Exotics & Pocket Pets

Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs make great pets for children as they are quiet, clean and relatively docile to handle.

Housing - There are a wide range of housing designs available for guinea pigs. As social animals, it is best to keep guinea pigs housed in small groups.   Ensure guinea pigs are housed in a quiet area where they are protected from extremes of the environment.

Feeding - Commercial pellet feed should form the basis of a guinea pig diet as it includes adequate amounts of all the nutrients which they require.   This diet can be supplemented with hay and green food.   In particular, guinea pigs cannot make their own vitamin C.   Low amounts of vitamin C in their diet can be a major problem for guinea pigs and results in sore limbs and loss of condition.

Skin problems - These can be caused by anything from mites and lice to bullying from other guinea pigs. It is important if your guinea pig shows signs of fur loss or itching to take it into your local vet for treatment.

Teeth - Guinea pig teeth keep growing throughout their life.  This means that once a small problem occurs with their teeth it will often result in a bigger problem later on.  If your guinea pig shows any signs such as loss of appetite or salivation it is important to get their mouth looked at to make sure there are no hidden problems.

Kathy, the principal vet at Nanango Country Veterinary Services sees a number of guinea pigs in the area and is available to help new or long-standing owners with any husbandry advice or health problems.

Rats and Mice

Housing - When housing rats and mice it should be remembered that they like to chew through wooden or plastic containers so that metal or glass cages may be preferred.  Additions to their environment such as wheels, ladders, tubes or climbing frames encourage exercise and prevent boredom.

Feeding - Rats and mice ideally should be fed a commercial complete ration as their basic diet with occasional supplementation of small amounts of foods such as biscuit, apples, tomatoes and dog biscuits.

Respiratory disease - This is one of the most common diseases of rats and mice.   Many different agents can be the cause of these problems but it is often exacerbated by environmental stressors such as poor husbandry, overcrowding or dirty cages.  Clinical signs of respiratory disease in rats and mice include: difficulty breathing, weight loss, nasal discharge, abnormal respiratory sounds and the adoption of a hunched up posture.   It is very important to see your local vet if your rat or mouse shows any of these clinical signs.

Learn more about Guinea Pigs

Learn more about Rats and Mice