Selecting the perfect "pocket pet"

General Information

Pet rodents, sometimes also referred to as "pocket pets" are very popular pets. Hamsters, rats, mice, gerbils, and guinea pigs are the most common rodents kept as pets. They make good first pets for young children and as a rule require minimal care. Compared to dogs and cats, they have a shorter life span (2-5 years depending upon the species). Young children should be told this so that the "sudden death" of a 3-year-old pet does not come unexpectedly. As with any pet, they do occasionally get sick, and their illnesses are can be severe.

Most rodents eat some combination of pelleted hay, rodent chow, grains, seeds, vegetables and fruits, with the amount of each depending on the rodent.

The incisors or front teeth of all rodents grow continuously throughout the pet's life. Overgrown incisors are a common problem and can be prevented or minimized by providing the pet with gnawing opportunities such as access to pieces of wood and other chewing objects or toys. Treatment of overgrown incisors involves trimming (grinding or filing) by your veterinarian, often under anesthesia. In addition to their incisors, guinea pigs and chinchillas also have continuously growing molar or cheek teeth, as do rabbits (although rabbits are lagomorphs, not rodents).

For more information on caring for and selecting the right pet for you family visit: By Rick Axelson, DVM




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