‘Pocket’ pets such as hamsters, rabbits and chinchillas are often a choice for owners who are looking for a cheaper and lower-maintenance animal for their households. However, it is a grave misconception that these little critters require less concern than dogs and cats.
Rabbits & Chinchillas
Amateur owners will often be too quick to associate a rabbit or chinchilla’s diet with carrots and vegetables alone. The truth is, fresh fruit and vegetables only constitute up to 20 percent of their diets. Some healthy examples are broccoli, celery and apples. Also, take care to wash your produce thoroughly, as the residual pesticides and chemicals can be harmful to your pet. Hay and dried grasses should remain as an essential part of their meals.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are more acceptable for guinea pigs as opposed to rabbits, due to the former’s stronger digestive system. Some examples of a guinea pig’s favourite treats include seedless grapes, banana skins and carrots. However, vegetables should still remain the bulk of their diet, while fruit can be offered occasionally as a treat. Guinea pigs also require a high diet of Vitamin C fed from supplements, and not citrus fruits, as they cannot stomach the high acid content.
A hamster’s diet differs from one species to another, so owners should do their research and feed their hamster depending on which species it belongs to. Most hamsters in general live on a diet of nuts, seeds and oats. A hard treat such as cracker bits can also help to maintain the hamster’s dental health.
Although it remains true that these smaller pets are less costly than owning a dog or cat, it is just as important to care for and maintain the health of these critters as they, too, are living beings in their own right. This means that owners should do adequate research on the various health and physical needs of their pet-to-be, before deciding on whether they can take up the responsibility of owning it.