When it comes to your fury friend, you want what's best for their well-being. An open concept may be ideal, but not everyone has the room to dedicate as their small pet's space so setting up a cage for them can be the best thing. Making sure that your small pet has all that they need is essential for small pet care, especially if they spend the majority of their day in the cage while you are away.
Here are 8 small pet tips to help make sure your rabbit, guinea pig, or chinchilla is comfortable in their cage.
1. Your Small Pet Needs PLENTY of Space to Space Around
It is recommended that the cage be six times the length of your small pet. The cages you find at pet stores can be small and often times they aren't the cage that you had envisioned.
If this is the case, you can always build one from wire storage cubes (that you build yourself) and zip ties.
For the owner that would like to pamper their small pets, there is always the option to build a bigger and better home.
2. Do Not Use Mesh or Wire For The Lining of Your Small Pet's Cage
This can hurt their sensitive feet, rabbits especially, and can cause an infection or sore hocks. The material scattered around the cage should be hay or small pet-safe material or bedding.
Rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas are sensitive creatures, which is why it's recommended that you use precaution when deciding on a material to line the cage. Hay and shredded newspaper are common but they do not absorb animal waste as well as recycled pulp or Food Grade Bedding.
Recycled pulp is more expensive and normally can only be found in holistic pet stores, but it doesn’t need to be changed as frequently as the other options. Food Grade Bedding is also more expensive, but allows you to go even longer between changes as it absorbs 6 times its own weight. Bonus: it's also safe for your small pet to nibble and ingest.
3. Know Your Small Pet's Habits
When it is time to put things inside your cage, it is important to understand that you may be rearranging the cage to your small pet's liking. Your fury friend tends to go to the bathroom while they are eating making it is wise to put the litter box under the hay rack.
Remember Small Pet Care Basics: to raise a healthy rabbit, guinea pig, or chinchillas, grass hay must be fed to them every day. For rabbits 7 months and older and guinea pigs 6 months and older, grass hay should make up 80% of their diet. For chinchillas older than a year, grass hay should make up 75% of their diet.
Timothy Hay, Orchard Grass, and Mountain are all considered grass hays. Alfalfa Hay is considered a legume (beanstalk) and fed to rabbits under 7 months, guinea pigs under 6 months, and chinchillas under 1 year. It's important that you transition your small pet to the right hay or they can become obese and/or develop urinary tract problems along with other health issues.
4. You Need a Water Bowl or Water Bottle
Choosing the method on which you give your small pet water is up to you, both will work to get your small pet the needed water to stay hydrated. The main difference between the two is the amount of effort you use to clean and replace the water.
It is suggested that you use a hanging water bottle to prevent any food, feces or bedding finding its way into the water. If you choose to use a water bowl, make sure you check it periodically throughout the day to ensure that nothing has landed in the water.
5. Create a Cozy Place
Just like most animals and humans, small pets love to get cozy when they get tired and lazy. To create a cozy place for them to relax you can lay down a towel, blanket or rabbit, guinea pig, or chinchilla bed.
6. Give Your Small Pet Toys
Rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas like to play and be entertained too! If your small pet stays inside their cage for long periods of time it's important that you place some toys inside their cage to help them stay occupied and to pass the time until you can play with them.
You can also throw in a few chewing toys for them such as Apple Sticks to help entertain them and keep their teeth worn down!
7. Lay Out Items For Them To Chew On
Rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas love to chew on anything they can get their teeth on. You can help make sure your small pet chews on things that are safe by placing items that are okay for them to chew on inside their cage.
A lot of things your small pet can safely chew on can be found around your home, check it out! You can also throw in a few Apple Sticks for them to munch on, not only will help to entertain them but it will also help to wear down their constantly growing teeth.
8. Include Something Your Small Pet Can Crawl Inside When They Are Afraid
It’s no mystery that small pets are known to be skittish, so having a smaller cardboard box (that they can still fit in) gives your fury friend a place to hide when they need it.
Cleaning the Cage
An important part of small pet care is to clean your small pet's cage on a regular basis to help prevent any illnesses. Cleaning the cage itself can be done with a white vinegar diluted with water (4:1 ratio). Make sure that everything you washed is dry before you put it back in the cage. If you choose to use a different cleaner, make sure that you check to see if they are toxic to your small pet.
Location of the Cage
When choosing a location for your small pet's cage, it is important to observe the environment and factors that could potentially hurt your furry friend. Avoid putting the cage under windows because of the potential of direct sunlight that can overheat them. Heat stroke takes more small pet's lives than old age. The same concern applies when you are setting up a cage outside. The sun moves from east to west, so check on your small pet's cage frequently to ensure that there are places in the cage where they can hide and cool down from the sun.
It may seem like a lot of information to have to recall, but to keep your small pet happy and healthy it's important to understand small pet care and the different options you can give to your rabbit, guinea pig, or chinchilla to give them a safe and healthy place live.
Once you've got your small pet's cage all figured out, you'll need to decide on what kind of litter box you want and begin training them. Download our Guide to Creating the Ideal Litter Box for more tips on the litters to use vs litters not use!