People don’t usually keep rodents as pets. Even if they do it is usually a guinea pig or a hamster. Rats and mice are also petted but rarely. But if you have recently bought one of these puffy yet delicate beings you need to know how to take their proper care. Big animals like cats and dogs, are easy to take care in terms of food, cleaning, bonding and petting. Coming to the rodents, even they require love and bonding which may turn out to be difficult considering their size and behavior.
Here are few points to help guide how to develop a better relation with your little rodent.
The size of the cage depends upon the size and number of pets you keep. Hamster adults are about 6 inches so a 12*18 size cage would be fine for a single hamster. Hamsters are solitary animals, hence should be kept a hamster per cage. Gerbils are petit and grow up to just four inches. They are social animals so it is better to keep them in a pair or a group. A 12*24 size cage would provide enough space for a pair. Mice make it to just 3 inches and like gerbils tend to stay in pairs or groups. They need a small 12*18 size cage although the size can be varied if you increase the count. Rats and guinea pigs on the other hand reach a length of 8 and 10 inches respectively. You can get a cage of size 24*36 or can even make a little home with the household items for the guinea pigs, your rat my chew off its home, hence a cage is better option.
Bedding and Accessories
The bedding shouldn’t be made of an absorbent material. Normally pine wood shavings and paper-based pallets are comfortable for your pet and even keep the bad odor away. Make sure you don’t provide wired bedding for your rodent as spending time on wired base leads to bumble-foot, a bacterial infection associated with feet. Rats tend to litter waste in one corner of the cage, you need to make sure you clean the cage regularly, at least once a week and restore the bedding back. Rats and mice like to climb over the cage. You can add certain toys and accessories to the cage for your rodent’s playtime. Some rodents like to run on wheels while others don’t. You can get some toys which your rats and mice can chew upon and rotate them so that it doesn’t feel bored.
Hamsters, guinea pigs can be given similar diets like whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits and other healthy things. Pellet food is considered best for your pet. You can also try human food, as long as it is healthy and not junk food. Dwarf hamsters are prone to diabetes, so sugar and fatty foods should be avoided. If you have a rat or mice low fat meal can be given occasionally including cheese and nuts apart from bread, rice yogurt. A low fat high fiber diet is preferable. Rats get tempted with sweet food items like sugar and chocolate but this tendency of developing a sweet tooth must be avoided. Make sure you give clean drinking water to your rodent. The water should be changed regularly and take care that bowls don’t get contaminated with algae. Your rodent requires water regularly and may be ill otherwise.
Cleaning and grooming
Rats don’t usually require cleaning and grooming as they clean themselves by licking. But if you feel the fur becoming dirty or the tail turning black with dirt, you can give it a slightly warm bath. Bathing should be done once per month only if necessary. Same applies to hamsters, guinea pigs and other rodents as well. Take care that the water doesn’t go the eyes. DO NOT put shampoo anywhere around eyes. Clean the face with a damp towel. For the first time, the bath can be intimidating for your pet and it may try to run off. You can first make it comfortable by placing it in an inch or two of water and let it get used to the wetness. Use only a drop of shampoo and not more than that. Rinse and little and wash off. Clean the tail with a soft brush in case of a rat, being long and skinny it often gets dirty. You can even trim off the nails if you think they are too long by using normal nail-cutter but be careful with not to cut the pink skin. A vet can be consulted in this case.
It is better that kids don’t handle these rodents themselves as they are delicate creatures. Squeezing and dropping down can cause harm to your pet. Though they can be social, but rats, mice and gerbils are generally nocturnal and can be disturbing throughout the night. They may not like getting disturbed during the day, as they sleep most of the time. They are playful but not that responsive, though they can be tamed by frequent handling and spending some time with your pet both when inside and outside its cage. Get few toys for your rodents to chew upon and when you leave them out make sure you don’t keep any valuables in their way as they can chew off almost anything.
Spend time with your pet and don’t just keep it because it is cute, furry and adorable. Take proper care of it and let it enjoy your company.