Hamsters, rats, mice and gerbils- General Information
Small rodents (hamsters, rats, mice, gerbils) are very popular pets. Compared to dogs and cats, they live a much shorter life (1-3 years depending upon the species). As with any pet, they do occasionally get sick, and their illnesses are often serious. Ideally, all pet rodents should be examined by a Vet. This "new pet" check is helpful to detect signs of disease and help new pet owners. It is the ideal time for new owners to get information on keeping their new pet.
Rodents are herbivores, eating plants only, and the digestive tract is, in some ways similar to that of other plant-eaters such as horses and cows.
Selecting your pet
Most owners will buy their pet rodents locally through a pet store. Avoid sick-looking animals. Remember that, with exotic pets, if it looks sick, it's really dying! Trying to nurse a sick pet rodent back to health after buying it will rarely work. Just the stress of the new environment and feeding is often enough to kill it. So, start out with a healthy pet.
The pet rodent should have no discharge from the eyes, nose, or mouth. If you can open the mouth (without being bitten!), make sure the front teeth have not overgrown (they should form a nice, even fit). The animal should seem lively and try to run and resist handling to some extent. No coughing or sneezing should be present. Examine the rectal area. It should be dry and free of diarrhoea. This is especially important for young hamsters; many baby hamsters at pet stores have a disease called "wet tail", which is usually fatal. Hopefully the sex can be correctly determined during your pet's first Vet visit but do not be too hard on the vet if this is difficult!
The first Vet visit
Within 2 days of buying your new pet, your pet should be examined by a Vet. The visit includes determining the animal's weight, as well as checking for lumps or bumps. The animal is examined for signs of general health. The veterinary surgeon can also attempt to determine the sex of your pet. If all turns out well, your pet will be given a clean bill of health. Like all pets, pet rodents should be examined every year.
Pet rodents do not require vaccinations.
Rats and Mice
Porphyrin from the glands around the eyes causes tears and nasal secretions to appear red. The mammary glands extend along the underneath of the animal from chin to back legs, and therefore breast cancer can appear as a lump ANYWHERE along this line. Young mice and rats are born hairless with their eyes closed.
Hip glands, which appear as a black dot on each hip, are present in males. They are used for scent marking and are not well developed in females. Hamsters have a cheek pouch on each side of the inside of the mouth. Food, and even baby hamsters, may be temporarily stored here! Hamsters are the most aggressive of all the small rodents. Hamsters can hibernate. A sleeping hamster should be awakened carefully! Because of this a hamster appearing dead may merely be in a deep state of torpor and should be warmed and awakened, not buried!
Since gerbils are desert animals, they drink very little water. Due to this low water intake, gerbils urinate small amounts.
Gerbils usually mate for life; they should be paired before sexual maturity.
Some gerbils may have very mild fits, especially when frightened. These usually don't need treatment.
For further information, please read articles on our website, speak to your Vet or ask our Vet at http://www.gaeludyr.is/spurou-dyralaekninn.html