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Veterinary Care in Massachusetts: Keep Small Rodents as Pets

small-rodentsBelieve it or not, many people keep small rodents as pets in the United States. Beyond the traditional cat and dog, stretching past the familiar hamster in a cage, there are many people who enjoy keeping domestic rats as pets. When it comes to getting veterinary care in Massachusetts for your pets, you can rely on Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth to provide veterinary check-up services and emergency care for many different types of animals, including what are known as pocket pets.

Hamsters, gerbils, Guinea pigs, fancy mice and domesticated rats all fall under the “pocket pet” category, despite the fact that most people wouldn’t want to put any of these furry creatures into their pockets. Keeping small rodents as pets can be very rewarding and a great way for children to learn how to take care of something smaller than them. However, it is important to point out that small children should never be left unsupervised with any pet – pocket-size or not. This is to the benefit of both the child and the pet.

What to Expect from a Domesticated Rat

Rats that are kept as pets in the United States are typically descendants from the wild brown rat that have been bred as pets for over a hundred years. They enjoy being handled in a gentle manner and will even seek to sit on the laps and shoulders of their human friends. Ranging between 14-18 inches in length, there are a variety of colors and fur types available to choose from when adopting these small rodents as pets. Bringing your pet rat in for a veterinary check-up is recommended, especially when the pet is brand new. With proper care and treatment, most pet rats can live healthy lives for up to three years.

Rats are very smart and are always looking for an adventure. This makes them ideal for an active child who has been taught proper care, feeding and interaction to ensure the safety and well-being of the pet rat. If an accident were to occur, Anchor Animal Hospital is also the leading Dartmouth emergency vet and can provide veterinary care in Massachusetts for pet owners even without an appointment. Annual veterinary check-up appointments will help to keep your pet rat healthy throughout its lifetime.

Creating a Proper Habitat

Adopting a pet should be viewed as a learning experience for the entire family. Take time to research keeping small rodents as pets, what they eat, what they require for housing and how much it will cost to care for them throughout the year. Latest estimates reveal that it will cost under $350 a year to house, feed, care and provide annual veterinary care in Massachusetts for a pet rat. Compare to cats, dogs and more exotic animals, rats really are a very cost-effective choice. Spaying and neutering your pet rat should definitely be considered whether you have him living a solitary life or with other rats. Rats are very social, so many recommend that they be adopted in pairs.

Wire cages are a good choice because rats really do love to climb. The wire enclosure also offers good ventilation. The bare minimum size of the cage should be 24 inches by 24 inches by 24 inches. Larger is always better, as the more space they have for bedding, food and “bathroom” activities, the healthier they will be. The floor should be a solid material, not bare wire mesh. Bedding should be provided made from recycled paper, pellets or aspen. Pine and cedar shavings should be avoided at all costs because they have been proven to be harmful to pets, despite the fact that they are still sold at many pet stores.

Multi-level cages that are designed for use by ferrets can be a good choice for a pair of rats. Just make sure that you provide lots of things for the rats to play with and play on, such as toys, boxes, hide-away huts, exercise wheels and other activities. Tree branches and even toys made for parrots can often be appreciated by a pet rat. Running wheels and even giant hamster-like tubes can be a lot of fun. Rats get bored easily and when they get bored they will look for ways to break out of their cage. Keeping your rat healthy, happy and entertained is in everyone’s best interest.

Choosing the Best Diet

When you visit Anchor Animal Hospital for your initial veterinary check-up after you decide to keep small rodents as pets, make sure to ask about diet. Many pet stores have pellet feed and other seed or variety options available, but all products labeled “rat food” are not created equal. In addition to a pre-packaged base food, veterinary care in Massachusetts recommends that rats should be given access to fresh fruits and veggies on a daily basis. Some of the foods that will provide nutrition and be appreciated by your pet rat most include bananas, apples, carrots and broccoli.

Like dogs, rats love people food, but it is important to limit their intake of treats and junk food. It is important to know what is safe for your new pet rat and what isn’t to avoid a trip to the Dartmouth emergency vet in the middle of the night. Never give your pet rat candy, onions, corn, chocolate, caffeine, peanut butter, sticky foods, carbonated drinks or any other type of junk food. Make sure to always provide fresh, clean water throughout the day via a drinking bottle with a tube that is attached to the cage.

Get a Veterinary Check-up Right Away

Make sure to bring your pet rat to Anchor Animal Hospital for a veterinary check-up as soon as you can to ensure that he is in good condition. Starting out your new friendship on a healthy path will help your pet rat to enjoy a long life of fun and happiness in your care. Call Anchor at 508-996-3731 to schedule an appointment for proper veterinary care in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Do not sign on for something that you won’t be able to keep up with as a result of the demands required by work, school and life. Keeping small rodents as pets requires a lot of time, attention and dedication.