Buying & equipment
Rodents can be found all over the world in a wide range of different shapes and sizes suited to their individual living environments. Many species of rodents are already familiar to us as much-loved pets; a wide variety of others are only slowly growing in popularity. It is, however, important to remember that each rodent has its own particular requirements for a healthy diet, exercise and living environment.
Checklist for initial equipment
- A sufficiently large cage
- A sturdy, washable feeding bowl
- Hayrack for daily hay requirements
- Hay, e.g. products from the Vita Verde® range
- Water bottle with fresh water or VITA Fit® Aqua drink
- Sleeping box for sleeping and resting
- Soft, absorbent litter e.g. Comfort classic made from woodchips or Farmer´s Strohstreu made from pelleted straw
- Saltlicks to provide important minerals and trace elements
- Main food, e.g. Vitakraft Menu Vital
- Vitakraft Kräcker® sticks to keep your pet busy and wear down its teeth
Tips for buying rodents
Many animal lovers are well used to keeping hamsters or guinea pigs and eventually seek out other rodents whose appearance and behaviour they find particularly interesting. These animals can be bought from responsible breeders or good pet shops. Animal shelters and private rescue centres also often have rodents looking for a new home.
Signs of a healthy rodent:
- Lively, alert behaviour (remember that some species are nocturnal and sleep during the day!)
- A thick coat
- Clear, bright eyes
- A dry nose
- A clean behind
Do you have questions about other rodents? Here you will find the answers and a contact form.
Learn more about other rodents with our portrait.
Caring for your pet
In addition to providing a good diet, ensuring that your rodent is housed in a suitable cage is essential for a long and healthy life. Rodents need a sufficiently large cage and entertainment that caters to their natural instincts. Depending on the species, they will need time outside of the cage, opportunities to climb, the company of their own kind or somewhere they can dig and excavate. Digging is particularly important for rodents that live in underground burrows in the wild.
Many rodents are happy grooming themselves. All that you will usually need to do is clean out the cage on a regular basis (especially the feeding and toilet areas) and, depending on the species, provide a sand bath or give your pet a brush from time to time.
Cleaning your rodent's cage
Depending on the species, cage size and number of animals, you will need to clean the cage and replace the litter about once a week. During the week, you should also clean out the toilet area several times. You must also clean the cage itself, together with accessories such as the food bowl, hay rack etc. on a regular basis. This is best done using warm water.
The cage also needs a thorough clean once every month: This involves giving the entire cage a good rinse out. Avoid using strong household detergents. If necessary, you can clean areas of heavy soiling using a hard brush and a little washing-up liquid or vinegar. Afterwards, rinse everything down well with fresh water and leave it to dry. You can then scatter around clean small animal litter and put your pet's accessories back inside. Following this cleaning regime ensures that your pet's cage remains clean and hygienic.
The perfect diet
Rodents have adapted to live in a number of different habitats across the entire world. As a result, they have a wide range of differing diets. In addition to herbivorous grain eaters and grazers that primarily eat grass, leaves and roots, you can also find omnivores who also seek out insects and other live food. Rodents kept as household pets must therefore be provided with a diet that meets their individual nutritional requirements.
- Provide a varied diet
- Provide small portions of food several times a day
- Place fresh hay in a rack for species that require this
- Ensure that fresh water or Vita Fit® Aqua drink is available at all times
- Provide succulent food such as fruit or vegetables (e.g. carrots, carrot tops, apples, bell peppers) on a daily basis
- Remove succulent food that has started to wilt
- To wear down their teeth, many species of rodent need something to gnaw on, such as Kräcker® sticks
Behaviour & familiarisation
A new member of your family
The best way to get your new housemate home from the pet shop or breeder is in a secure transport box.
Once your rodent arrives home and is placed in the cage you have set up in advance, it is best left alone for the first few days so that it can get used to its new surroundings in peace. After all, your new pet needs time to explore the unfamiliar environment.
Once your pet has settled in, you can start to get it used to being around people. The best way to do this is by providing a tasty treat, such as a crunchy Kräcker® stick or fragrant fresh food. While doing this, speak in a soft voice and avoid sudden movements. Remember never to reach for a rodent from above as rodents instinctively identify this motion with danger. After all, birds or prey and other predators usually attack from above!