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What do I need for my new small pet?

What do I need for my new small pet?

As they say, good things come in small packages. If you’re preparing to welcome a new small animal such as a rabbit or guinea pig into your family, be prepared to show them some big love. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

Tip 1

Providing a safe home

Guinea pigs and rabbits are both curious little creatures that are usually happiest outdoors. Therefore, they need a cage or hutch to safely live in – preferably something that not only allows them to see the outside world, but has an enclosed area to retreat to. Small animals are especially sensitive to extreme temperatures. If it gets too hot or too cold you will need to keep a close eye on your pet as they may be in danger.

To create a safe and happy home, it is important to provide same-species companionship for your small pet. Housing rabbits and guinea pigs together is not recommended as this can spread disease and cause bullying. Given their social nature, they should be kept in groups of at least two individuals of the same species to prevent them from becoming bored or lonely.

Before introducing a new unfamiliar member to the hutch, it’s important to consider their sex, age, size and personality to make sure they will get along well together.

To help you form a happy & harmonious guinea pig or rabbit family, here are our recommended groups combos:

Guinea pigs:
  • Two or more females of a similar character – a strong character may bully a shy piggy.
  • Two boars – take care not to mix two very strong characters, as they may fight.
  • One or more sows with a neutered boar (neutering the male removes the potential for any unwanted litters). Females often seem more relaxed when they live with a neutered male, but never place more than one male in a group with females, as they will fight over the female's attention.
Rabbits:
 
The best rabbit combination is a neutered male and a neutered female. Adopting a brother and sister is ideal as they already know each other so are less likely to fight. Other combinations of rabbits can also live happily together, if they are introduced correctly and neutered.

Bedding

For affordable bedding, consider aspen shavings, or if you really want to treat your pet, then a cushy bed will allow them to rest in luxury. It’s safe to say your pet will soon leave a mess in their new home, so make sure you have some cleaning sprays and wipes on hand. Also provide a hideaway to give them a cosy place to rest with the added comfort of privacy and security.

Food and water

Both guinea pigs and rabbits will need a high-fibre pellet diet with plenty of fresh fruit and veggies to stimulate the digestive system. Your small pet is going to need water too, so make sure you buy them a weighted water bowl or drip bottle to avoid tipping and spilling.

Tip 2

Grooming

Guinea pigs are very fastidious about self-grooming and generally don’t need baths. You may clean them with a damp washcloth and brush them with a soft brush. Short haired pigs will benefit from a brush and comb once a week. Long haired pigs will require daily brushing and combing including a thorough comb through to ensure there are no matts forming close to the skin.

Rabbits generally stay clean and shouldn't require bathing, however a small amount of rabbit safe animal shampoo may be used in certain situations if a bath is needed. Always make sure you dry your rabbit thoroughly and brush through any coat tangles. Long coated or "fluffy / cashmere" rabbit breeds require daily grooming to comb through the coat and prevent any matting. These coat types may also require clipping by a veterinarian, however clipping the coat does not remove the need for daily brushing with a comb to break out any forming matts near the skin.

Brushing and grooming is a great way to bond with your small pet and assess their coat and overall body condition. A small pet bristle brush or slicker brush will help remove dirt, debris and loose fur while distributing their natural oils.

Toys

Guinea pigs and rabbits love a little fun. Make sure you keep their natural curiosity satisfied with a variety of small animal toys.

Animates Vetcare

Finally, it’s important that you find the number and location of your local Animates Vetcare clinic so that you can easily contact them in case of an emergency. 

Looking for pet care advice and tips?

If you have any questions about welcoming your small pet into your home, pop into your local Animates store and ask our friendly store staff for pet care advice and tips. 

To learn more about small pets, check out our rabbit and guinea pig care guides.