Articles

Small Mammals + Care & Wellness

  • The ferret has been domesticated for over 2000 years. It was originally used for pest control and hunting in Europe (the polecat). They are members of the weasel family (Mustelidae), which includes skunks, otters, mink, weasels and badgers.

  • Guinea pigs, like rabbits, are true herbivores, although the physiology and function of their gastrointestinal system is less well understood than that of the rabbit, which has been well investigated.

  • Guinea pigs, also called cavies (or cavy for a single guinea pig), originated in South America where the Incas used them as food. They were probably introduced into Europe soon after the first Spanish explorers returned from that continent in the 1500s.

  • Relatively new to the pet industry is the African hedgehog. Hedgehogs can make interesting, somewhat challenging, yet fun and enjoyable pets. They are mammals whose entire back is blanketed with spines like a porcupine.

  • Rabbits are herbivores and are considered nibblers, in that they eat continuously. They have complex digestive systems and are very efficient at processing food. They also have very specific dietary needs. If you introduce new foods too quickly, or feed inappropriate food choices, the rabbit’s normal digestive flora (normal bacteria) will be disturbed and may lead to a sick rabbit.

  • Contrary to popular belief, rabbits are lagomorphs, not rodents. There are many breeds and colors of rabbits, such as the English Angora, Chinchilla, Dutch, Flemish Giant, Himalayan, Netherlands Dwarf, Rex, Polish, Satin, and Mini Lop.

  • Sugar gliders are small, nocturnal mammals that are usually active at night and sleep during the day. Like kangaroos, they are marsupials and possess a pouch in which the female sugar glider raises her young. In the wild, they live in New Guinea and Australia in costal or rain forests.

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