Mice, Rats, Gerbil’s and Hamsters. These little sweeties are often chosen as pets for the first time pet owner because they are relatively low maintenance and have gentle dispositions.
Commercial rodent pellets are available for Gerbils and Hamsters at pet stores. All four creatures have similar diets so if you have a rat, gerbil pellets are fine. For a more palatable diet, supplement the pellets with diced fruit and seeds, but don’t overdo it.
These little guys have habit of filling up on the yummy stuff and ignoring the pellets, and eating that way will not satisfy their daily nutritional needs.
As the popularity of keeping small animals increases, more and more cages designed for them are appearing in pet stores all over.
Small rodents are excellent escape artists. They can squeeze through the tiniest openings between standard cage bars if they are so inclined. Additionally, these cages usually have a slatted floor with a slide tray underneath designed for easier bedding changes. These slats (also escape routes) can be hard on the feet leading to foot problems and injuries. An all glass aquarium with a smooth floor will be more difficult to clean, but will be safer for your pet.
Line the cage with commercially available bedding or wood shavings and change bedding twice a week. For their amusement (and yours), furnish the aquarium with an exercise wheel. Avoid metal wheels with mice, rats and gerbils, as their long tails tend to get caught in the slats, which could lead to serious injuries. Plastic wheels are safer. (Hamsters do not have long tails so the metal wheels are okay for them if you so choose). Hide-a-way huts should be available, particularly for gerbils, as they need to have a quiet, dark place to sleep. There are a variety of connectable tunnels and tubes to make mazes for your pet’s enjoyment. These toys are fine, but are sure not to build them up too high in the aquarium that the animals will be able to climb on top of them and escape. They can easily chew through the screen cover if their hearts are set on making a break for it.
Mice & Rats: Stick with all females. Males together tend to fight. Males and Females together, will breed. Hamsters: Best to be kept on their own. They all have a propensity for fighting, but if you must, pair up males. The females of the species can be vicious towards each other. Gerbils: Happiest in pairs, they rarely fight. Any same sex pair is usually fine.