Top 3 exotic pets for children 0 478

Pet Syrian Hamster

Children don’t always want a run of the mill pet and often like to be adventurous in choosing their new playmate. You might think that exotic pets won’t make a good match for your child, but we’ve pulled together a list of the top three types of unusual pet for children.

Syrian Hamster

Syrian Hamsters are a more unusual breed of your standard hamster.

They love being handled, which is great for kids – once you’ve shown them how to do this properly. You should only get one, or if you want one per child, be sure to house them in separate cages as they’re very territorial and will fight.

They live for about 2 years. Feed your hamster a good quality hamster food and supplement their diet with some fresh fruit and vegetables but avoid citrus fruits as they’re too acidic.

Learn more about hamsters at our sister-site thehamsterhouse.com.

Rat

Rats may not sound like a great pet for a child but they are friendly, active little creatures. They need to live together in pairs but get two of the same sex, otherwise you’ll have lots of baby rats too!

Rats love human company so are great for kids, and they’re pretty easy to look after. They just need a big enough indoor cage, and a nest box for sleeping, plus toys to keep them entertained when they’re on their own.

You can buy ready-made rat pet food at pet shops. They also like grains and vegetables and will need fresh water available.

Rats can live up to three years.

Chinchilla

A chinchilla can live up to 15 years so is a big commitment for a child’s pet. Chinchilla’s need to be kept indoors in a cage of about 1m x 1.5m. They also like to be in pairs. They’re nocturnal, so consider this when choosing for a child.

Chinchillas will need exercise outside their cage at least once a day because they’re really active creatures. Feed them Chinchilla pellets which you can buy in pet stores. This will give them a lot of the nutrients they’ll need but they also need a constant supply of hay to munch on. You can give them raisins and sultanas for a treat.

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5 things to consider before getting Pygmy goats 0 327

If you are considering getting a new pet then Pygmy goats are a great way to go. These fun-loving, friendly, easy to manage animals are perfect for anyone with a good sized garden looking for something different.

1. You need to have more than one

All goats are herd animals, so if you want to keep them you need to buy at least two. With herd mentality it would also be wise to buy two from the same herd at the same time, otherwise you are giving yourself a lot more work trying to acclimatise them to each other. If you don’t want to breed, you need to buy female goats or castrated males.

2. They do have some environmental needs

Though not demanding, Pygmy goats do have some needs. Their coats aren’t waterproof so they will need shelter. For two or three goats a normal garden shed measuring approximately 8 foot by 10 foot is enough, with a bench or two and some straw for a bed. They need good outdoor space and shouldn’t be tethered. Goats do tend to be adventurous so make sure the area is well fenced and definitely don’t have anything you don’t want to be ruined in the area! Be careful of any additional plants as well, there are a number of plants goats cannot eat, such as daffodils or tulips.

3. Their diet

About 80% of a goat’s diet needs to be dietary fibre, so hay is perfect. Beyond this, a couple of servings of goat mix a day will suffice. They can eat a few treats like chopped apples, but too many could cause stomach problems in at least one of their stomachs (goats have four!).

4. They need your company

Goats need to spend a lot of time with their owners, especially at the beginning, so make sure you have the time for them.

5. Watch them around children

Though every goat is different, their natures tend to be friendly, but not necessarily gentle in their playfulness, so beware of butting.

If you feel you have the space and time, you are guaranteed to have a lot of fun if you add Pygmy goats to your family.

Photo: Pygmy Goat by kimberlykv licensed under Creative commons 2

6 tips for feeding hedgehogs 0 280

How to feed hedgehogs

When looked after properly, hedgehogs can make great pets. But if you’ve decided to start feeding the hedgehogs in your garden, there are a few things you should know.

1. Commit to feeding hedgehogs

If you’re lucky enough to have hedgehogs in your garden, this isn’t a very common occurrence! They are sadly endangered, so it’s especially important that, if they get used to finding a food source in your garden, it doesn’t get cut off.

2. Get to know a hedgehog’s diet

In the wild, hedgehogs are insectivores. Over 70% of their natural diet will be insects and beetles, some worms and the occasional slug or snail. Brush up on your hedgehog facts, so you know what to feed them and what to avoid. Which brings us on to our next point…

3. Know what to avoid when feeding hedgehogs

It’s very important to avoid bread and milk. Hedgehogs cannot digest bread, and cow’s milk will give them very bad diarrhoea. This can even be a cause of death, so we can’t stress that one enough.

Salty foods like bacon and corned beef will also give them health issues, so stay away from those.

While raisins and sultanas are generally bad for hedgehogs on account of the sugar content, one or two that have dropped from a bird table won’t do any harm. Just don’t make a point to feed them sugary foods like this.

4. Put out the right hedgehog food

Hedgehogs love:

• Spike’s Dinner hedgehog food. You can serve either the tinned or dry versions, and will find them in large pet shops.
• Ark Wildlife Hedgehog food
• Wildthings Hedgehog food
• Tinned cat, dog, puppy or kitten food. If you choose the chicken flavour, you’ll be popular!
• Meat flavoured biscuits for cats and kittens. Cheaper brands tend to have a higher density of cereal and aren’t quite so nutritious.

5. Share your leftovers (but only some)

Leftover meat like chicken or mince will go down a treat with a garden hedgehog. Chop the meat into very small pieces, as their teeth are too small to tear big pieces.

You can also put down some grated cheese for them, but nothing fancy: just mild or medium cheddar.

6. Know the difference between a winter feed and a summer feed

If you’re feeding tinned meat to your hedgehog, it’ll freeze quickly on a winter’s night. Biscuits are better for wintertime, and when the sun comes out, you can go back to feeding them tinned foods.

Find out more about hedgehogs, including whether a hedgehog is the right pet for you.