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Small Pet Care Tips - Care for Ferretts, Rabbits, Hamsters & Gerbils

1. Wherever your pet is, make sure that it can easily and quickly be identified. Options include cage cards (when boarded), tattoos, ear tags, ID badges, and embedded microchips (when feasible).
2. Litter train your pet when feasible in order to minimize clean-ups.
3. Learn as much as possible about your special breed of pet before taking it home.
4. Teach yourself and others how to safely handle your pet. Mice, for example, should never be picked up by the tail or rabbits by their ears. In general, supervise children; fragile pets (birds, gerbils, etc.) may not be good pets for very young children.
5. Indoor housing is always preferable because of predator, weather, and vandal concerns.
6. Avoid wire-bottom cages which can ulcerate the feet of some pets; make sure housing is adequate for each pet, big enough for exercise, and escape-proof.
7. Keep housing dry and clean; clear out waste, rotted food, and built-up organic material on a weekly basis.
8. In addition to recommended regular food, give pets nutritious treats: dark leaf lettuce, collard greens, turnip greens, carrot tops, cucumbers, corn, peas, pears, apples, etc. are good food choices for pets like hamsters, gerbils, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and birds.
9. Avoid these treats: cabbage, potatoes, onions, uncooked beans, chocolate, candy, carbonated drinks, alcohol, junk food, avocado, cherry pits, rhubarb, apple seeds, etc.
10. Fill pet housing with grass hay, shredded paper towels, pelleted-newspaper litter. Avoid using pine or cedar shavings and clay or chemically treated litter (may pose respiratory or gastrointestinal problems).
11. Brush and bathe your pet regularly.
12. Keep housing away from drafts and extreme temperatures; provide consistent, pet-specific climates.
13. Provide clean water at all times.
14. Provide pet-specific playthings: untreated wood and branches, exercise wheels, perches, swings, etc. Plastic and cardboard toys may be chewed to pieces.
15. Watch out for common signs of sickness: difficulty breathing, sneezing, coughing, diarrhea, lethargy, external signs of parasites (mites, fleas, lice, etc.), etc. Seek immediate veterinary care.
16. Learn about and cater to your pet's specific weaknesses: gerbils have poor eyesight (may fall from high places), guinea pigs cannot manufacture vitamin C, mice can escape through wide wire enclosures, etc.
17. Recognize and respect your pet's sleeping patterns: hamsters are nocturnal; gerbils are diurnal; etc.
18. For dental good health, feed animals dry, chewable treats and allow them to play with toys that they can explore with their teeth.
19. Take your animal out in a safe environment for exercise on a regular basis. Recognize some pets like being handled while others prefer to be left alone.
20. Keep pets in approved containers when traveling; avoid exposing them to extreme weather conditions; determine ahead of time if pets are welcome.
21. Avoid overfeeding.
22. Keep water in aquariums pH balanced, at even, pet-appropriate temperatures, and clean (with proper filters).
23. Provide company for social pets; give privacy to loners.
24. Provide hiding places/digging areas for rodents.
25. Create and have prepared emergency plans that include evacuation, sudden trips, and emergency medical treatment.