Pets

Birds

Birds make great family pets as they are easy to look after, many become fairly tame and some learn to speak or mimic. There are many bird species kept as pets ranging from the small finches and canaries to the larger parakeets and parrots.

Housing: All birds need plenty of space to fly around in so require a large cage suitable for the species. Birds can also be housed in aviaries which offer more space for flying. Perches and branches must be provided and toys offer stimulation.

Exercise: It is important that all indoor caged birds are let out in a secure room daily for exercise.

Food: A diet of seed appropriate to the species must be provided as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Health: Caged birds may feather pick due to a lack of exercise, stimulation or activity.

Grooming: No grooming is required, a bowl of water must be provided regularly for bathing.

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Goose

Duck

Bird

Bird

Chickens

Chickens make excellent pets which tame very easily and provide eggs for breakfast.

Housing: Chickens require a shelter, with a perch for roosting at night and a nest box, and a run for exercise. Bantam chicken breeds, such as the silkies and pekins, do not require much space so are ideal for small gardens.

Exercise: Chickens must have access to a run or secure garden during the day for exercise. Chickens spend most of their day scratching and foraging for seeds and roots in the ground.

Food: A diet of seed and grit must be provided. This can be supplemented with insects such as mealworms and soft fruits and vegetables, such as cabbage and lettuce.

Health: Common problems include parasites such as worms, lice and mites. Regular worming and routine mite/lice treatments can be provided to prevent this.

Grooming:Not required, a dust bath must be provided for the chickens to condition their feathers.      

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Chinchillas

Chinchillas are attractive as pets and are very social and inquisitive animals. They have soft, dense, beautiful coats, which come in a range of colours and can live for 10-15 years.

Housing: Chinchillas need a large cage with at least one shelf for them to sit on. They also require a nest box.

Exercise: Chinchillas should be let out of their cage daily for at least one hour in a secure area.

Food: A diet of pellets and hay must be provided. Treats such as apple, grapes and raisons can be given occasionally.

Health: One of the most common problems in chinchillas is overgrown teeth; this can be prevented by providing the correct diet of pellets and hay and by providing suitable items for them to chew. Chinchillas can also suffer from heatstroke in warm weather and so must be monitored and kept cool.

Grooming: Chinchillas require a dust bath to clean and look after their thick coat.      

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Chipmunks

Chipmunks are extremely entertaining animals however they are not cuddly pets, and do not like to be held for long.

Housing: Chipmunks are very active animals and so require a large cage. The best form of housing is either an indoor or outdoor aviary with branches for them to climb on. One nest box per chipmunk must be provided.

Exercise: Providing they are housed in a suitable sized cage no further exercise is required. However if tame they can be let out of an indoor cage in a secure room.

Food: Chipmunks require a dried food mix consisting of cereals, seeds and nuts. Fresh fruits and vegetables, and insects such as mealworms can also be provided.

Health: When kept in a colony cuts and wounds are a common occurrence. The majority of these wounds are only minor cuts however deep wounds can occur which can become infected if left untreated.

Grooming: No grooming is required.      

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Ferrets

Ferrets are intelligent, curious and playful animals which are becoming more and more popular as pets.

Housing: Although small in size ferrets are very active and therefore require a large cage. The cage must be at least 100cm x 60cm x 60cm in size.

Exercise: Ferrets are very playful and must be provided with a number of toys to prevent boredom. They must be let out of their cage daily for exercise. Most ferrets also enjoy being taken for a walk outside if fitted with a special harness and lead.

Food: Ferrets are carnivores and therefore require meat in their diet. Raw meats such as mince and chicken can be provided, however whole natural meats, which include bones and fur, such as dead mice and chicks provide ferrets with better nutrition. This meat must be supplemented with a commercial ferret dry mix.

Health: A ferrets coat will need to be checked regularly for parasites and they may need their claws cut.

Grooming: Ferrets require little grooming.      

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Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are friendly sociable animals which rarely bite and come in a wide range of colours and coat types making them ideal pets.

Housing: Guinea pigs need to be kept in pairs or groups, 2 young littermates of the same sex make the best pairing. A hutch or indoor cage for 2 guinea pigs should measure at least 80cm x 40cm x 40cm.

Exercise: Guinea pigs require regular access to a secure enclosure for exercise.

Food: Guinea pigs require a mixture of hay, dry guinea pig mix/pellets, fruits and vegetables. Their diet must provide them with a source of vitamin C, such as green leafy vegetables, if not a supplement will need to be added to the water.

Health: Common problems include overgrown teeth and claws, parasites such as lice and mites, and vitamin C deficiency.

Grooming: Guinea pigs require regular grooming, especially the long haired breeds.      

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Pygmy Goats

Pygmy goats are intelligent animals which respond readily to human company and therefore make gentle pets. They are however a herd animal and require company of their own kind.

Housing: Pygmy goats require a relatively small area with a shelter and a secure fenced pen.

Exercise: The pen should be large enough for them to exercise in and include platforms for them to climb on to prevent boredom.

Food: Pygmy goats require a high fibre diet in the form of hay. This should be supplemented with a goat mix and fruit and vegetables as a treat. A goat mineral block should also be provided. Contrary to popular belief, they do not make good lawn mowers, being browsers rather than grazers.

Health: Goats hooves grow rapidly and require trimming every 6-8 weeks. They must also be wormed twice a year.

Grooming: Regular grooming is not required however during the moult grooming is beneficial.

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Rabbits

Rabbits are the third most popular pet because of their inquisitive nature and the large number of breeds and colours available.

Housing: Rabbits can be housed either outdoors or indoors. Small rabbits will require a hutch of at least 4ft x 2ft x 18 inches high as a minimum, larger breeds require considerably more space to move around. Rabbits are social animals and must therefore be kept in pairs.

Exercise: Exercise is very important for rabbits and they should have at least 4 hours exercise a day out of their hutch in either a separate run or in a secure garden.

Food: Rabbits need fresh water, pellets, vegetables and lots and lots of hay and grass every day.

Health: Rabbits should be vaccinated against 2 killer diseases: Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD). Common problems include overgrown teeth and claws and flystrike.

Grooming: Rabbits require regular grooming, especially the long haired breeds such as the Angora and Lionhead.      

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Rats

Mention rats to most people and they will initially think of dirty, sewer-dwelling animals however there is a growing interest in keeping clean, domesticated rats as pets. Rats are intelligent and sociable, can be trained to perform simple tricks, enjoy the company of people and are easy to care for making them ideal pets.

Housing: A large cage is required with plenty of room for climbing. Rats are very social and must be kept in pairs.

Exercise: Rats enjoy time out of their cage and should have daily sessions of supervised play in a secure room.

Food: Rats are omnivores and require a rodent food as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Other foods such as chicken, rice, cooked pasta and hardboiled egg can also be offered.

Health: Some of the more common ailments rats suffer from include 'sniffles' (a respiratory condition sometimes caused by bedding or an allergy), itchy skin, mites and tumours.

Grooming: Rats do not require grooming.

Pet Rating: (1= Low/Good  5= High/Bad)

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Cost of Upkeep   •       
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Tortoises

Tortoises can make interesting pets which out live their owners, however they are not easy to keep due to their housing and dietary requirements.

Housing: Tortoises require indoor housing. The best form of housing is a tortoise table with both heat and UV lamps. Many tortoise species hibernate over the winter.

Exercise: Most species of tortoise should be allowed to roam free in an enclosed garden on warm sunny days.

Food: Good food items include Dandelions, Clover, Grass, some green vegetables, and small amounts of fruit, tomatoes or cucumber occasionally. A quality multivitamin/calcium supplement must be sprinkled on any food offered.

Health: Common health problems include Runny Nose Syndrome, shell damage, metabolic bone disorders due to a lack of vitamin D3 and calcium, mouth and shell rot and weight loss.

Grooming: A tortoises shell requires regular cleaning with a soft brush, such as an old toothbrush.      

Pet Rating: (1= Low/Good  5= High/Bad)

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Ease of Care        •  
Temperament        
Cost of Upkeep        
Suitability for Children        •  

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