Guinea pigs …… they are endearing small furries and can be a delight to have as pets. Firstly they are awake during the day, which can make them child friendly. The memories as a child of waiting for your pet hamster to wake up before you have to go to bed, or the sound of the squeaky wheel going around at 1am was never the most fun for the household! Guinea pigs are sociable pets and like to be in their own company, we recommend keeping them in same sex groups. They are very curious creatures so enjoy inquisitive objects in their runs, they can be kept indoors or outdoors. Ensuring during the winter months they are kept protected outdoors from the cold weather and similarly from the heat in the summer. They eat fresh fruit and vegetables, ensuring they get a source of vitamin C as they cannot produce this themselves. Alongside good quality hay and guinea pig mix. We often see guinea pig patients for parasites so daily checks on their coat and skin is always important.

Rats are not everyones’ cup of tea, often we have clients say they smell or they see the running around stable yards. Rats definitely have unfortunately a bad name associated with them, given their heavy involvement in the plague! However having owned a rat when I was younger in comparison to the hamster which I also had, the rat was much easier to look after. It was more social and interactive even learning a few tricks. Despite my sisters love hate relationship for her (her name was Nutmeg – yes a stereotypical brown rat name) she didn’t smell. Often the tail is a sticking point for people but if you ever get the chance to feel a rats tail you will be pleasantly suprised, they are very soft and have a very short coating of hair on them. Regarding health issues one interesting fact is that your pet rat can catch your common cold! Often we see rats which come in sneezing and it turns out their owners have had a cold within the preceeding 10 days!

Rabbits are the 3rd most popular pet in the UK, often we see adults who have house trained rabbits, they are not just pets for children. Rabbits can be quite difficult to handle for children and when handling them you should always protect their back. If a rabbit jumps from your arms or kicks out they can break their backs, so we always recommend children be supervised when handling their pets. We often liken rabbits to small horses, they are hind gut fermenters which means it is important their guts are always moving. If a rabbit is in pain or becomes ill their guts often stop working or go into stasis (ileus). They can become very sick very quickly so we always recommend contacting your nearest Swaynes branch if you notice your rabbit is not eating or doesn’t pass faeces for 12-24 hours.