Despite their size, many small pets provide their owners with great joy. These tiny creatures are just as playful and cuddly as a dog or cat, but they often require less room and maintenance. Plus, a few small mammals, like the chinchilla and the hedgehog, produce less dander. No matter where you live, how old you are, or what allergies you have, we can help you find the perfect compact companion. Use the tips below to better understand how to properly handle and care for your tiny animal so that he or she remains safe and healthy for years.
Small Animal Care
Choosing Your Small Animal
Before committing to a species, do your research to understand that animal’s characteristics and needs. For example, did you know that rats are curious and thrive on interaction? Rats match well with owners that have time to devote to working with them. In addition, consider reading books about the small animals that interest you most. Popular pets include gerbils, hamsters, rats, mice, guinea pigs, bunnies, and ferrets.
Remember that each of these mammals requires a different set of care tips and needs. To find a pet that fits your lifestyle, learn about the dietary, grooming, and supply needs of your options. Finally, consider their habits and your environment. Some small mammals are nocturnal, which may not be a good fit for light sleepers. Also, families with babies or toddlers will need to make sure that the small animal cannot be mistaken for a toy. This initial research is crucial both before you purchase your pet and after, when you’re learning to properly care for it.
Regular Veterinarian Visits
Regular visits to the vet are vital to keeping your pet healthy and happy. At minimum, take your pet to a veterinary office once a year for an annual health screening. While you’re there, you can ask the doctor about proper nutrition, weight management, and any other concerns you have about your furry friend.
Don’t have a vet yet? You can visit the website of the American Animal Hospital Association for a list of accredited vet practices in your area. In addition, consider asking for recommendations from friends and family, especially if you know someone who also owns a small pet.
Choosing an Enclosure
The larger, the better when it comes to cages and enclosures for small pets. At minimum, your small pet’s enclosure should be large enough for him or her to move around comfortably once he or she has reached maturity. In addition, be sure to position the enclosure away from direct sunlight, air conditioning and heating vents, radiators, and drafts to regulate the temperature.
Provide your small pet with toys, a litter box, bedding, bowls for food and fresh water, and other accessories recommended for his or her species. Finally, select a bedding that absorbs moisture, helps eliminate odor, and is both biodegradable and digestible.
Exercise and Handling
Most small pets appreciate regular, gentle handling. Do not pick them up by their tails. Remember that the more they socialize with humans, the less likely they are to bite out of fear. Before allowing someone to handle your pet (especially a child), teach them how to properly hold the animal and interact with it.
Just like other pets, small mammals require exercise. Exercise can help pets maintain a healthy weight, improve their strength, and increase range of motion in their joints. Beyond that, regular time out of their enclosure promotes movement and stretching, which can benefit your pet’s balance, agility, and even improve their overall well-being. Make sure that the time spent out of their enclosure is safe and supervised. You may want to pet-proof any room that you allow them to explore, to reduce the risk of injury or escape.
If you still have questions about selecting or caring for a small animal, visit Petsway today. You can explore our selection of live animals, get tips and advice from our friendly associates, and find the supplies you need to keep your furry friend happy and healthy.