Hamsters and guinea pigs aren’t uncommon pets: after all, they’re all fluffy and adorable little creatures! However, there are also many things to consider and get before you can even think of bringing home a new fluffy pal. To make sure you’re ready for a new fluffy pal in your life, here are some things to take note of and prepare to help you and your fluffy friend settle comfortably into your new routine:
Items you’ll need
Even before you bring your new pet home, you’ll have to get their place ready for them. Here are some of the essential items you should get:
- A cage (Large enough for your pet’s species and escape-proof)
- Bedding and nesting
- A food bowl
- A water bottle
- Food (Hamster mix or Guinea pig pellet as well as fresh vegetables and fruit)
- Hay for guinea pigs
Though this may seem little at first, keep in mind that your pet is also a living, breathing creature that might need more things as time goes by, such as a variety in diet or a bigger cage. You’ll have to keep an eye on your furry pal and see if their growing needs are met and change up your routine accordingly!
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Getting your pet
Regarding hamsters, their different species have their own behaviours and characteristics. It’s important to know which hamsters are the best for your home and lifestyle so as to not endanger them.
For example, Syrian hamsters are social with humans, but they should not be placed with another hamster as they’re territorial and will fight violently. Dwarf hamsters can be rather territorial too, but they are okay to be paired with littermates or their parent/child. Housing your hamsters separately is thus the best option for some of the more territorial creatures!
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However, the opposite can be said for guinea pigs. They enjoy being with other guinea pigs very much and have no qualms with living with them! Be sure that only guinea pigs of the same gender are kept together to reduce reproduction risk, but having them live in separate cages is perfectly fine. The best way to ensure that your guinea pigs will get along is to have them be together since young, so as to get used to each other’s presence!
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Bringing them to their home
When you’re bringing your pet back home, be sure to fill their carrier with bedding and food to make them comfortable. Carrying water is also good, so as to ensure that your new friend is well hydrated!
Your travel should be as smooth and quick as possible, so as to not startle your fur friend. Once you’ve reached home, place the carrier in the cage and allow them to come out at their own time. They’ll explore and get used to their new home for the next few days, so be sure to not carry them out before then.
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Both hamsters and guinea pigs’ diets are pretty similar. In general, they should consist of:
- Hamster mix or guinea pig pellet
- Green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits
- Hay for guinea pigs
For guinea pigs, a daily supply of Vitamin C is essential as they cannot store or make their own, so be sure to feed them food that is high in Vitamin C content such as citrus fruits and kiwis.
Make sure there’s a constant supply of fresh water for your fluffy friend too!
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Maintaining their home
Just like regular house grooming, your pet’s home needs a good cleaning once in a while too! You should be cleaning their cage once a week, or once every two weeks at least.
The cage for your hamster or guinea pig should be large enough for them to move about freely and not be constrained by the walls or cage lid. If you have two guinea pigs, the space should be doubled. When cleaning it out, place your pet in a separate, secure cage beforehand and throw out the old bedding and nesting. Clean the base of the cage to remove any urine or faeces stains, but avoid using bleach or any other strong disinfectant as remnants of it might cause harm to your pet - a hot, soapy wash would be just fine!
Remember to wash their toys and meal dishes as well, before placing them back into the cage. Fill it with new bedding and nesting, and top up their dishes with fresh food and water. Once your fluffy pal is safely returned to their home, give them time to adjust to their new bedding!
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Caring for such cute creatures can be daunting at first, but with the proper preparations, your new friend will be able to live a happy and healthy life in your home. Keep an eye on your growing pal as well, and make changes to their routine accordingly!