ARO sees a lot of unwanted caged pets ~ a desperate “fall out” from pet shops who care little for the over population crisis and continue to sell breeding pairs to unsuspecting customers. This generally ends up in either cage death or dumping of unwanted pets when it all becomes too much.
BEWARE OF BUYING TINY CAGES FOR YOUR PET HAMSTER
Mambo’s Plastics (Cape Town) have taken the lead in removing these tiny pet cages from their stores. This is in response to complaints received from the public. ARO have appealed to Checkers/ Shoprite to follow suit and we await their response. ARO appeals to people who wish to buy small pets in cages not to buy these novelty cages, but to rather purchase a much larger cage, more suitable for an animal to live in. Hamster cages should be around 45cm long x 30cm wide with at least 2 stories high. Hamsters need plenty of activity and space to move in, so make sure there is a wheel (the solid variety are best) and some toys of some form.
More information on hamster homes! http://northstarrescue.org/pet-care-information/pet-hamster-care/143-a-guide-to-pet-syrian-hamster-cages
More information on Guinea pigs: http://www.guinealynx.info/breeding.html
Please note: Guinea Pigs require A LOT of work and cost at least the same as 1 cat to feed. Guinea pigs are not quick and easy pets and can breed out of control producing litters of offspring from 1 month old onwards. Every Guinea Pig needs space to move around, but they love to nest & hide when they sleep. Do not keep them in small crammed cages, but provide a nesting place and at least 2m x 1m play/movement enclosure (similar to a baby’s playpen) in which the animal can move and socialise with his cage mates. If you find that you do not have time to keep guinea pigs clean and active, please consider handing them to someone who can care for them or to a rescue organisation willing to rehome them.
9 COMMON MYTHS ABOUT RABBITS & GUINEA PIG CARE
Myth 1: Rabbits are great, low-maintenance pets.
Reality: Although they don’t need to be walked like dogs, rabbits are anything but low-maintenance. Their quarters need daily leaning, and fresh food and water must be offered daily, including a salad of well-washed, dark-green leafy vegetables. Certain rabbit health problems can become chronic and can require regular (and sometimes expensive) veterinary treatment. To complicate the picture, veterinarians skilled in rabbit medicine are often hard to find.
Myth 2: Rabbits only live a year or two, so no long commitment is necessary
Reality: Well cared-for indoor rabbits can live 7-10 years, and some live into their teens. This is approximately the same life span as some breeds of dogs, and requires the same long-term commitment.
Myth 3: Rabbits do not need veterinary care the way dogs and cats do.
Reality: Although rabbits in the USA (& RSA) do not require annual vaccinations, nevertheless, regular veterinary checkups help to detect small problems before they become big ones. Companion rabbits should be spayed/neutered by veterinarians experienced in rabbit surgery. This not only reduces hormone-driven behaviors such as lunging, mounting, spraying, and boxing, but also protects females from the risk of uterine cancer, the incidence of which can exceed 50% as rabbits grow older.
Myth 4: Rabbits are happiest outdoors in a backyard hutch.
Reality: Rabbits kept outdoors in hutches are often forgotten and neglected once the novelty wears off. Far too frequently, they are relegated to a life of 'solitary confinement' and are subject to extremes of weather, as well as to diseases spread by fleas, ticks, flies, and mosquitoes all of which can adversely affect their health and their life span. They can die of heart attacks from the very approach of a predator – even if the rabbit is not attacked or bitten. Rabbits are gregarious creatures who enjoy social contact with their human care-takers. The easiest way to provide social stimulation for a companion rabbit is to house him indoors, as a member of the family.
Myth 5: Rabbits are rather dirty and have a strong odor.
Reality: Rabbits are immaculately clean, and, once they have matured and are spayed/neutered, they go to great lengths not to soil their living quarters. They will readily use a litter box and if the box is leaned or changed daily, there is no offensive odor.
Myth 6: Rabbits love to be picked up and cuddled and do not scratch or bite.
Reality: Although some rabbits tolerate handling quite well, many do not like to be picked up and carried. If rabbits are mishandled they will learn to nip to protect themselves. If they feel insecure when carried they may scratch to get down. Unspayed/unneutered rabbits often exhibit territorial behavior such as “boxing” or nipping when their territory is “invaded” by the owner.
Myth 7: Rabbits -especially dwarf breeds – do not scratch or bite.
Reality: Rabbits have powerful hind legs designed for running and jumping. They need living space that will permit them ample freedom of movement even when they are confined. Dwarf rabbits tend to be more active and energetic than some larger breeds, and require relatively more space.
Myth 8: Rabbits can be left alone for a day or two when owners travel.
Reality: Rabbits need daily monitoring. Problems that are relatively minor in some species (e.g. a day or two of anorexia) may be life-threatening in rabbits, and may require immediate veterinary attention.
Myth 9: Rabbits do fine with a bowl of rabbit food and some daily carrots.
Reality: The single most important component of a rabbit’s diet is grass hay, which should be provided, free-choice, daily. Rabbit pellets should be given only in very limited quantities.
Guinea Pigs should have access to plenty of greens, carrots and fresh veg (not citrus) as well as guinea pig pellets (from pet shops and supermarkets) and fresh water daily.
Guinea pigs make ideal pets for kids learning to care for and love animals, but parents must supervise the daily care and handling.
A proper cage with straw/lucerne bedding (they love to hide!) is required in a warm, dry but light area.
Guinea pigs love to be outside on a lawn to graze, so long as they have shade and a hiding place!
Cages need cleaning every few days, but guinea pigs make excellent compost for the garden!
For more information on caring for your caged pet, visit pethabitat.co.za
HOW MANY HAMSTERS SHOULD YOU KEEP TOGETHER?
When you first get a hamster, it is best to have just one in a cage at a time to prevent fighting and breeding. Adding more may be possible, depending on the breed & sex of hamster you have. It is best to get litter mates and raise them together. This will not eliminate fights and territorial squabbles, but it should help prevent serious injury or death. The best rule is to keep them alone and solitarily.
Syrian hamsters (also known as golden or teddy bear hamsters) are extremely territorial and should be kept in solitary housing conditions. They are not social at all and will sometimes fight to the death. At the very least, one will become very dominant and will not allow the other to eat and roam freely. If you are wondering how pet stores house so many Syrians together, it is because they are most likely litter mates and the population is constantly being sold and replenished. (Even so, fights do occur, but they usually happen at night when no one is around.)
Females are especially vicious towards males, and mating pairs should only be allowed to be in the same cage for a short time while the female is in heat. Once they have mated, remove the male and return him to his cage. Syrians become territorial at around 5 or 6 weeks of age and begin to fight. They should be separated at that time.
Dwarf hamsters are more social than the Syrians, but do not place hamsters of different species together because they will most likely fight to the death. If you have a mating pair, be sure to remove the male when they have a littler. He will not harm the pups and might even help the female with them, but dwarf hamsters can become pregnant very soon after having a littler, so it is best to keep them apart so the female does not have litters in quick succession. It is more practical to have a pair of same-sex hamsters than to have a male-female pair, unless you plan to breed them.
Dwarf hamsters tend to be more active if not housed alone. Solitary dwarf hamsters tend to be less playful and active and not as interesting as a pet so make sure this is what you really want before going to the expense of buying cages etc.
If you keep dwarf hamsters together they will fight, but this is not usually serious and is only done in order to establish a dominance hierarchy. You will hear a lot of squeaking and rolling around as they establish dominance and then it should be a bit quieter. If it goes on too long, separate them and keep them solitary.
Do not keep hamsters in small cages – choose a cage which has some space to it, with tubes and areas of interest for the animals to keep busy in.