Small animals, such as rodents and rabbits, can make great family pets. In general, they're fairly easy to care for and are not too expensive to keep. To help promote your pet’s overall well-being, it's important to provide him or her with a nutritionally rich diet. While many people assume that commercial mixes alone are sufficient, often times, the diets of small animals should be supplemented with other nutrient-rich foods. Understand what your furry friend requires to help ensure that he or she lives a happy and healthy life.
Small animal nutrition basics
The following dietary guidelines can help your pet thrive:
- Mice, hamsters, rats and gerbils: Provide commercial mixes containing grains and seeds designed for the individual species. Though it should not be their main source of sustenance, fresh fruit and vegetables are good for them, too.
- Guinea pigs: In addition to guinea pig pellets, you should offer fresh fruit and vegetables. Guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C on their own; it must be supplemented through fortified pellets or with foods like oranges and strawberries.
- Rabbits: Give your rabbit a diet of high-quality pellet food. Lots of hay and fresh produce like apples, lettuce, carrots and kale should also be provided.
- Chinchillas: In nature, chinchillas do not eat very much, so stick to recommended portion sizes for pellet food to avoid overfeeding. You can also give your pet hay products. Because they have sensitive digestive tracts, never feed your chinchilla fatty foods. Some vegetables and other foods with high water contents should be avoided as well.
- Ferrets: A meat-based commercial mix created for ferrets is necessary, since they cannot survive on grain-based proteins.
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