Great Things Come in Small Packages

If you’re not sure that your family is ready for a dog or a cat, you may want to start ‘small’ with a guinea pig, hamster, rabbit, or other small pet. Small animals make great companions for both children and adults.

Care

While it may seem that small animals are easier to care for than dogs or cats, small animals still require daily care.

It’s important that your small animal gets used to you and other members of the household after bringing them home. They should also become accustomed to being handled. If your child is going to be the ‘primary’ caregiver, ensure that they are involved with caring for the pet right from the beginning.

Feeding your new pet a small treat is a great way to have them warm up to you. When they’re comfortable with that, you can carefully pick them up with one hand supporting their bottom and the other over their back. Hold him or her for a short period at first, and then gradually increase your time holding them.

Teach your child to be very gentle with their new pet.

Exercise

We often overlook the importance of providing daily activity for small animals – guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and rabbits – because they seem to enjoy the comfort of their cages. They need companionship and activity for their overall health and wellbeing too! If you have multiple small animals, they might even enjoy playing together.

All small animals should partake in both physical and mental exercises every day. Most of the activities will relate to their burrowing and chewing instincts. Some equipment may help with daily activity, such as a running wheel. For hamsters, a wheel or saucer is important for exercise because they typically run a distance of about twelve kilometers per night.

TIP: Make sure an exercise wheel or ball is appropriate for your type of pet to prevent any injuries.

guinea-pig

Habitat

Small animals have natural burrowing instincts, so a great option to facilitate this is tunneling equipment.

Although cardboard tubes from toilet paper and paper towels can be used, they will get shredded quickly. Think about purchasing a cage that is equipped with tunnels; even ferrets are very curious and will love playing in tunnels (appropriately sized, of course!). Make sure the tunnels are easy to remove and reassemble so you can clean and disinfect them on a weekly basis.

Some small animals, such as ferrets and rats love to climb. Adding perches, swings and hammocks to their cages will encourage this. They may get chewed, but that’s part of your pet’s play too!

Gnawing is a favourite activity for small animals. To help maintain your small animal’s teeth, ensure that you provide safe things to chew on. There are vegetable flavoured or plain wood chew toys in a variety of shapes, colours and sizes, as well as hard alfalfa cubes. Some pets, like bunnies, guinea pigs and chinchillas must chew to keep their teeth trimmed, and prevent them from becoming in-grown.

Habitat

Be sure to provide the appropriate food for your small animal, as well as lots of fresh water every day. Check the cage for chewed or damaged areas, where your pet could escape. Remove any old food and check toys to make sure they are still working and in good condition. Your small animal’s cage should be kept in a safe and comfortable area in your home; cages should not be placed in drafty areas or in direct sunlight.

At Global Pet Foods, we have a wide variety of products suitable for small animals. Our Pet Care Specialists can help you select the right products that are appropriate for your pet, and provide you with guidance on caring for your small companion.

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