by Absolute Pets

top tips on small pet care
Our range of products for small pets like rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, rodents and chinchillas is growing. In this article we’ll touch on some top tips for their care. We hope it helps you to provide the best care for your small pet and allows him or her to live a happy and healthy life.

With thanks to Dr Ilse Jenkinson at Cape Exotic Animal Hospital for sharing her expertise with us.

RABBITS

1. Invest in a quality diet.

Rabbits need fibre which they get from hay so you’ll need to ensure they have unlimited access to hay at all times. See our full range of rabbit food here.

2. Find a steady supply of greens.

It’s also important to give them green, leafy vegetables, such as herbs, watercress, cucumbers, sprouts and lettuce (except iceberg lettuce).

3. Make sure they have fresh water.

Ensure your rabbit has cool, non-chlorinated water to keep them hydrated and their digestive systems healthy.

4. Bunny-proof your home.

Rabbits can be energetic pets and they love to chew, especially if they are bored. Keep any electrics out of the way and anything that they may want to chew but shouldn’t.

5. Buy some toys.

Rabbits are active and playful so you need to keep them entertained. They love toys and will play for hours!

6. Be wary of rearranging their home.

Once your rabbit has settled into their home, don’t rearrange it as this makes them feel uncomfortable. 

7. Make sure they have plenty of space and somewhere warm to sleep.

Your rabbit may have very specific needs so be sure to consult the experts. Make sure they have plenty of space to exercise and somewhere warm and protected.

See what’s on promotion for rabbits here.

HAMSTERS

1. Invest in a quality diet.

Pellets created for hamsters should make up the bulk of their diet as they offer complete and balanced nutrition. See here for hamster food on promotion.

2. Add some vegetables.

Some other foods that are safe to give your hamster include broccoli, carrots, cucumber, kale hay and peas. For a tasty treat you can give them sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.

3. Steer clear of toxic foods.

Not all fruits and veggies are safe for hamsters. Foods to avoid include raw beans, raw potatoes, onions, almonds, citrus fruits, almonds or any salty or sugary foods.

4. Give them a place to hide.

Hamsters need lots of places to bury, dig, hide and climb, so create some levels and include obstacles like hidden boxes and tunnels when setting up their cage.

5. Buy them an exercise wheel.

Exercise wheels are a great way to keep them mentally stimulated and will help with maintaining their weight too. 

6. Give them something to help grind their teeth.

Hamsters are always searching for something to grind their teeth into – this is because their teeth are constantly growing. For this reason, it’s a good idea to provide soft wood blocks in their cage or alternatively some gnaw sticks made from 100% natural, wholesome ingredients. 

GUINEA PIGS

1. Invest in a good diet.

Hay is very important for guinea pigs as it helps with their digestion. However, the bulk of their diet should consist of leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, parsley, kale and coriander. See our range of guinea pig food on promotion here.

2. Include a good source of Vitamin C.

Guinea pigs can’t manufacture their own Vitamin C so you need to ensure their diet includes vegetables such as red pepper, broccoli or tomatoes. Alternatively find a guinea pig food, such as this Gerty Guinea Pig Tasty Mix or the Burgess Excel Nuggets with Mint that includes added Vitamin C. 

3. Treat them with fruit.

As a treat, you can give them a small piece of fruit like apples, oranges, blueberries or bananas, once a day or a few times a week.

4. Give them lots of space.

Guinea pigs need a lot of floor space and if they are going to be kept in a cage, it is important to ensure that it is relatively large and is lined with hay.

5. Make their environment interesting and fun.

Keep their environment stimulating with tunnels for them to hide in, shelves to hide underneath or explore on top, logs for them to gnaw on and rocks to keep their nails worn down. Forage bags are an excellent way to keep them entertained.

6. Get to know their unique personality.

Guinea pigs have big personalities, some can be shy while others can be confident. When they are happy, they make a quiet vibrating sound (like cats when they purr). However, when you hear their teeth chattering this is a good indication that they are angry or in an aggressive mood.

See what’s on promotion for guinea pigs here.

CHINCHILLAS

1. Invest in a good diet.

A chinchilla’s diet should be made up of up to 90% high-quality grass hay and this should be available at all times. Pellets should be plain, hay-based pellets and measured out daily (about 1–2 tablespoons per day).

2. Add a little fresh produce.

Chinchillas can have small amounts of fresh produce as treats like dried rose hips, dried dandelion, rosemary and parsley.

3. Steer clear of anything sugary.

Don’t be tempted to spoil them with a sugary commercial treat – it’s simply not good for them.

4. Ensure they have access to fresh water.

 Make sure they can always get fresh water, preferably in a bottle. 

5. Give them some toys.

Chinchillas are active and curious creatures who have a lot of energy so give them toys to keep them busy and include blocks of wood, perches or ladders in their environment as they love to climb. A large exercise wheel is a great addition too.

6. Don’t let them get wet, ever!

It is important never to get a chinchilla’s body even a little bit wet as their fur can become tightly compacted, creating an uncomfortable mass that can lead to fungal infections.

7. Keep their teeth in good shape.

Like other rodents, they keep their teeth trim by gnawing and chewing so make sure you have appropriate gnaw sticks (high in beneficial fibre) or wooden toys for them to do so. 

8. Watch out for ‘fur slip’.

Chinchillas can lose patches of fur when you pick them up if they are trying to get away from you. It is a defense mechanism called a ‘fur slip’, this fur will grow back.

9. Get to know their unique personalities

When they are happy or excited chinchillas hop around and can hop up to 6 feet in the air! They spread their whiskers apart when they are exploring, but also when they are frightened or nervous – this helps them get a better feel for their surroundings.

See what’s on promotion for chinchillas here.

RODENTS

1. Ensure they get lots of exercise

It’s a good idea to invest in some suitable toys or interactive items like a ladder or climbing toy or an exercise wheel to keep them busy and active.

2. Provide some hiding spots for them

Rodents like hiding spots or bedding that they can burrow deep into for several reasons. This is where they like to build their nests, but a deep hiding spot also helps maintain their high body temperature and makes them feel safe.

3. Don’t feed them human food or sugary treats

Other than a nutritionally balanced rat food or rat nuggets you can give them a variety of healthy foods like fruit and vegetables (apples, broccoli and peas for example). If you’d like to treat them you can give them whole shelled nuts like almonds or walnuts, but in very small amounts.

4. Give them something suitable to chew on

Rats love to chew and wear down their teeth so make sure you have suitable chew toys or something for them to chew and gnaw on.


Everything you need

From food and cleaning products to a cosy home, you’ll find everything you need in our small pet range.

 

Get in touch

Rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and chinchillas all have very specific needs so we highly recommend you contact a specialist vet for their expertise.

A huge thank you to Dr Ilse Jenkinson at Cape Exotic Animal Hospital for sharing her expertise with us and helping us put together this article.

And remember, we are also here to help so visit your local Absolute Pets store or get in touch with us online, or on Facebook.

 

Happy & Healthy

Absolute Pets

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