Tips for rodent, bird and reptile owners

In this section, we'll advise you on how to remove annoying cat hair from your home, how best to entertain your cat and we'll even give you a few tips on dealing with the litter box.

Rodent health

Teeth/activity
All rodents are characterized by their remarkably long incisors, which grow continuously. Consequently, they must have the opportunity to gnaw so that the incisors are worn down at the same rate as they grow. Many rodents, especially hamsters, are nocturnal, predominantly active at night. This factor must be taken into consideration when acquiring a rodent as a pet, as their quiet times often fall during the day. Rabbits, guinea pigs and chipmunks are usually active during the day.

Housing
When keeping these small pets, you should always make sure that the cage or hutch is big enough and equipped to suit the needs of the animal(s) in question. The need for exercise can be satisfied by introducing climbing options and obstacles. Hiding places are also important. Dust-free wood shavings or soft straw make ideal bedding for most rodents. The entire bedding should be replaced at least once a week and fresh drinking water should be provided on a daily basis. Some rodents such as guinea pigs and chinchillas should be kept as a pair or more. As they are quick to breed, it is recommended that males and females are kept separately or that the males be castrated.

Claws
Depending on how the cages or hutches are furnished, most rodents do not have the opportunity to wear down their claws, which means that they become very long and twisted. Claws should be checked regularly and carefully so that they can be trimmed, as required.


Keeping caged birds

Flying is the most natural and instinctive activity for birds. As cages offer very little opportunity for flying, there's much more to take into consideration than with other pets if you are to give them a happy life.

Birds should never be kept on their own as they only feel comfortable in groups. The cage should be big and wide – the bigger the better. It should be placed in a bright, peaceful location at eye level and away from drafty areas. The cage should be in a corner or against a wall and there should be no fluorescent tube lighting in the room. Birds should have water in which to bathe, real branches from unsprayed fruit or hazelnut trees on which to perch, swings, rings and rope made of cotton or hemp. Untreated pine perches are ideal for sleeping.

All birds should be allowed to fly freely at least once a day in a bird-proof room. This means that window panes must be concealed by curtains, any gaps between the walls and furniture should be covered, and all poisonous plants removed. Receptacles that birds could fall into should also be put away.


Keeping reptiles

Reptiles originate from different latitudes and therefore each require very different living environments. They are extremely sensitive pets and many species require a permit. Reptiles are cold-blooded animals and their body temperature is influenced by the ambient temperature. Depending on their habitat, they may go into hibernation. Wild reptiles steer away from human contact. Their housing needs are as different as their origins and lifestyles.

Most reptiles are to be observed and not carried around or petted. Almost all reptiles have specific living quarters and terrarium climate requirements.