How can you avoid dental problems for chinchillas? 0 1649


Despite looking like a rabbit or squirrel, a chinchilla is actually classified as a rodent. Native to South America, they?re loved for their super soft, highly dense fur, which makes them irresistible to stroke. Unfortunately, this soft fur is also much loved by not only the native people of the Andes mountains, where chinchillas originate, but fur coat fans of the Western world, which has lead to 90% of the wild chinchilla population being wiped out in the last 15 years.

Chinchillas are popular pets, but caring for chinchillas is not easy and they are not a recommended choice for a pet-keeping novice, as they?re very sensitive to high temperatures, require a lot of exercise and regular baths in pumice dust.

One of the biggest problems encountered by chinchilla owners is that of their pet?s teeth. Chinchillas have two sets of teeth ? the long teeth you can see at the front of their mouths, and the molars which are located further back in the mouth. Chinchilla teeth keep growing throughout their lives, and to combat teeth overgrowth, they like to gnaw on wood and hard surfaces to keep their teeth at a manageable level. Pet shops sell a variety of gnawing stones and toys which encourage chinchillas to gnaw and wear their teeth down.

Another way to keep your chinchilla?s teeth in check is with a good quality hay. A good quality hay, such as Timothy hay, is ideal for this, as it?s a tough grass which means the chinchilla has to really grind their teeth on it, and wear its teeth down as a result. Cheaper hays can be soft, and do not offer the same resistance as Timothy hays, allowing the back teeth to grow without regulation.

If you suspect your chinchilla has overgrown teeth, look out for symptoms such as drooling, and problems with chewing and swallowing food. While it?s easy for anyone to see overgrowth problems with the long front teeth, the molars at the back of the mouth are just as likely to become overgrown, and these are difficult to see without the kind of equipment seen at your veterinarians. If you suspect tooth overgrowth, your vet is probably the only person who can give you a definitive answer.

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3 surprising behaviours of pet rats 0 1211

Pet rat behaviour

Rats have been given a bad name by decades of bad press. Far from the dirty, disease-filled pests that are portrayed on our screens, these sociable, clean animals have a few surprising perks to owning them.

These sociable, friendly pets are highly trainable animals who show affection for their owners and have many cute little quirks that make them great companions. They also have a very strange way of showing they?re happy!

With that in mind, here are three surprising behaviours of pet rats.

1. They are incredibly playful animals

This one will be no surprise to those who will have seen the boxing, chasing and excited jumps with their own eyes, but many are unaware that rats spend lots of time playing with each other and their owners. One scientific study actually showed that rats giggle when they are tickled. It?s highly recommended that you fill your pet rat’s cage with lots of enrichment toys and interact with them daily. Many owners report that their pet rats love being chased or to wrestle their hands!

2. They are incredibly social animals and love to show affection

Rats are incredibly social creatures. While of course every animal has its own personality and there are exceptions to the rule, they need to live with at least one other rat and most enjoy lots of daily interaction with their owners. It is not a rare sight to see pet rats snuggled up in the laps, pockets and sleeves of their humans. They will also nibble and lick them, as they would other rats, in a show of affection.

3. They boggle their eyes when they are happy

Surprising when first witnessed, one of the most peculiar aspects of rats is the way they display their contentment. While cats purr and dogs wag their tails, when a rat is very happy or relaxed they will brux and boggle – which is a sort of teeth grinding and very fast bulging of the eyes.

Rats are brilliant pets for all ages and there are many positives that come from owning these friendly, misunderstood animals.

What can degus eat? 0 2063

What can degus eat

When they?re living in the wild, degus focus on dietary fibre. It makes up about 60% of their diet, with the other 40% consisting of natural vegetation. But when they?re kept as pets, you?ll need to keep a close eye on what you feed your degu.

Good quality hay

For the most part, your degu?s diet should consist of good quality hay. There are lots of brands that will suffice, but two of particularly good quality are Timothy Hay and Meadow Hay. Keep an eye on the colour: if it?s pink or white, you should throw this hay away as it?s growing mould. If it?s green, it can cause bloating. Occasionally, you can mix some Alfalfa hay in with your regular hay. It?s high in protein, so great in small doses.

You can top up your degu?s bowl with a little bit of guinea pig or degu-specific food, but don?t go overboard. It?s important that your degu doesn?t start ignoring the hay because it?s got a range of health benefits, including the maintenance of a healthy gut and strong teeth. Around 10g of degu food a day should do the trick.

Human food in moderation

The good news is you can feed your degu some of your human food! Give them to your degu in moderation though, as they can cause gas and bloating. On rotation, you can feed them the following foods around once or twice a week:

? Asparagus
? Carrot tops
? Dandelion leaves
? Broccoli
? Cauliflower
? Fresh herbs
? Brussels sprouts
? Celery
? Cabbage
? Courgette
? Green beans
? Beetroot
? Dried herbs
? Pumpkin
? Butternut squash
? Marigold flowers
? Radish

Some sugary foods can be an occasional treat for your degu. In excess, they carry the risk of diabetes, so we?d only recommend doing this once a month.

? Apple
? Cherry tomatoes
? Peas
? Sweet potato
? Carrots
? Cucumber
? Sweetcorn or corn on the cob

When it?s treat time for your degu, give them a tiny amount (one or two) of:

? Sunflower seeds
? Peanuts
? Pumpkin seeds
? Whole nuts

As a general rule, the main thing to avoid giving your degu is fruit not listed here, rabbit food, hamster food or anything with molasses.

Just like us, degus love food ? whether it?s good or bad for them. Bookmark this page to make sure you give your degu a balanced diet, and happy feeding!

Learn more about caring for your degu and other pet care advice here: