A few things to consider before getting ferrets 0 20

Pet ferret

Ferrets make extremely cute, playful, loveable and unusual pets, but there are a few pieces of pet advice you should consider before making the decision to add them to your family:

1. They are playful

Ferrets are extremely playful, making them very good company. It also means that they need to be given a good amount of your time. They will need to be out of their cage for no less than four hours a day, and at least two hours of this time should be spent at play. For the remainder of this time you need to keep your eye on them, they can be extremely mischievous! It is also important to get at least two ferrets as they will need the company when you are not around.

2. They can be smelly

Unfortunately they do tend to have a strong smell, especially if they haven’t been unsexed. To keep this at bay make sure you clear out their cage often and bath your pet a few times a month. If you bath them too often you will dry out their skin.

3. They have a tendency to be destructive

Ferrets are known for their destructive tendencies. They may burrow into your sofa or attempt to scratch through your doors, so keep a good eye on them when they are outside of their cage.

4. They may bite

They nip for attention and use their mouths to play. If they get overexcited a playful bite can cause damage, and they will bite aggressively if they feel under attack. As with nearly any animal, with correct training this is a bad habit you can get under control.

5. They are trainable

This is important because it helps to rectify some of a ferret’s more challenging behaviours. Ferrets are very bright animals. Gently discipline them for bad behaviour and reward them for good and you will be able to keep destructive behaviour and biting to a minimum. Ferrets can also be taught tricks, so a good game of fetch won’t go amiss.

If you are looking for a playful pet, and have a good amount of time to entertain and train, then ferrets are a great choice for you!

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What can degus eat? 0 64

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/

Do chinchillas make good pets for young children? 0 60

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.