Pocket Pets: Hamsters, Gerbils, Guinea Pigs
Caring For Hamsters, Gerbils, and Guinea Pigs
Hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs make sweet pocket pets, particularly for children.
Hamsters and gerbils need minimal care. Hamsters are nocturnal, are active at night and may bite when they are woken up. They have poor eyesight, which causes them to get scared easily. Gerbils take plenty of naps during the day and night, rarely bite, and are sociable. They need to live with another gerbil. One of the most common diseases in gerbils is epilepsy, with episodes ranging from a mild hypnotic state to shaking and jerking of the whole body. Often, these seizures are preceded by stressful events. These seizures are traditionally not life-threatening and last less than a minute, but if you have any concerns please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Gerbils do tend to hide their illnesses.
Guinea pigs require more attention as they need to be groomed (some breeds have long hair) and engage in regular exercise. These domestic rodents nap during the day and night, need to live with another guinea pig and communicate their needs with different noises.
Teeth, which grow continuously in gerbils, guinea pigs, and hamsters, often require trimming. We can also recommend appropriate chew toys, which may help keep the teeth worn down. Parasites such as lice, mites, and fleas can infest your pet. In addition, these companion animals can suffer from other health issues.
Call us if your pet stops eating, loses weight, appears quieter than normal, has discharge from the eyes or nose, or develops a lump on its body.