Do chinchillas make good pets for young children? 0 263

DO chinchillas make good pets for young children?

If you are thinking about buying an unusual pet for your young children then chinchillas are a great option. These animals are a bundle of energy, fun to be with, and fairly easy to care for. Below we explore why chinchillas make excellent pets for children in the small family home.

Great qualities

Chinchillas have many wonderful qualities. As well as looking incredibly cute, they have beautiful soft hair, they are inquisitive, fairly quiet, and very boisterous. They will give your children lots to see and do, while being the perfect low maintenance pet.

General characteristics

These pets are fairly small and weigh on average only one and a half pounds. They can also live to ten years or more, so good news when you have little ones, as children do become attached to these pets. They are active, and need to be entertained, so this is great news for the kids, as these pets are fully interactive.

The importance of the environment

The environment in which the chinchillas live needs to be both safe and entertaining. The metal cage should not have any toxic paint, be large, airy and have plenty of equipment for them to run and explore. It also needs to be robust, as chinchillas do love to chew! Cardboard and straw are essential as they will play, hide, and build dens with them. A large wheel will also provide lots of additional fun.

Rules to follow

Chinchillas should not be allowed to run free in your home. This is because they will chew through anything, such as electrical wires. Then there is also the risk of them being exposed to household chemicals and toxins.

The cage will need to be cleaned every couple of weeks, and ideally with bicarbonate of soda to keep your chinchillas safe and well. It is also important that the cage is not placed in direct sunlight, as chinchillas cannot cope with extreme heat, preferring the cooler climate.

The diet

So, what do chinchillas actually eat? Well, you can actually buy chinchilla feed and then supplement it with alfalfa and spinach. Food is cheap and easy to supply, and it’s a good idea to also give them a mineral block and of course a good supply of fresh water.

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3 surprising behaviours of pet rats 0 311

Pet rat behaviour

Rats have been given a bad name by decades of bad press. Far from the dirty, disease-filled pests that are portrayed on our screens, these sociable, clean animals have a few surprising perks to owning them.

These sociable, friendly pets are highly trainable animals who show affection for their owners and have many cute little quirks that make them great companions. They also have a very strange way of showing they’re happy!

With that in mind, here are three surprising behaviours of pet rats.

1. They are incredibly playful animals

This one will be no surprise to those who will have seen the boxing, chasing and excited jumps with their own eyes, but many are unaware that rats spend lots of time playing with each other and their owners. One scientific study actually showed that rats giggle when they are tickled. It’s highly recommended that you fill your pet rat’s cage with lots of enrichment toys and interact with them daily. Many owners report that their pet rats love being chased or to wrestle their hands!

2. They are incredibly social animals and love to show affection

Rats are incredibly social creatures. While of course every animal has its own personality and there are exceptions to the rule, they need to live with at least one other rat and most enjoy lots of daily interaction with their owners. It is not a rare sight to see pet rats snuggled up in the laps, pockets and sleeves of their humans. They will also nibble and lick them, as they would other rats, in a show of affection.

3. They boggle their eyes when they are happy

Surprising when first witnessed, one of the most peculiar aspects of rats is the way they display their contentment. While cats purr and dogs wag their tails, when a rat is very happy or relaxed they will brux and boggle – which is a sort of teeth grinding and very fast bulging of the eyes.

Rats are brilliant pets for all ages and there are many positives that come from owning these friendly, misunderstood animals.

What can degus eat? 0 378

What can degus eat

When they’re living in the wild, degus focus on dietary fibre. It makes up about 60% of their diet, with the other 40% consisting of natural vegetation. But when they’re kept as pets, you’ll need to keep a close eye on what you feed your degu.

Good quality hay

For the most part, your degu’s diet should consist of good quality hay. There are lots of brands that will suffice, but two of particularly good quality are Timothy Hay and Meadow Hay. Keep an eye on the colour: if it’s pink or white, you should throw this hay away as it’s growing mould. If it’s green, it can cause bloating. Occasionally, you can mix some Alfalfa hay in with your regular hay. It’s high in protein, so great in small doses.

You can top up your degu’s bowl with a little bit of guinea pig or degu-specific food, but don’t go overboard. It’s important that your degu doesn’t start ignoring the hay because it’s got a range of health benefits, including the maintenance of a healthy gut and strong teeth. Around 10g of degu food a day should do the trick.

Human food in moderation

The good news is you can feed your degu some of your human food! Give them to your degu in moderation though, as they can cause gas and bloating. On rotation, you can feed them the following foods around once or twice a week:

• Asparagus
• Carrot tops
• Dandelion leaves
• Broccoli
• Cauliflower
• Fresh herbs
• Brussels sprouts
• Celery
• Cabbage
• Courgette
• Green beans
• Beetroot
• Dried herbs
• Pumpkin
• Butternut squash
• Marigold flowers
• Radish

Some sugary foods can be an occasional treat for your degu. In excess, they carry the risk of diabetes, so we’d only recommend doing this once a month.

• Apple
• Cherry tomatoes
• Peas
• Sweet potato
• Carrots
• Cucumber
• Sweetcorn or corn on the cob

When it’s treat time for your degu, give them a tiny amount (one or two) of:

• Sunflower seeds
• Peanuts
• Pumpkin seeds
• Whole nuts

As a general rule, the main thing to avoid giving your degu is fruit not listed here, rabbit food, hamster food or anything with molasses.

Just like us, degus love food – whether it’s good or bad for them. Bookmark this page to make sure you give your degu a balanced diet, and happy feeding!

Learn more about caring for your degu and other pet care advice here: http://www.nichepets.com/category/mammals/degus/