Archive for the 'Small Animal Stuff' Category
Rabbits are an ever popular pet, especially with parents. Here’s some ideas for rabbit products, with a special section for newer owners at the end (and some useful websites for care information).
VERY IMPORTANT: This article is for general educational purposes only – NO information here can ever be used a substitute for professional vetinary advice! PLEASE ASK YOUR VET FOR ABOUT YOUR RABBIT’S HEALTHCARE AND LIVING NEEDS. We therefore respectfully advise we are unable to answer any questions on animal care.
Within the rabbit’s home, you can place mini rabbit ‘houses’ made of wood or plastic, to give them somewhere that feels secure to sleep in. Take care to make sure it’s big enough – many products are sold for ‘small animals’ – with rabbits, obviously at the larger end of the scale.
Anti flystrike products
Flystrike is a horrible condition where summer time flies lay eggs around the rabbits bottom, which hatch in hours into maggots. The maggots then feed by literally eating into the skin on the poor rabbit and release disease causing toxins. Flystrike is a particular problem for rabbits which needs immediate vetinary attention, as afflicted rabbits can become very ill and even die.
Disinfectant cleaning sprays: Specially designed rabbit-safe sprays are available for when you’re doing the weekly hutch/house cleaning. These aim to prevent bacterial & viral infections and for rabbits, check they also guard against flystrike.
Fly repellants : Hang a fly strip near the hutch and use a pet-safe fly repellent spray. Ask your vet to recommend one of the anti flystrike products for the rabbit – there are natural oil products, and chemical based products which claim to protect the rabbits bottom area against the flies.
You can now buy many toys – aim to keep your rabbit’s mind stimulated and his teeth in good shape. There are tiny rabbit ‘tents’, connecting tunnels, and bunny beds a little bit like mini-hooded-dog beds for them to play in. Lots of toys feature chewing, which is good for the rabbit, as they need to gnaw down their teeth to avoid severe dental problems. Some gnawing toys have spaces you can hide tasty rabbit treats in, again to keep them mentally stimulated. Tunnels made of plastic or wood ‘logs’ can also help with boredom and give them somewhere to behave more naturally in. Check the wood ones are suitable for chewing, as this potential double feature is too good to miss if you’re going to spend all that money on the first place.
Thinking about getting a rabbit or just got one? Essential starter items
If you’re thinking about getting a rabbit, there are some great fact sheets on keeping rabbits that we really advise you check out:-
The UK’s RSPCA on rabbit care at http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RSPCA/RSPCARedirect&pg=RabbitsPetCare
The USA’s ASPCA on rabbit care at:
Basic items that need to be organised for rabbit care include:
- A good vet for vaccinations, neutering, advice and all healthcare needs
- A carrier for trips to the vet, moving home, etc.
- A nice, BIG weatherproof home off the ground, out of direct sunlight – and it should be indoors, according to the ASPCA. Make sure it’s BIG – rabbits require space and beware of smaller houses or hutches sold in some pets stores. It’s probably going to be costly, but hey, that’s rabbits for you!
- Each bunny needs a separate sleeping space
- Clean wood shavings on the floor
- Soft, special hay sold for small animal hay (so it doesn’t poke delicate eyes or otherwise hurt the rabbit)
- A drip-feed water bottle or metal or ceramic water bowl – they need to be able to drink fresh clean water anytime
- Some where grassy and enclosed to run every day (a ‘rabbit run’). We’re talking metres here, not a square foot or so that they will fit into – they really need to be able to exercise. Sink it into the ground, as they will burrow their way out otherwise! Needs to also be safe from other animals or birds getting in to eat the rabbit.
- Daily food – see factsheets for suitable foods
- A ‘gnawing block’ for healthy teeth – this one you can’t skip, their teeth carry own growing otherwise
- A digging box to encourage natural behaviour
- A purpose designed rabbit brush fore long haired rabbits, to brush them daily
- ‘Helpers’ for you – to look after the rabbit if you are on holiday or can’t take care of him or her for any other reason
- Humans or other rabbits to be with every day – they are not solitary animals and need company
The RSPCA also rehomes small animals to suitable homes, having given them vetinary checks to ensure they’re happy and healthy – a good way to welcome a furry friend to your home.
Posted by Norma & Joe De Bloom
Top rabbit (named Snuffle) http://www.sxc.hu/profile/marnixbras Fly http://www.sxc.hu/profile/juliajorn
Hamsters are wonderful little creatures – all wobbling whiskers and cute little eyes! Here’s some ideas for hamster products, with a special section at the end about the more essential items (and some websites to go to for general advice on caring for hamsters).
VERY IMPORTANT: This article is for general educational purposes only – NO information here can ever be used a substitute for professional vetinary advice! PLEASE ASK YOUR VET FOR ABOUT YOUR HAMSTER’S HEALTHCARE AND LIVING NEEDS. We therefore respectfully advise we are unable to answer any questions on animal care.
Beds & Nests
Hamsters have instincts to burrow, chew and hide away from sight – yes, you guessed it, you can now buy them specially designed little hamster ‘nests’. These aim to allow them to fulfil their instincts and feel secure. (A side effect is even more instant super-cuteness as well). There are also little hamster ‘houses’, in wood or plastic designs for them to hide away in. They like to sleep where no-one can see them, usually burrowing so they will need suitable material inside the nests/ ‘houses’ (see ‘new owners’ below).
There’ also mini-sleeping-bag type beds, which they can snuggle into – not so much on the chewing front but a tick for the hiding urge.
There are toys you can buy which could be beneficial for both their teeth and to stop them getting bored. Mental stimulation is important! Toys can give them something safe to chew on, and if they feature ‘hidden’ (hamster safe) foods inside, they can be kept occupied as they try to prize it out. There are special hamster friendly toys and a scaled down version of a dog-toy design for small animals, made of rubber, which again you stuff with tasty hamster snacks.
As mentioned below in the ‘new owners’ section, exercise is important. You can buy wheels, but they should be solid not open runged to stop little feet and tails getting caught. There are also plastic tunnel designs which attach to hamster homes to provide exercise and mental stimulation.
There are plenty of hamster treats products to supplement their diet in addition to their regular hamster mix food. (Only buy products designed for hamsters – all small animals need specialist feeding and products aren’t always ‘interchangeable’ between species).
Thinking of getting a hamster or just got one? Basic products/ services
The information here echoes the UK’s RSPCA and USA’s ASPCA tips on some of the things new hamster owners need to organise for their pet. The RSPCA also rehomes small animals to suitable homes, having given them vetinary checks to ensure they’re happy and healthy – a good way to welcome a furry friend to your home.
- A good vet – for all advice and healthcare needs
- A large home, indoors in a warm place, not in direct sunlight – somewhere quiet in the daytime (they’re more night animals and need to sleep in the day)
- A drip-feed bottle for water – they always need to able to drink clean, fresh water
- A nesting box in their home – they need to burrow so they can’t be seen, and they need to sleep there and stash food away there (natural behaviour)
- Clean sawdust on the floor of their home
- Soft hay sold especially for small animals (so it won’t poke delicate eyes or otherwise hurt them)
- Clean white kitchen paper so they can make their bed with it – not cotton wool, not newspaper
- An exercise wheel – but not with open rungs, should be solid – which is securely fixed to the inside wall of their home
- Toys for stimulation – cardboard tubes, wooden cotton reels
- A ‘gnawing block’ made of hardwood to help keep their teeth healthy
- Daily food and home tidying, full cleaning once a week
- A special brush designed for hamsters – to brush them daily (especially important for longhaired hamsters)
- ‘Helpers’ for you – someone to take care of the hamster if you are on holiday or unable to do so for any reason
Posted by Joe De Bloom
Hamster close-up http://www.sxc.hu/profile/red2000
Useful facts sheets
The UK’s RSPCA has hamster care fact sheets at
They also rehome small animals to suitable homes in the UK.
The USA’s ASPCA has hamster care fact sheets at
For all you guinea pig fans out there, here is a quick round up of some of the newer products on the market. For people who are thinking of getting a guinea pig, or are new owners, there is a section at the bottom of the page just for you with some essential product ideas.
VERY IMPORTANT: This article is for general educational purposes only – NO information here can ever be used a substitute for professional vetinary advice! PLEASE ASK YOUR VET FOR ABOUT YOUR GUINEA PIG’S HEALTHCARE AND LIVING NEEDS. We therefore respectfully advise we are unable to answer any questions on animal care.
Guinea Pig Carriers
Range from the plain cardboard variety at the lower end of the budget range, up to fancy specialist carriers in funky fabric and foam or plastic. Use them to take your pet to the vets or when moving house, etc.
Toys & Stimulation
You can now buy toys which you stuff with special guinea pig treats & suitable foodstuffs, which makes the guinea pig work his or her ingenuity to get the food out. This may help prevent boredom. Many other toy designs feature ‘gnawing’ or ‘chewing’, as this is natural behaviour. Your vet or guniea pig rescue organisations have tips on which products are ok to give your guinea pig. There are ‘warren runs’ you can use outdoors to allow them to hop about in the fresh air and enjoy a simulation of a natural burrow. Secure safe space to run in daily is an absolute must. One product to avoid are ‘exercise balls’ and ‘exercise wheels’ – these are not safe for guinea pigs. See Useful Resources for expert opinions.
In addition to regular guinea pig food mixes, treats can provide a nice variety to prevent boredom.! (Only buy food products designed for guinea pigs – all small animals need specialist feeding and products aren’t always ‘interchangeable’ between species).
Hutch cleaning sprays
Come in various guises, with disinfectant properties but must be safe for the animals. Some are available in ‘natural’ product ranges too.
Beds & ‘nests’
Days were when guinea pigs had some nice fluffy type bedding to snooze in and that was that. These days, you can buy guinea pig ‘nests’: round balls with a small hole in so your guinea pig can be cosy inside the ‘nest’. Small animals have instincts to hide and, well, nest (that’s why they do all that chewing) and these could well help them fulfil those instincts. Guinea pigs also have an array of little ‘houses’ you can buy for them to hide and snuggle in, in natural wood or plastic designs. We have to admit these all look extremely cute. Check nothing could hurt your pet – for example, make sure they can’t chew something that would then create a sharp bit that could injure their eyes or skin.
For those thinking of getting a guinea pig or newer owners:
The following advice echoes some of the tips of animal charities on guinea pig care. This can help you know what you must organise for you new pet: what basics guinea pigs need to keep them happy and healthy. If you are looking for guinea pig, see the Useful Resources section for organisations worldwide that rehome rescued guinea pigs: plenty worldwide need a loving home.
- A good vet who knows their guinea pigs – for neutering if there’s a male and female living together, taking care of nails and teeth; advice and of course treating any illness / injury. Check they are familiar with working with guinea pigs as some vetinary medications are unsuitable for them.
- A drip-feed water bottle – they need to always be able to have a drink of fresh water
- A spacious cage to live in – they will probably choose one side for sleeping in and one side for everything else. Put the hutch off the ground, (e.g. – on a table) so they feel secure. The ASPCA suggests a minimum of four square feet of hutch space per guinea pig but ideally more – other guinea pig experts state at least 7.5 square feet is needed for one guinea pig and that they need to live indoors only (1,2)
- Places for them hide in the hutch and toys – things to hide in and play with for mental stimulation
- Fresh bedding daily
- Timothy Hay – but see Useful Resources for which hay to give pregnant moms and their young babies (Cavy Spirit’s home page has information)
- A large “secure enclosure” to run around in every day – they 100% must excercise outside the cage to prevent health problems
- A ‘gnawing block’ to help keep teeth healthy
- Food twice daily (see Useful Resources for advice on what to feed)
- Company – they like other guinea pigs and may be unhappy on their own
We would also suggest pet healthcare insurance if you can get it to cover this small pet, to help you afford vets bills – these can be expensive (and have an uncanny ability to arrive when you “least want them”! ).
Posted by Norma De Bloom
Guinea pig close-up http://www.sxc.hu/profile/therysma
Useful facts sheets
1. Guinea Lynx - has a lot of specific information and facts sheets at
2. Cavy Spirit guinea pig rescue organisation has information at two sites, including info on runs, housing, toys and health:
The UK’s RSPCA has fact sheets on caring for guinea pigs at
The USA’s ASPCA has fact sheets at
Resources for adoption of rescued guinea pigs- please think carefully about caring properly for one beforehand:
Canada Rescue and Adoption
(USA) Cavy Spirit Guinea Pig rescue
(UK) Guinea Pig Rehome
(UK) Guinea Pig Rescue
Humane Society of Canada
Spain’s Animal Adoption Network
(France) Sauver Proteger Aimer – Refuges Animaux
(Elsewhere) World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)