We're often asked for advice on small furry pets, and we absolutely love talking about them.
We understand that when visiting the vets, it's important to have a designated place our small furry friends will feel safe. This is why our Roundhouse veterinary hospital has a designated ward, exclusively for our small furry patients!
When people ask us for advice, we always start at the beginning. Ask yourself if you're in a position to dedicate the time, effort, space and the money required to keep a pet. There are big differences between the types of small furry pets and the care they require.
Rats are diurnal - so awake and playing during the day and asleep at night. They also make excellent pets as they're relatively easy to care for, and if handled from a young age, rarely bite. They can be trained easily as well - all you need is a few treats and some patience. Plus, the more time spent with them, the more likely they are to exhibit their individual personalities.
In terms of practicalities, rats need a secure and interesting enclosure, bedding that prevents dust formation, as well as a balanced diet and plenty of stimulation to keep their minds and bodies active. They commonly suffer from respiratory disease, and unfortunately are prone to certain types of cancers. Despite this, we reckon they make brilliant and fun pets.
Mice are more fragile than rats, and can be less interested in human contact. Mice are also particularly active at dusk and dawn, and unlike their rat cousins, are nocturnal which means they may be noisy at night and inactive during the day. Mice are less easy to handle as well, so that, together with their sleeping habits and strong-smelling enclosures, mean that they will only suit some perspective pet owners.
Whilst hamsters are very popular pets, they do have a reputation for being ‘biters’ if not handled a lot from a young age. They can however be really fun, and when kept properly can be a great pet-owning experience for kids. Although they should be handled regularly, hamsters offer mainly “hands-off” fun, from watching them fill their cheek pouches and manipulate food pieces with their paws to building their nests and using their exercise balls or wheels.
Gerbils are used to living in the desert, and in the wild, dig burrows and cope with extreme temperatures. Being hardy and normally very sociable, they are an easy pet to keep, so long as they are kept as a single sex group. They don’t often bite, but as with all small furries, an effort should be made to get them used to being handled from a young age.
Gerbils build amazing underground tunnels, and if housed in a glass half-peat filled tank, will connect any piping that you leave for them, creating underground networks.
No matter which small furry pet you chose, care at home and diet are vital to ensuring your pet is kept as healthy as possible. The diets of each species are different, and a lot of problems can be minimised if the optimal diet is fed. Environmental considerations before you go ahead and purchase a small furry pet should include; bedding, bottles, bowls, heating, temperature and lighting.
Information on all of these subjects is something that both our vets and our nurses are always happy to help you with! Please remember that if you'd like some specific advice or to have chat about any other species, to get in touch.