Taking care of larger pets, such as cats and dogs, can be a challenge for many people, depending on their situation. If you don’t have access to a backyard for letting the dog out to “do his business” and are forced to walk them several times a day, it can be difficult – especially in the winter. Pocket pets are an excellent solution for people who don’t have the time or ability to take a dog for a walk. Even easier to take care of than a cat, many pocket pets live inside of a caged habitat for the majority of each day, coming out for grooming, petting, maintenance, training, and socializing with their humans. Gerbils, hamsters, ferrets, rabbits, and Guinea pigs are among the animals that fall into this category. If you have ever thought about keeping small rodents as pets, make sure to consider these tips from Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth for the best possible methods to use for year-round care.

Establishing a Proper Habitat

The needs of a hamster are much different than the needs of a ferret. While they might seem similar, it is essential to know what each animal requires to live a happy and healthy life. There are many unique types of enclosures that you can choose for your pet, including tanks, cages, terrariums, and hutches. Besides knowing the size and type of pen that your pet will require, you also need to learn about substrates, bedding, and other necessities. Certain materials that are sold in pet stores can be toxic or dangerous to some types of small rodents as pets. Take the time to research what your pet needs – taking care to read over winter tips for small pets for keeping them safe in cold temperatures – and what you can do to ensure that they are comfortable.

An escape-proof enclosure is a must if you will be outside of the home for any length of period, such as going to school or work. Many of these pocket pets are expert escape artists and would give Houdini a run for his money! You don’t want to end up at the Dartmouth emergency vet because your hamster escaped from his cage and fell from an extreme height. Hamsters are strong and determined, but their eyesight is not particularly good. That means that they can fall easily. Ensuring that your pet has plenty of space to move around in, lots of toys and exercise equipment to keep them busy, along with fresh water and a proper diet is the best thing you can do as a pet owner. While this might seem like a lot, you can find plenty of professional information and support online that will help you get started. Contacting Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth for a new pet well-check or to speak with a veterinarian about diet and habitat can be helpful.

Other Safety Considerations

As you spend some time researching the requirements of different small pets, including rodents, birds, reptiles, and other species, also be sure to check out any unique needs that an animal might need. For example, reptiles must have a climate-controlled environment with daytime and nighttime lighting, heating, and – for some types – moisture and misting. Small rodents as pets are a bit easier, requiring only a handful of toys, wheels, mazes, and substrate for burrowing. Keeping them warm in the winter is important, but it is essential to know a specific temperature range and keep them away from direct heat sources, such as heating vents and fireplaces.

Ferrets are like toddlers – you will need to ferret-proof your home. They can open cabinets and cupboards, crawl into surprisingly tight spaces, and get into all sorts of trouble. Certain species – but definitely not all – require a companion to stay happy. This can include rabbits and chinchillas, as well as other larger rodent species. However, others see a companion as more of a threat and could ultimately fight to the death. Lifespan should also be considered, as some birds can live up to 80 years, and there are reptiles like tortoises that have lived to be more than 100!

Schedule a Veterinary Appointment

Whichever type of pet you choose, make sure to schedule an appointment with Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth for a new pet check-up. Small rodents as pets, as well as other small animals commonly kept as pets in New England, require proper nutrition and care. While not as demanding as cats and dogs, there are still things that must be done to keep them healthy. Keep contact information handy, such as our Dartmouth emergency vet numbers and emergency at-home care for injuries and incidents, depending on your chosen pet’s tendencies and behaviors. To schedule an appointment or to learn more year-round and winter tips for small pets in Southcoast, contact our team at 508-996-3731.