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Rick's Animal Corner

Accommodation, Exercise & Feeding

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Rabbit & guinea pig hutches

For Outdoor Use:

 

 

Two to three guinea pigs could live in a rabbit hutch suitable for medium to large size rabbits. Medium size: 120 x 60-x cm/4 x 2 x 2 ft high. A large hutch: 150 x 60 x 60 cm/5 x 2 x 2 ft high. For more than one rabbit/guinea pig, add 30cm ft in width. For out door use, a hutch should be made from solid wood .with a sloped roof slightly protruding over the front of the hutch with rainproof cover to stop rain settling on roof. It is advisable to use strong wire mesh on one door and a full wood panel on the door for the sleeping quarters. The door with wire mesh is usually a little longer than the door for the sleeping quarters. Partition of sleeping quarters from living area with wooden panel in side hutch. The living area is usually where a small animal will eat, drink and go to the toilet. I am aware that rabbits use one corner for toilet area in living quarter.

 

The hutch should be a foot or so of ground as this will prevent dampness. To do this, select a hutch with legs built on to the base. The floor and inside walls should be a smooth finish. The exterior of the hutch should be coated with a rainproof finish.

 

Cages for Mice, Rats, Gerbils and Hamsters:

 

Cages for these small animals (Rodents) are usually made from thin metallic bars with a plastic base and come in various sizes. These cages are ideal for indoor use only. Rats can live happily in a hutch or large cage.

 

Exercise, Stimulation & Exercise Runs:

 

There good verities of runs for guinea pigs & rabbits that may vary in size & shape. A large run is better for more than one guinea pig or more than one rabbit being accommodated together. It is important to make sure they have strong wire mesh all round to keep predators away & a good solid wooden frame. Inside the run should be a box or something similar for them to shelter. A portable run can be folded & put away easily.

 

BEWARE Of MR FOX!

 

As most of us are aware, many foxes live in the city or town (Urban Foxes). To ensure your pets are protected from the threat of a hungry fox it is strongly recommended you use weld mesh rather than chicken mesh as weld mesh is far stronger. Chicken mesh can easily be chewed by the jaws of a fox & chicken mesh is twisted together when assembled. Weld mesh is welded & is therefore unlikely to be damaged by a fox. Some cages & runs come with staples & wooden hinges. It is strongly recommended you purchase strong metal bolts, U shaped staples & strong metal hinges. When buying or building a hutch it is better to ensure it is made from strong wood as a fox can chew through plywood.  Strong wooden shutters are very good for keeping your pet(s) safe at night or move the hutch into a secure shed or garage.

 

Remember, foxes can jump fences as high as six foot & they are very good at climbing, digging & getting in & out of small gaps.

 

Even when your pet(s) are in their accommodation, it is important to provide stimulation. You can provide cardboard or plastic tubes. Cardboard tubes are suitable for nibbling. Rodents like to hide & run in & out of tubes. Guinea pigs, small rabbits & rats require larger tubes to run in & out of. There are small ladders & exercise wheels available for mice, gerbils & hamsters that clip on to the inside of the cage. Be careful when selecting a wheel, as it’s important to think about the small feet of rodents. For mice, gerbils & hamsters, there are exercise balls available to allow small rodents to exorcise when out of the cage. These are usually made from strong plastic with air holes. They open out into to halves & are easy to close by putting the two halves together & turning until they click into place.

 

 

 

Bedding For Hutches & Cages:

 

Wood shavings and or old sheets of shredded paper are ideal. Never use saw dust, as this can be bad for the eyes and is likely to have foreign bodies such as nails or other sharp pieces. Straw is very good for bedding for rabbits but be careful when selecting straw for guinea pigs, as straw has been known to damage guinea pigs eyes. Hay is good for bedding as it’s softer & hay is a good source of food for both guinea pigs & rabbits. If you decide to keep chinchillas, you must insure they have a sand bath to clean themselves. Most pet stores can provide the special sand required. You can reuse the same sand depending on how dirty it becomes. To reuse, pour it from the sand bath by using a sieve into another container then clean & dry the sand bath & pour the sand back into the sand bath. 

 

Food & water:

 

There are a variety of dried foods for rabbits, guinea pigs & rodents. Some dried food look similar, as it is colourful. There are also dried pellets that are usually dark green for guinea pigs & rabbits. There are vitamin C dried food, as guinea pigs require this vitamin C supplement.

 

About a handful of dried food should be enough for one meal for one rabbit or one guinea pig. This can fluctuate slightly depending on the size of rabbit, guinea pig or rodent. I would recommend feeding dried food once daily & provide fresh food later in the day. Fresh food for rabbits & guinea pigs can consist of, carrot & cabbage leafs. Dandelion leafs are a favourite for rabbits. It is not advisable to give lettuce especially iceberg lettuce should not be given to rabbits as this can cause stomach upsets as it is very rich. Chopped apple and orange segments is also very good. Orange has vitamin C, so this would be good for guinea pigs to provide vitamin C supplement. Hay (dried grass) is good for teeth. Particularly the top front teeth (“incisors”) as hay will also help to keep incisors the correct length and hay has a lot of nutrients. In the wild, a single rabbit will spend around 4 hours a day chewing grass to ensure they keep their teeth and mouth in good condition.

 

Ensure they have fresh water daily to avoid dehydration and thirst. Ensure food & water is not too cold, room temperature is fine. If food and water is served too cold, this may cause upset stomach.

 

When providing fresh water to rabbits, it’s a good idea to provide Vitamin Drops & attach to the hutch a Mineral Lick that rabbits will naturally nibble to obtain any extra minerals needed. These items can be purchased from most good pet stores.

 

 

 

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