Rodents

Pet owner advice sheets

Chinchillas: routine health care

We are all familiar with the phrase "A healthy pet is a happy pet" - but there is probably also something to be said for keeping your chinchilla happy in order to maintain its health. If you know your pet you will probably quickly recognise the signs that suggest it is not well. What are... Read more »

Chinchillas: feeding a healthy diet

When chinchillas were first imported from South America - into the United States initially, and then into Europe - people found it really difficult, at first, to keep them alive in captivity. This was mainly because of a lack of understanding of what wild chinchillas eat. Chinchillas are entirely herbivorous (they only eat vegetable matter)... Read more »

Chinchillas: routine health care

We are all familiar with the phrase "A healthy pet is a happy pet" - but there is probably also something to be said for keeping your chinchilla happy in order to maintain its health. If you know your pet you will probably quickly recognise the signs that suggest it is not well. What are... Read more »

Chinchillas: feeding a healthy diet

When chinchillas were first imported from South America - into the United States initially, and then into Europe - people found it really difficult, at first, to keep them alive in captivity. This was mainly because of a lack of understanding of what wild chinchillas eat. Chinchillas are entirely herbivorous (they only eat vegetable matter)... Read more »

Gerbils: housing

In the wild gerbils live in burrows and spend the most of their time foraging for food, so you should try to mimic this environment for your gerbil when creating a home for him. Your gerbil will need plenty of room to eat, sleep and run around. Does my gerbil need a companion? Gerbils should... Read more »

Gerbils: feeding a healthy diet

In the wild, gerbils live partly on dry seeds, but these are emergency rations for when something more nutritious is not available. Gerbils need some animal protein in their diet, so they will eat insects; but also eat fresh vegetable material. What should I feed my gerbil? It is recommended to feed a good variety... Read more »

Gerbils: epilepsy

Gerbils can suffer from spontaneous epileptiform seizures (epilepsy). These seizures may be precipitated by sudden stress, handling or introduction to a novel environment. Incidence of this syndrome is about 20% in natural populations. Is epilepsy life-threatening? Epilepsy appears to be inherited, and both seizure-resistant and seizure-sensitive strains have been developed by selective breeding. Inbred animals... Read more »

Gerbils: behaviour

Gerbils make nice pets and are fascinating to watch. Gerbils are very social animals, and it is not a good idea to keep them singly. Pair bonded or family units of gerbils are usually quite affectionate with each other. Do gerbils need company? Gerbils love to play, chasing each other around, wrestling and boxing. They... Read more »

Gerbils: a history

Gerbils, i.e. Mongolian gerbils, are small rodents with long furry tails that have a tuft of fur at the end. They are larger than mice, but smaller than typical hamsters (syrian hamsters, not dwarf hamsters). The history The wild type coloration is "agouti", where each hair is banded, usually gray next to the skin, then... Read more »

Hamsters are small, virtually tailless, velvet-furred rodents with enormous cheek pouches. They originated in the Middle East and south eastern Europe. The most common and popular breeds, both as pets and laboratory animals, is the golden or Syrian hamster. Color and hair-type varieties of the golden hamster include cinnamon, cream, white, and "teddy bear" (the... Read more »

Gerbils: Tyzzer’s disease

Gerbils can suffer from a number of health problems, but Tyzzer's disease is a very serious infectious disease that affects the liver and is usually caught from mice. Good hygiene, the use of good quality bedding and burrowing material will help prevent this disease. What causes Tyzzer's disease? Tyzzer's disease is caused by the bacteria... Read more »

Gerbils: routine health care

We are all familiar with the phrase "A healthy pet is a happy pet" - but there is probably also something to be said for keeping your gerbil happy in order to maintain its health. If you know your pet you will probably quickly recognise the signs that suggest it is not well. What are... Read more »

Gerbils: parasitic diseases

Luckily gerbils generally don't suffer from parasitic diseases, especially if they are kept in a clean, dry, warm environment. However there are some that you should keep an eye out for, just in case. What parasitic diseases do gerbils suffer from? Although parasitic diseases are rare in gerbils, they can occur, however parasitism of the... Read more »

Gerbils: nasal dermatitis

Nasal dermatitis is also known as "sore nose", "facial eczema" and "facial dermatitis". Incidence of the disease is higher in weanlings than in adults, but is a fairly common condition seen in gerbils. What causes nasal dermatitis? Trauma, stress, hypersecretion/accumulation of Harderian gland secretions, and superficial bacterial infections, ie Staphylococcus spp, have all been associated... Read more »

Hamsters: a history

Hamsters are small, virtually tailless, velvet-furred rodents with enormous cheek pouches. They originated in the Middle East and south eastern Europe. The most common and popular breeds, both as pets and laboratory animals, is the golden or Syrian hamster. Color and hair-type varieties of the golden hamster include cinnamon, cream, white, and "teddy bear" (the... Read more »

Hamsters: feeding a healthy diet

You should ensure your hamster has access to good quality food and fresh, clean water at all times. The exact nutritional requirements of the hamster are not known, but in the wild they are 'omnivores' meaning that they eat both vegetarian food (plants, fruit, vegetables and seeds) and animal protein (usually insects). Unfortunately, most hamster... Read more »

Hamsters: dental problems

Hamsters' incisor (front, gnawing) teeth grow continuously throughout their life; as is true for all rodents. The incisors receive continuous wear as the uppers and lowers contact each other, preventing overgrowth. How does overgrowth of the incisors occur? Misalignment of either the upper or lower incisors because of previous injury, abscess formation or malnutrition may... Read more »

Hamsters: cancer

Cancer is very common in pet hamsters. The incidence increases with age, as is the case with most animals, and is higher among females than males because of the variety of cancers that involve the female reproductive tract. What tumours can hamsters suffer from? Tumours of hamsters may be benign or malignant and they are... Read more »

Hamsters: breeding

The sex of adult hamsters is easy to determine. Males have very large, prominent testicles. In fact, owners unaccustomed to seeing them are often astonished at these anatomic peculiarities. How can I breed my hamsters? Male golden hamsters can breed from 14 weeks old, and females can be bred when they reach 10 weeks old.... Read more »

Hamsters: bladder stones

Hamsters are susceptible to the formation of stones within the urinary tract. The bladder is the only location within the urinary tract in which stones would likely be detected on physical examination by your vet. How do I know if my hamster has bladder stones? Signs of bladder stones can sometimes be difficult to detect,... Read more »

Hamsters: antibiotic sensitivity

Hamsters as a group are unusually sensitive to the potentially lethal effects of certain antibiotics, whether they are given orally or by injection. Potentially harmful antibiotics include ampicillin, penicillin, erythromycin, lincomycin and streptomycin. Why are hamsters so sensitive to antibiotics? The major way in which certain antibiotics cause reactions is by altering the normal microbial... Read more »

Mice and rats: a history

Domestically raised mice and rats are popular pets these days; they are readily available, relatively inexpensive and easy to care for, and usually enjoy human handling. All about mice and rats These animals have been used extensively in research laboratories for many years. Consequently, their medical problems (many of which are inherited disorders resulting from... Read more »

Mice and rats: routine health care

We are all familiar with the phrase "A healthy pet is a happy pet" - but there is probably also something to be said for keeping your rodent happy in order to maintain its health. If you know your pet you will probably quickly recognise the signs that suggest it is not well. What are... Read more »

Mice and rats: parasitic diseases

Rodents are susceptible to skin disease which can be caused by numerous infectious agents, including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Cage mates may be responsible for hair loss and/or wounds to the skin. Do rodents suffer from external parasites? Pet mice and rats may be infested with a variety of external parasites. Mites, nearly microscopic,... Read more »

Mice and rats: miscellaneous health problems

Two medical conditions of mice and rats demanding special mention are their susceptibility to tumours and Tyzzer's disease. These are covered in separate factsheets. However, there are other medical conditions affecting mice and rats that are briefly covered here. Only purchase rodents from reputable sources, and never purchase an obviously or even suspiciously ill rodent.... Read more »

Mice and rats: how to handle

Domestic mice and rats generally tolerate gentle handling, though both may bite if startled or handled roughly. Mice are more likely to bite than rats under these circumstances. In fact, mice housed alone are more likely to be aggressive with a handler than those housed in groups. How should I handle my mice? It is... Read more »

Mice and rats: housing

Proper housing is a major factor in the maintenance of healthy mice and rats. The psychosocial well-being of the animals must be a primary consideration. Mice and rats can be housed within enclosures made of wire, stainless steel, durable plastic or glass. What sort of housing should I provide my pets? Stainless steel, durable plastic... Read more »

Mice and rats: feeding a healthy diet

The mice we keep as pets are the same species as the house mouse. They live alongside human beings nearly all over the world, eating what they can find. Rats are designed to eat plants, e.g. seeds, roots, nuts and fruit. The cheek teeth of the rat are more like our own than the teeth... Read more »

Mice and rats: a history

Domestically raised mice and rats are popular pets these days; they are readily available, relatively inexpensive and easy to care for, and usually enjoy human handling. All about mice and rats These animals have been used extensively in research laboratories for many years. Consequently, their medical problems (many of which are inherited disorders resulting from... Read more »