Rodents are one of the easiest pets to care for and are a perfect option for families that are not ready for the responsibilities of a dog or cat, or who have limited space in their home. Handling a pet rodent should be reserved for older kids and adults, as rough activity from a young child or dropping the pet can cause serious trauma or injury. Most pet rodents require a wood chew or a mineral salt stone to prevent teeth from becoming overgrown, and many also enjoy tubes to crawl through and chew toys. If you are considering a pet rodent and already have other pets, be advised that reptiles, ferrets, cats, and dogs are potential predators of rodents and should remain supervised when in their presence.
The following species-specific facts offer a little insight into owning various species of pet rodents:
Rodents need to be housed in an escape-proof enclosure, preferably with a solid floor to prevent foot injuries. The floor of an enclosure should be covered with bedding material made of shredded paper or newspaper, fabric, or aspen shavings. Do not use pine or cedar bedding for rodents as they can cause health issues. Also, do not place rodents in glass enclosures, because they heat too quickly and can cause sudden death.
What do rodents eat?
When introducing a new food, be sure to gradually incorporate it into your rodent’s diet. Abrupt changes could cause gastrointestinal pain. Also, be sure to keep a constant water supply using a sipper bottle on the side of the cage. Please remember that seed diets are not recommended and can lead to malnutrition and starvation.
How to handle a rodent
Pet owners get bit most often when trying to pick-up or handle their rodent. Properly lifting a rodent can prevent pain and allows your pet to be more relaxed thus less likely to bite. Pick up your rodent by gently squeezing around their body along the ribcage area just below the neck, or pick them up by gently scooping underneath them with two hands. Avoid pulling up on the skin above their necks and do not pull their tails; both are very painful and could cause an animal to get frightened or angry and bite. Additionally, guinea pigs prefer to be held close to your body as it makes them feel sheltered and secure. Without holding them close, they may wriggle away or squeal with nervousness.