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  • December 08, 2022 3 min read

    Small animals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and ferrets, make fantastic pets, but they definitely are not a setup-and-forget type of pet. As with all animals, our smaller pets need you to provide them with the basic life essentials, such as water, food, shelter, vet care, exercise, and love. If you have embarked on the journey of owning a smaller animal (or are thinking about it!), then keep reading to learn about our top tips on what you need to know about caring for smaller critters.

    1. Food and water 

    All animals need food and water to survive. For smaller animals, water is often provided in a water bottle, attached to the cage, and offers small amounts of water to the animal. While you can also provide water in a bowl, the biggest advantage to providing water in a drink bottle is that it keeps the water cleaner for longer and stop from s it from being splashed around the cage! Make sure you regularly clean the water to ensure it is fresh! 

    In terms of food, small animals should be provided with pellets tailored to their requirements. This will ensure they receive the necessary vitamins and minerals for optimum health. For example, guinea pigs require added vitamin C in their diets to prevent scurvy. 

    Hay is also an essential component of a small animal diet and should be available 24/7. You can feed oaten or meadow hay to your small animals; however, grass hay such as timothy is best. Avoid Lucerne hay, as the calcium levels are too high for animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits. 

    You may have also heard that small animals love kitchen scraps, which is true for the most part. Guinea pigs and rabbits, for example, love greens and a variety of veggies and fruit, and you will often hear their happy sequels when opening a bag of spinach. However, there are some fruits and vegetables that are toxic to smaller animals, such as potatoes, onions, and garlic, to name a few. Before feeding any kitchen scraps to your smaller pets, ensure that it is not toxic!

    2. Shelter and Bedding 

    Small animals need to be housed in an appropriate enclosure to keep them safe from predators and escaping. It is personal preference whether your pets be housed inside or outside, but they must have adequate space to run and move and shelter to protect them from the weather. If your pets are housed outside, it is also worthwhile to ensure that their enclosure can't be accessed by foxes, hawks or feral cats, or any other predator. 

    In terms of bedding, if you are keeping your smaller pets in a cage or small enclosure, then you will need to use some form of bedding. This can be wood or hemp shavings, paper pellets, or fleece absorbent liners. Whichever bedding you choose, the enclosure should be cleaned daily, with a deeper clean once a week. 

    3. Companionship 

    Smaller animals tend to live together in herds or groups, so you must have at least two of a kind. Having at least two of your chosen pets will ensure that you are meeting their companionship and social needs, keeping them happy and healthy. A word of warning, though, when getting two, you may want to double-check that they are the same gender; otherwise, you may have more than you bargained (and budgeted!) for! 

    4. Grooming and nail clippings 

    Smaller animals must have their nails clipped regularly to keep them short, and comfortable. Some rabbits and guinea pigs have gorgeous, long coats and will need to be groomed periodically. It is a good idea to check over your smaller pets regularly to ensure that they don't have any injuries or wounds or even changes to their coat, which can mean a mite infestation, leading to your small animal becoming unwell. 

    5. Regular interaction with you 

    In many cases, smaller animals are bought as pets for children, and while they make excellent pets, they must be regularly interacted with and not forgotten about. Interacting with your pets will not only keep you both happy, but it will ensure that they are conditioned around people, making them friendlier and easier to handle. 

    6. Health Oversight 

    All pets require routine health oversight with their vet. This is essential to keep any vaccinations up to date, and to ensure that they are in good health. 

    Small animals make excellent pets and will keep your household entertained with their antics for a long time. If you need any assistance with choosing appropriate food, bedding, or enclosures, please visit us in store or online and we will be more than happy to help! 

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