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Pet Rodents

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General Care for your Pet Rodent: the Easy & Fun Way

There are literally thousands of different types of rodents
that people may keep as pets. Here are some general tips on
keeping a pet rodent healthy and happy.

1. Be sure to plan well and have your cage set up properly,
food ready and such before you bring your pet rodent home,
so that you can simply put the box from the pet store or
breeder into the cage and release the animal. Don't try to
handle or get a response from your new pet the first day;
let it get used to its new home. It will likely hide for a
few hours or even days, and gradually come out and explore,
although the first explorations will probably be at night.

2. If you want to add a new pet to an established rodent
colony, be sure to research your particular species first.
Some rodents will do okay if they are allowed to get used to
each other slowly, either by putting the established and the
new animals together with plenty of food into a newly
cleaned cage (This cuts down on territorial fighting by
providing some neutral ground.) or by placing the animals in
separate cages next to each other for a few days before
carefully testing putting them together. If they aren't
fighting after the first day and night, the new animal will
probably be accepted into the colony. But with some species
of rodents, such as male mice and hamsters of either gender, a
new animal may be attacked or killed despite your best

3. All pets, even small animals such as mice, need daily
care. You need to make sure that they have adequate food and
water, and that all the animals are getting access to both.
Change the water in the water bottle at least every two days
whether it is empty or not, to keep it fresh and prevent
algae growth.

Every week or so you should change the bedding, and if the
animals use a particular part of the cage for a toilet clean
out the dirty litter from that area more often. Your nose
and your family will thank you, as will your pets. If the
animals are breeding, read up on whether you can disturb the
nest area without risking the babies being eaten by their
mother, a fairly common instinct in rodents if the babies
smell of human hands or something else strange.

4. To tame your pet rodent you will need to handle it daily
once it is acclimated to its cage and environment. When you
begin, simply put your hand into the cage with your pet and
let the rodent come to you and smell you and decide that you
are not threatening. Don't try to grab the animal or make
quick movements that may frighten it. Once it is climbing on
your hand without fear, you can scoop it up with your hand
underneath its body so that its feet have a secure spot to
stand. Never grab a rodent around its body or you may cause
internal injuries. If you must hold onto the rodent to
protect it from falling, grasp the tail as close to the body
as possible and support its body with the other hand.

When you handle your pet, health authorities recommend that
you wear gloves, as all rodents can bite and some can carry
diseases that you can catch. If you don't want to wear
gloves, at least wash your hands carefully with unscented
soap before handling your pets. Unusual smells can frighten
some animals, and food or perfume smells might make your pet
confuse your finger with a snack.

5. Nearly all rodents live in nests that they build from
dried vegetation and other things, or in burrows. In
captivity some will need a deep litter substrate that they
can burrow and nest in, others may need a nesting box. It's
important to know what is best for your species. Don't ever
use cedar or pine shavings for rodents, as they can cause
respiratory problems in rodents.

You may also want to give your rodents materials other than
litter to provide environmental stimuli and ease nest-
building. You might offer small pieces of cloth, untreated
paper, string, and empty tubes from toilet paper and paper
towel rolls. Small rodents will use the paper tubes for
hiding places and tunnels, and eventually turn them into
nesting material with their gnawing.

6. All rodents gnaw to keep their ever-growing teeth worn
down and sharpened, so your pet will need some untreated,
non-toxic wood to chew. Be sure that the wood you get isn't
full of insects and hasn't been chemically or pressure
treated, and know the species of tree it is from and that it
is one that is nontoxic to small animals. If you don't give
your rodents proper chewing material, you may be amazed at
what they gnaw, from their water bottles to the calking or
wooden parts of their cage. Some rodents such as chinchillas
and duprasi will also need special "chinchilla dust" so they
can take dust baths and keep their fur clean and in order.

7. Exercise and fun are important too, even to small
rodents. Consider a rodent wheel so that your pets can run
when they choose. Wild rodents run nearly everywhere they
go, and the exercise of running will help keep your pets in
top condition. Buy a plastic wheel without spokes if
possible, as some small rodents have caught their tails in
spoked wheels and had them broken. You can probably think of
other things that may amuse your pets, just be sure that
they aren't made of soft plastic or other materials that
might injure your rodent when, not if, it tries to gnaw

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Page By: Tippy & Alfred who have always said, sometimes you get
the bear and sometimes the bear gets you. Thank you for taking really
good care of your pet rodent.