctive nutritional needs of the rabbit.

In a sturdy crock bowl that can’t be upset, feed a carefully selected quality brand of food to animals of all ages to maintain intestinal health and prevent digestive upset.

Look for rabbit feed that contains farm-fresh alfalfa with a balance of fiber, protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals.

For mature rabbits, choose a pellet low in calcium. High-calcium diets have been incriminated in certain rabbit health problems such as bladder stones and sludge.

If you ever need to make big changes to your rabbit’s food, it’s important to gradually covert your pet to the new feed over the space of one or two weeks. Gradually changing food for any reason helps avoid digestive upset.

Clean dishes daily and discard any leftover food.

Vegetables: Your rabbit can eat vegetables daily. It is important to introduce vegetables one at a time to make sure each agrees with your rabbit’s digestive tract. Approximately one cup of vegetables per four pounds of body weight daily is appropriate for rabbits.

Some suggestions include romaine, butter crunch or red leaf lettuce, or other veggies, including cilantro, parsley, carrot tops, collards, dandelion greens and kale. Avoid gas-forming vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower.

Treats: Just as with humans, there is more to your pet’s meals than the basics. Eating should be fun! Treats also help you bond with your pet. However, it’s tempting to feed too many treats, because pets like them so much. Avoid feeding so many treats that your pet refuses basic foods. Treats should make up no more than 5% of the total diet. Offer pre-packaged treats that are all-natural and low in sugar, with no artificial additives. However, do not use yogurt drops, fruits, nuts, seeds or granola sticks—they have too much sugar and fat.

You can add herbs (fresh or dried) in limited quantities to vegetables for variety. Herb choices include mint, basil, oregano and thyme.

To prevent digestive upset, feed the same treats consistently.
Rabbit Troubleshooting:
Shedding: Rabbits naturally shed all the time. Every year they will have two big sheds (on average). They may be more prone to hairballs at this time, so make sure there is lots of hay available.

Hairball or Ileus: The term “hairball” is used to describe a serious and common problem of rabbits in which the intestinal tract slows down and stops functioning properly.
Gastrointestinal (GI) stasis, or ileus, is the preferred terminology for this malady, which can have a number of underlying causes, including insufficient dietary fiber, dehydration, stress, pain or other illness. The rabbit with GI stasis will be anorexic or have a reduced appetite. An affected rabbit produces very small stools or none at all, which can cause pain.
You might observe your rabbit hunching over. This is a true emergency that requires a visit to your veterinarian. Because insufficient dietary fiber is a common cause of ileus, feeding unlimited quantities of grass hay can help prevent this problem.
Rabbits given sugary or starchy treats also might experience ileus.

Dental problems: Some rabbits are prone to dental problems, such as overgrown incisors and molar spurs. Rabbits’ teeth grow throughout their lives and can grow from four to five inches per year.

Some rabbits have a malocclusion that results in improper wear of their incisor teeth. As a result, these front teeth can grow to a point at which they protrude from the mouth and make food intake difficult. In these cases, the affected teeth need to be trimmed on a regular basis or should be surgically removed.
Molar malocclusion can result in painful points that irritate the tongue and cheek. Rabbits with molar spurs will have depressed appetites, and you might observe food dropping from their mouths as they attempt to chew.
Feeding your rabbit free-choice grass hay stimulates constant chewing action, which helps wear down continuously growing molars.

General health: Regular visits to the vet are vital to keeping your rabbit healthy. If you see any signs of digestive upset, diarrhea, slobbers, dental problems, anorexia or other abnormal behaviors, call the vet for advice.

What you Probably Didn’t Know About Rabbits:
Rabbits are very inquisitive and curious. Normally they don’t like to be picked up or carried. The best way to interact with rabbits is to get down on their level and play with them on the floor.
Be sure you always are present when your rabbit is out of the cage for playtime; rabbits can be mischievous and might get hurt if left alone.
Rabbits eat their own poop—both solid fecals and soft, moist cecals, which they consume directly from their bottoms. Although it seems strange to us, this is natural behavior, and it’s good for your pet because the poo is packed with nutrients!

Rat Care

Getting to Know your Pet Rat:
When treated with gentle care, domesticated rats are clean, docile, cuddly and easily trained. In general, rats don’t bite unless frightened. Their larger size makes them better pets for children than hamsters or mice. Rats are relatively intelligent and social animals that enjoy the company of other rats and humans.

They are usually nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and are active at night. However, many rats will adjust their schedules to be awake when their owners are at home to give them attention.

Hooded rats have brown and white or black and white fur, and Sprague-Dawley or Wistar-Lewis rats have white fur. Rats can have other varieties of color.

Fun Facts about Rats:
➣  Rats can’t sweat, so make sure they do not get too hot.
➣  Rats’ stomachs are the size of half of your thumb.
➣  Rats can’t burp or vomit.
➣  Average life span: 26 – 40 months (1 – 3 years)
➣  Maximum reported life span: 56 months (4.5 years)
➣  Average adult weight for male: 267 – 500 grams (.6 – 1 lb)
➣  Average adult weight for female: 225 – 325 grams (.5 – .7 lb)
➣  Gestation period: 21 – 23 days.
➣  Pups per litter: 6 – 10 pups.
➣  Optimal weaning age: 21 days
➣  Approximate daily food consumption of adult: 15 – 20 grams (less than one ounce)
➣  Approximate daily water consumption of adult: 5 – 8 ml

What you Need to Start:
➣ Large wire cage with solid flooring
➣ Cardboard box to nest and hide in
➣ Litter/bedding
➣ Water bottle
➣ Heavy food bowl
➣ Fortified food pellets
➣ Nesting material
➣ Spaying and Neutering

It is important to get your rat spayed for several reasons. When you spay a female, it immediately reduces the chances of her getting mammary cancer. It is also better to have altered sex rats when it comes to housing. Rats love to be housed in groups. If they are all spayed or neutered, it allows you to cage males and females together, giving them optimum social contact without the problem of babies.

Housing:
Choose a solid-bottom, wire cage large enough for climbing and playing. The cage should be large enough to accommodate feeding supplies, a large exercise wheel, a hiding/nesting box and a tunnel for play.

A bedding of compressed high-fiber wheat straw is best, because it absorbs as much as 300% of its weight in moisture. Choose a 100% biodegradable, dust-free bedding that will not stick to fur. You also can use straw or hay, shredded paper, certain hardwood shavings or composite newspaper pellets.

Avoid shredded paper made from shiny newspaper ads that contain toxic substances. Also avoid cedar and pine shavings—they contain resins that can irritate your pet’s skin, eyes and mucous membranes.

In addition, provide nesting material. Hay, newspaper, paper towels, facial tissue, old mittens or old socks are excellent nesting material for rats.

Exercise:
Rats are intelligent and social animals. They make very good pets. They love to play and can be taught tricks. Make your rat’s home fun and enriching by providing tubes, ropes and tunnels for play. They love to interact with people and enjoy the occasional ride on your shoulder. Rats are natural diggers and it is very common for them to burrow in their surroundings. Providing hay or other nesting materials is great mental enrichment for rats. Hay cakes can be used as toys. They enjoy tossing and carrying them around.

Feeding:
Rats are omnivores, which means they can eat both plant and animal material. Rats are very similar to humans in what they eat and how they eat. All your rat needs is a fortified complete feed and clean water, with an occasional treat to make meals fun. It’s important to feed your rat correctly to keep him or her from getting fat and unhealthy.

Water: First and foremost, all animals need lots of fresh clean water. A water bottle with a sipper tube works better for your rat than a water bowl, because the bowl can be tipped over or contaminated with waste and bedding. However, your rat will chew the sipper tube if too much of it is accessible. Hang the bottle on the outside of the cage, so just the tip of the spout is inside. Change water daily and clean the sipper tube weekly.

Complete, life-staged kibble: Look for a packaged, complete rat food designed especially for adult rats, with a balance of protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Proper food will improve the longevity of your pet without causing life-threatening obesity. Some rat foods have easy-to-follow tables on the package, showing feeding guidelines. Rats can have a wider variety of foods than many small pets. Rats also can have small amounts (about one tablespoon a day) of fruits, vegetables and other foods to supplement fortified packaged food—berries, bananas, raisins/grapes, melon, prune/plum, apples, broccoli, greens, corn, squash, peas, carrots, liver/oysters and beans are examples. Feed greens, such as romaine, bib and red leaf lettuces. You can add tomatoes, parsley and cilantro for added variety.

Avoid foods that contain seeds because, contrary to popular belief, seeds are unhealthy. They have a high fat content and poor nutritional balance. Rats can’t burp, so avoid gas forming vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower. Offer a variety of hays as a behavior stimulator. Rats might avoid strange foods, so if you need to change your pet’s diet it’s important to gradually covert to the new feed over the space of one or two weeks. Gradually changing food for any reason helps avoid digestive upset.

Clean dishes daily and discard any leftover food.

Rats are like humans in that they might eat when they are bored. As a result, they are prone to obesity. In spite of what most people think, rats do not always need food in the food dish.

Treats: Just as with humans, there is more to your pet’s meals than the basics. Eating should be fun! The main function of a treat should be to encourage interaction between you and your rat. Treats are also a wonderful training aid. To keep rats busy and entertained, a few raisins can be hidden in hay left out in the cage or stuffed in a paper towel roll. Burrowing in, tunneling through and playing with hay also keeps them busy. Hay is a snack that will not cause obesity. Grass hays such as timothy, brome, orchard, and oat are the best.

Treats also help you bond with your pet. However, it’s tempting to feed too many treats, because pets like them so much. Avoid feeding so many treats that your pet refuses basic foods. Treats should make up no more than 5% of the total diet.

Offer pre-packaged treats that are all-natural and low in sugar, with no artificial additives. Do not use yogurt drops, fruits, nuts, seeds or granola sticks—they have too much sugar and fat. Foods such as pretzels, cookies, and cereals are high in calories and starch, and they can lead to intestinal bloat.

As with any new food, be sure to introduce new treats slowly to avoid upsetting your rat’s stomach and causing diarrhea.

Rat Troubleshooting:
Conflict between rats- Spayed and neutered male and female rats can be housed together because fighting rarely occurs between adults. However, males might bother the young, and females might fight among themselves after they have given birth. To avoid fighting in these cases, separate rats temporarily into two different cages.

Respiratory problems: Rats are particularly prone to respiratory problems, so caging that provides adequate ventilation is essential. Wire cages with plastic bottoms are ideal. Aquarium tanks provide less ventilation and are not recommended for pet rats. Ammonia buildup from urine can cause or exacerbate respiratory problems in rats, so any cage should be cleaned at least twice a week.

General health- Regular visits to the vet are vital to keeping your rat healthy. If you see any signs of digestive upset, diarrhea, slobbers, dental problems or other abnormal behaviors, call the vet for advice.

What you Probably Didn’t Know About Rats:
Rats are natural burrowers, and it is very common for domesticated rats to burrow in their surroundings. Rats are also very active and like to explore. Keep this in mind when designing your rat’s cage environment, which should be large enough to accommodate a large exercise wheel, a hide box and a tunnel for play. Providing “cage furniture” satisfies a rat’s inquisitive nature and innate tunneling behavior.

In general, rats don’t bite unless frightened.

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