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Wild Things :: All About Small Pets

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Cats and dogs may be two of the most popular pets around, but small animals like hamsters are considered to be some of the best pets for first-time pet owners.

Small Pets - Rabbits

The domestic rabbit comes from the Oryctotagus cuniculus species, and is a descendant of wild rabbits from western Europe and northern Africa. Rabbits are herbivores (plant-eating), have a high reproductive rate and are most active at dawn and dusk. When threatened, rabbits won't stand their ground, but will use their lightning speed to run away from harm. This unaggressive behavior makes them popular pets. If you're a rabbit owner, you may have noticed that rabbits will eat their own poop directly from the anus. To help avoid this behavior, you should make rabbit pellet food available for your pet 24 hours a day (keep a small dish in the cage full at all times). These pellets are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals and is the best way for them to obtain these nutrients. You should also feed your bunny lots of fresh veggies like carrots, lettuce and broccoli stems.

Small Pets - Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs originated from South America and have been domesticated for thousands of years. In fact, some South Americans even eat them, as the roasted guinea pig is considered a typical dish in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador! Guinea pigs differ mainly by their fur. Short-haired guinea pigs include the American Crested, Himalayan and Abyssinian. Long-haired guinea pigs include the Sheltie and Merino. In the wild, guinea pigs are prey to many animals, which is probably how the phrase "to be a human guinea pig" (to be the victim of an experiment) originated. Legends hold that guinea pigs can help heal the sick and dying. We're not sure if they can do that, but we do know that they're gentle, loving animals that make great first pets - especially for kids! You'll want to keep in mind that guinea pigs are herbivores that need lots of vitamin C, so don't forget to feed them lots of leafy green vegetables.

Small Pets - Hamsters

Hamsters belong to the rodent family, and are the most popular of the smaller rodents to be kept as pets. The word "hamster" comes from the German word "hamstern," which means to hoard, as hamsters have expandable cheek pouches where they carry food. Hamsters also have large incisor teeth that are continually growing, so they gnaw on things to prevent them from overgrowing. There are many species of hamsters, but only five are kept as pets:

  • Syrian Hamster (commonly known as the Standard Hamster
  • Dwarf Campbells Russian Hamster
  • Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamster
  • Chinese Hamster
  • Roborovski Hamster

 

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