Small animals are adorable, but they also require special care and attention. An animal’s size alone makes it more vulnerable to mishandling and accidents. Sometimes their natural impulses are the culprit, so it’s important to learn about their tendencies. Watching out for common but potentially fatal mistakes owners make with their small animals will help you avoid them, ensuring a happy, safe environment for your pet.
Guinea pigs and hamsters are dainty, requiring special handling when holding them. To hold them safely, they need to be supported by their stomach and feet to prevent injuries. Also, they should first be lifted and then held on an open palm. Children, especially, must be taught how to properly them and be supervised while playing with the little furry ones. It’s common for children to pick guinea pigs up by their head or ears or chase them around the cage. In the best scenario, it is stressful, making them squirm, wriggle, and possibly bite. At worse, mishandling can break their bones or suffocate them.
Not only is proper handling important when it comes to small ones, but adequate supervision is also crucial to the safety of both children and animals. It only takes a split second for a child to try experiments with a cute little animal, drop them, or otherwise provoke them. This doesn’t mean children are purposefully trying to hurt them. Children will likely get very upset and confused if they accidentally harm their pet. Yet they may easily kill a guinea pig, hamster, or rodent by handling them roughly, feeding them the wrong thing, or mistreating them by accident. There is also the risk, of course, that the child will get hurt. So many things could go wrong that you wouldn’t want to leave it to chance. Even when an animal is familiar with the child, supervising their play is always a good idea.
Hamsters and guinea pigs need a cozy, well ventilated, warm environment that falls between 65 and 75 degrees. A cold environment can be deadly to hamsters, as it can cause dehydration and hibernation.
All animals have their dietary requirements and making sure they get their needs met is crucial to their health and longevity. Guinea pigs require plenty of vitamin C from actual food sources, not vitamins or supplements. Apple seeds, almonds, citrus fruits, and rhubarb leaves, as well as many other kinds of foliage, are detrimental to the health of your hamster. Knowing your pet’s specific dietary requirements, and being aware of foods that are toxic to them, ensures that you will not poison them inadvertently.
Overall, the most vital element of animal care is knowledge about the little one you have brought into your home. Every animal is different and comes with their own natural requirements, needs, and potentially deadly pitfalls. The more you know about your guinea pig, hamster, or rodent, the better prepared you will be for avoiding common mistakes that could endanger their life.
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