House Index |
Mice, Rats, Gerbils & Hamsters
These are nice, compact pets and they are fairly inexpensive to get started with (see "Do Your Pet homework" for an estimated starting cost).
With most members of the rodent family having a life span of approximately 2 years, it's important to keep in mind that you are not looking at a long time arrangement. While rodents make great pets for a student or families with not much room for keeping a pet, you may want to reconsider your decision if the pet is meant to be for a small child as rodents often have quite a nasty bite until they are trained and become familiar with you as a friend. I recommend for the small people to get a Guinea Pig instead as they are often more calm and less likely to bite.
You can choose from one of several housing arrangements when setting up a home for your new pet. You can use one of the commercial "habitrail" type set-ups if you wish to get very creative with your housing arrangements, but a simple aquarium with a screen cover will do quite nicely and is usually less expensive. Whichever you choose, make sure that it has a tight lid so that your pet does not get loose. Rodents love to chew on things and if they get loose in your house electrical cords will be one of the things they most likely will chew on. This is harmful to your pet as well as an annoyance to yourself.
Other supplies you will need are: a water bottle (special holders for the aquarium are available for these) or a water dish (a heavy ceramic one is best they wont be able to dump it over and unable to chew it up), and a food dish (again heavy ceramic is best).
You will want to purchase a toy - the exercise wheel will be a favorite choice, but choose carefully; a metal one often squeaks and since your pet is nocturnal you may hear this squeak while you are trying to sleep. There is also a ball you can buy that you place your pet in and as he runs the ball rolls across the floor. The only down side I see of these is your pet is only able to play and get exercise when you choose to let him.
You will need a good litter for the bottom of the cage. The litter will need to be changed often; never let it get dirty or remain damp because it can be a source of illness for you pet, as well as being quite smelly. I prefer corncob or white pine shavings. I never use cedar because it develops a terrible odor when it gets wet. Your pet will make his own bed with the shavings, but pet stores also have a bedding material you can purchase; its a nice way to pamper your new pet.
Buy a good food from the pet store, making sure by the date that it is fresh. As this type of food will contain some seed you don't want to purchase food that may be moldy or old. I recommend buying small amounts of food and buying more often to keep it fresh as possible. You will also need to buy some chew sticks so that your pet can keep his teeth worn down; this is very essential.
Spend lots of time with your pet to keep it tame. Purchase a book when you purchase your pet or do lots of reading before hand to be sure you know exactly what to expect in the care of your pet. Nothing takes the place of following your veterinarian's advice concerning the health and welfare of your pet and when in doubt, call him. Keep his number close to the phone in case of emergency.
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