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Small Pets & Exotics

Mice are social so should be kept in groups, ideally same sex to avoid unwanted litters. Their bedding and cage requirements are similar to that of a hamster or rats but please be aware that mice can squeeze through small spaces, so make sure the cage bars are not too wide. Contrary to belief, mice do not require cheese or dairy products. It is best to feed them a good-quality, commercial mouse food. Mice like climbing and burrowing through tunnels but they are very quick so do not always make ideal pets for children.

Rats can be rewarding pets as they are intelligent and enjoy human contact if handled from an early age. They like to be kept with their own kind, ideally in same sex groups to prevent unwanted litters. They should be kept in a suitable size wire cage with dust-extracted wood shavings in the base. A nest box should be provided with shredded paper bedding and the cage should be away from direct sunlight and drafts. Rats are omnivores so require a mix of grains, vegetables and dry dog food. Treats should be minimised in order to prevent obesity. Rats should be checked daily and allowed regular exercise outside of their cage.

Syrian hamsters should be solitary as they are likely to fight in groups. Russian and Chinese hamsters prefer company and are best kept in same sex groups. Their teeth are continually growing so they should have access to things like wood chews to prevent their teeth overgrowing. A hamster's bedding requirements are similar to rats, although they should be kept in proper hamster cages or tanks as they can squeeze through larger cage bars. Diet should consist of commercial hamster food with small amounts of fruit and vegetables. Hamsters are mainly active at night so do not always make ideal pets for young children. They enjoy playing in cardboard tubes and on exercise wheels.

Gerbils would naturally live in a desert habitat and therefore do not produce much urine. They like to tunnel so should be kept in a tank rather than a cage, with deep sawdust for burrowing in. They are sociable and like to be in groups, ideally of the same sex. Tubes and branches can help to entertain them and a dust bath will keep their coat clean. Gerbils should be fed a good-quality, commercial food with some fresh fruit and vegetables.