Just like dogs and cats, hamsters, guinea pigs and birds can become well-loved members of our families. If you like to cuddle with pets of the itty-bitty variety, you may find you require a special place for them to call home, as well as customized toys and accessories to keep them happy. Read on to find out how you can keep your littlest friends safe, healthy and happy.
What kind of guinea pig and hamster cages are recommended?
Choosing a guinea pig or hamster cage isn’t as easy as simply grabbing the first one you see off the shelf. To keep your miniature ball of fur in good health, you’ll want one that’s just the right size, secure and easy to clean.
• Ease of cleaning: Wire cages with plastic bottoms tend to be easiest to clean since you just need to pop the top off, empty out old bedding, wipe surfaces down and then add a fresh layer of bedding.
• Ventilation and temperature: Wire cages also offer the best ventilation, which is important when it comes to keeping your pet’s air quality at optimal levels. However, wire cages will not block any chilly drafts like their plastic counterparts, so make sure your wire cage is kept in an area where drafts can’t reach it. It’s even recommended that your guinea pig be in an area where the temperature is between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Size: Hamsters should have a cage that’s at least 24 inches long by 12 inches wide, whereas guinea pigs require a cage that measures approximately 30 by 36 inches. A general rule of thumb is bigger is always better!
• Bar styles and sizes: Wire cages should feature vertical bars that are no more than a ½ inch apart. If yours has horizontal bars or platforms for climbing, make sure your pet won’t injure itself by falling a long distance.
• Toys: A hamster ball or wheel is a must have. Just make sure it’s large enough to safely accommodate your pet, and that it features a solid surface with no cross bars that could catch their tiny feet or limbs.
Should I buy a rabbit hutch for my new bunny?
Your pet rabbit can be kept indoors or outside as long as they have a rabbit hutch or cage that offers safety and comfort. While many rabbit hutches and cages are compact and feature wire floors, these features won’t create a comfortable sanctuary for your bunny. Instead, look for the following qualities:
• Size: Your rabbit hutch or cage should be at least 4 times the size of your bunny, or 24 by 36 inches for smaller breeds and 30 by 36 inches for larger ones. In general, bigger is always better.
• Solid floors: Look for a design with a solid floor. Your bunny can easily be litter trained, so cleaning out their hutch or cage shouldn’t be an issue. Designs with wire floors can be uncomfortable for your rabbit and even cause sores on their feet. If you do end up choosing a style with a wire floor, cover it with a mat made from natural materials like sisal or grass. A piece of wood will work, too.
• Doors and accessibility: A hutch or cage with a door on the side will make it easier for you to reach in and pick up your bunny. Make sure the opening is free from any rough edges or wires that may poke and scratch.
• Outdoor hutch locations: If your bunny will be living outdoors, make sure you spend extra time with her. Being outside can lead to loneliness, plus your bunny may face other dangers that aren’t present indoors. Be sure her outdoor hutch is away from any poisonous plants and pesticides, and that predators won’t be able to get inside. It’s recommended that if your bunny has to stay outside overnight that their hutch is kept inside your garage, shed or other enclosed shelter for added protection.
Should I buy a birdcage or a bird aviary?
One of the first things you’ll learn as a new bird owner is that your bird’s cage greatly affects his health and well-being. However, with so many styles available it can be difficult to choose one that’s appropriate for your bird’s species, size and even personality. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right birdcage for your pet:
• Aviaries: A bird aviary is perfect for species that love to fly. You can find them in wide or tall styles, so be sure to research whether your bird enjoys soaring at great heights or flitting from side to side.
• Other styles: Your birdcage may come in one of three styles: dometop, playtop or classic. Dometop styles add extra space for active birds, while playtop designs feature a detachable top that allows you to move your bird to a new location for a change of scenery. The classic style is boxy and tends to be the most affordable option that will suit most any type of bird.
• Size: After you’ve identified what type of bird you’d like to bring home, find out how large they can grow, then look for cages that can safely accommodate their full-grown size. Make sure the spacing between the bars is narrow enough to prevent their escape — your bird shouldn’t be able to fit their head between the bars. As always, bigger is better, so if you’re unsure of the correct size, aim for a larger, more spacious birdcage.
• Tamper-proof latch: Birds can be masters of escape, so make sure the latch on your birdcage is strong and well made.
• Doors and accessibility: Make sure the doors you use to access your bird and the inside of his cage are large enough for you to reach your entire arm through. A larger door will also help your bird be more willing to go in and out of his cage.
• Litter tray and seed guards: Look for a slide-out litter tray and built-in seed guards. The litter tray will make it easy for you to freshen up your bird’s cage, while the seed guards will keep cracked seeds and other waste from scattering across your floor and furniture.
• Toys: Make sure you include lots of fun and interactive toys for your birds inside their cage. This will help them exercise and keep boredom at bay, plus it can be fun to watch them play.
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