Small pets such as hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, mice, and rats are intelligent, curious and easy for a child to care for when properly taught. With proper care they can provide several years of
companionship for the child. They are lively and fun to watch but remember when handling they can be quick movers and get lost in a moment.
You can find many books and pamphlets with information on how to care for the small animal pet. You will need a cage or proper habitat for confinement and room to play and located away from drafts or dampness. The cage should not be exposed to direct sunlight since small animals do not tolerate high temperatures.
Provide the right material for nesting and burrowing. Shavings that are free of additives, chemicals, preservatives and dust as small animals have sensitive lungs which predisposes them to respiratory infections. Cedar shavings have a natural oil that repels unwanted pests. Clean shavings at least every two days and be sure to remove all soiled shavings and waste products. Clean the cage pan thoroughly once a week and throw out all shavings and put in new.
The pet may contaminate it’s water by flinging his bedding while burrowing or digging. Using a water bottle attached to side of cage is recommended. Provide fresh water daily. Small animals usually eat the same type of food but have different nutritional needs. Check with your Veterinarian to ensure your pet is getting the needed vitamins and minerals. Small pets tend to hoard their vegetables so be sure to remove uneaten veggies which could spoil if left hidden away.
Give your pet time to adjust to you and the new surroundings before handling it. Never pickup a rabbit by the ears or gerbils, hamsters, and mice by the tail. Educate the child on proper ways to handle the small pet and make sure they understand the importance of taking care of their new pet.
Again you can find many books on how to care for your pet or check with your Veterinarian on proper care of the pet.
Some small animals live well in groups while others do better being alone. Check a professional on how your pet should be housed. Don’t put males and females together otherwise you will end up with many more pets. Rabbits and guinea pigs can be bathed in a mild baby shampoo. After a shampoo pets should be dried as quickly as possible so it doesn’t get chilled. Soft brushes such as those made for cats can be used on the small animal pet. Be sure to check your pet on a regular basis for fleas, mites, and ticks.