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Small Mammals + Nutrition

  • Chinchillas require a high fiber diet and should be offered grass hay (such as Timothy hay or other low calcium hays such as orchard grass, oat hay, or meadow hay) free choice (available 24 hours a day). Hay should be the main component of their diet.

  • Ferrets are true carnivores and cannot handle a diet containing more than 4% fiber. There are several good commercial ferret foods available that are dry foods.

  • Guinea pigs, like rabbits, are true herbivores, although the physiology and function of their gastrointestinal system is less well understood than that of the rabbit, which has been well investigated.

  • Guinea pigs are easy to care for and, if handled frequently and gently, make great family pets. They are generally hardy, healthy animals but are susceptible to certain problems and diseases.

  • In the wild, hedgehogs eat a diverse selection of insects as well as some plant material and very occasionally small or baby mammals (like pinkie mice). Hedgehogs usually eat at night.

  • In the wild, prairie dogs tend to eat grasses, plants, and leaves. As captive pets, it is essential to feed a diet that approximates what they eat in the wild in order to prevent dietary-related diseases such as obesity, malnutrition, and gastrointestinal disorders, which are among the more common health disorders in captive prairie dogs.

  • Rabbits are herbivores and are considered nibblers, in that they eat continuously. They have complex digestive systems and are very efficient at processing food. They also have very specific dietary needs. If you introduce new foods too quickly, or feed inappropriate food choices, the rabbit’s normal digestive flora (normal bacteria) will be disturbed and may lead to a sick rabbit.

  • All of the pet rodents must be fed a good, high quality rodent chow (nutritionally balanced pelleted food) available at pet stores. Many veterinarians also recommend offering hay to the rodents; check with your veterinarian about this first.

  • Sugar gliders are omnivorous in the wild. In the wild they eat the sap and gum of the eucalyptus and acacia tree plus pollen, nectar, manna (a sugar deposit from the sap oozing from wounds on tree branches or trunks), honeydew (sugar secreted by sap-sucking insects) and a wide variety of insects and spiders. Fruit is not a big part of their diet.

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