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Small animal care

Learn all about the care and welfare of small animals with our resource page
and species factsheets!

Click on the species name to take you to their section.

Chinchillas

Chinchillas are soft rodents that originate from South America. Chinchillas are highly social animals and can live between 10 and 20 years! Even though they are classed as small mammals, chinchillas can reach an impressive 11 inches in length, excluding their tail! They are also nocturnal animals meaning they sleep during the day and are awake at night.

Degus

Degus originate from Chile and are highly sociable animals. In the wild they live in communities with up to 100 individuals. In captivity degus live between 5 to 9 years with the correct care. The species is diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day and spend most of their time foraging for food or digging in their enclosure.  

Ferrets

Ferrets are social and lively animals, they need to be kept in pairs or groups, preferably with the same sex. The average lifespan for ferrets is between 6 and 10 years old, however, some can live up to 15 years. Ferrets are classed as crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk; they can sleep up to 20 hours a day!

Gerbils

There are around 90 species of gerbils; the Mongolian gerbil is the one that is commonly kept as a pet. Gerbils are sociable, intelligent, and extremely active so they will need plenty of enrichment to keep them stimulated. This species is also nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night but are occasionally active during the day.  

Guinea pigs

Guinea pigs originate from South America and have become very popular as pets. They live anywhere between 4 to 8 years, occasionally even longer. As guinea pigs are social, it’s important to keep them in same-sex couples or small groups. Guinea pigs are also grazing animals meaning they eat small amounts of food regularly. It’s important to provide them with plenty of fruit and vegetables, as well as fresh hay daily.

Hamsters

There are various species of hamsters that all have individual traits and needs that need to be met to keep them happy and healthy. Hamsters generally live around 2 to 3 years and are a nocturnal species. Most hamster species do well on their own, however, there are a few species that enjoy company of the same sex. 

Mice
Mice are extremely social animals and need company of their own kind. It’s best to keep them in same sexed couples or pairs. On average mice live up to three years and are fully grown at around three months old. Mice are also nocturnal animals, meaning they are most active during the night. They enjoy building nests, so be sure to provide them with plenty of materials to allow them to carry this out! 

Rabbits

Rabbits are popular pets and there are various breeds for people to choose from, it is estimated that there are around 900,00 pet rabbits in the UK. Rabbits are also a social species and enjoy the companionship of same-sexed pairs or groups. They generally live between 8 to 12 years but can live for longer.  

Rats

Rats are highly social and intelligent animals and do well in same-sexed pairs or groups. They live for around 2 years; this seems a short time but due to their complex needs they need the correct care. Rats are also nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night, exploring their environment, socialising, and playing.  

Leanne's animal of the month

Each month our pet care advisor, Leanne, picks her animal of the month, to share fun facts on and useful tips to care for them!
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January 2022 - Guinea pigs

Find out more about the care and welfare of guinea pigs in the video above.
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March 2022 - Rabbits

Find out more about the care and welfare of rabbits in the video above.
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May 2022 - Rats

Find out more about the care and welfare of rats with our pet expert Leanne!

Pet sitting

Learn more about providing pet sitting services and the care and welfare of small animals with our vet Dr Eloise. 
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Small animal behaviour

Our vet Eloise goes over some signs that can show our small furries might not be feeling their best.

To help you reach your full potential  when caring for small animals we recommend you take the 'Small animal care' course!

Courses