July is ‘Small Furries’ month

Guinea Pig Gossip

Guinea Pigs are very clever and sociable little creatures. They live on average for 5 to 8 years. In winter they must have shelter and plenty of bedding so they can have a minimum temperature of 18° C. The hutch should be off the ground so that they do not suffer from rising damp. Regular cleaning prevents flies being attracted in the summer and the bedding going mouldy in winter weather. Mites are a very common and there are preventative treatments available, please phone us for any further information.

Guinea Pigs must have Guinea Pig food – they cannot eat rabbit food as they need extra vitamin C, otherwise like the sailors, they get scurvy. They also need lots of fresh hay and water.  Because they are foragers they need feeding twice daily. Ideally give a pellet diet so that they cannot selectively feed. Like children they will pick out the haribo and leave the brocolli.

Guinea Pigs love a treat and like to be a bit spoilt. Try hiding them around the hutch to make life more interesting. But there are some things they can’t eat -potatoes, apples, mushrooms,avacado, rhubarb, chillies, jam, nuts, seeds, dairy, meat, raisins, alcohol, bread, fish, beans, lentils, eggs, chocolate. Some of these will come as no great surprise to you. Remember they are prey animals so they don’t like large open spaces but if they feel secure they love to have the space to play with toys. There are little dumbells and food finding toys available to keep them amused.

Some Guinea Pig Facts:

  • Young are called piglets
  • Females are called sows
  • The males are boars
  • Sexually mature at 6 to 10 weeks old
  • Gestation period of 59 to 72 days
  • Litter size of 3 to 4 piglets
  • Weaning at 3 to 4 weeks


Is aimed at their humans and means – “FEED ME NOW”.


A purring sound happens when a male is courting a female or the female does it when she’s in season. While they’re making this sound they sway their hips and walk around .


A purring guinea pig is happy and you often hear it when they are being stroked. If they do it and stand stock still then it may be due to fear of an unknown. Often this is a phone or a doorbell.


A sharp high pitched wheek and it means they are in pain or scared. It can also be an alarm call from a mother to her babies.


They do this when they are happily mooching around. It means they are relaxed and contented.


Normally heard when they are resting and get disturbed. If they are feeling grumpy and want to be left alone.

Teeth Chattering

This is a warning that they are very upset and angry or that they are trying to sort out the heirachy.


Rarely heard. Sounds like a bird singing.

Chinchilla Chat

Chinchilla Facts

  • Young are called Kits
  • Females are called the Doe
  • Males are called Bucks
  • Lifespan between 10 and 20 years
  • Sexually mature in 4 to 12 months
  • Their gestation period is between 111 and 113 days
  • Litter size of 2
  • Weaning in 8 to 10 weeks

There are two types of Chinchilla Lanigera and Brevicaudata. They have lots of different caot colours ranging from Albino to Black velvet. They need a climbing area, a sleep boxand a daily refreshed sandbath. You need to avoid humidity and temperatures above 28°C.

Naturally they eat a very high fibre poor diet. In captivity good quality hay is essential to help wear down their teeth. Their diet must be very low in fat and therefore no nuts or seeds as they are too high in fat. Too much fat can make them overweight but ultimately their liver cannot cope with it and it can be fatal. DO NOT suddenly change their diet as it will catastrophically change their gut flora. Treats that they can have must either specifically be for chinchillas or dandelion leaves, endive, raisins, dried apple or little pieces of orange. Never more than a teaspoon a day.

Give them lots of climbing and hiding places.

Never grasp the fur where the tail meets the body, otherwise the fur will slip off.  Never grasp the tail as this also could drop off.

They should be kept in same sex pairs or polygamous  groups (1 male per 5 females).

The most common condition that we see chinchillas for is poor teeth.  These cause a decrease in appetite and weight loss, dribbling or just a wet chin.

Rat Ravings

Rat Facts

  • Young are called Kits
  • Females are called the Doe
  • Males are called Bucks
  • Lifespan of 2 to 4 years
  • Sexually mature in 6 to 10 weeks
  • Gestation of 10 to 22 days
  • Litter sizes between 6 and 16
  • Weaning age is 3 – 4 weeks
  • Omnivores

Rats make wonderful pets, they are extremely intelligent and social. Their cages should be as large as possible as they can easily become bored. They have very sensitive hearing so keep them away from washing machines, stereo, etc..

Rats will eat almost anything. A good quality rat food and the occassional treat is fine. They all have their favourites but be aware they are like children and will often go for the fatty sugary treats so you must be their conscience.

If you get them a wheel it MUST be a rat wheel otherwise they could damage their backs.

Rats can often have ‘Red tears’ these do not contain blood but instead poryphyrins and is generally a sign of stress or ill-health..

Ferret Fancies

Ferret Facts

  • Young are called kits
  • Females are called a Jill
  • The male a Hob
  • Life span between 5 and 11 years
  • Sexual maturity, the males in 5 to 9 months and the females the Spring after their birth.
  • Gestation 38 to 44 days
  • Litter size on average is 8
  • Weaning age is 6 to 8 weeks
  • Carnivores

They are curious, entertaining and sociable pets, but like everything you get out what you put in. They can be easily litter trained, this makes cleaning them out a lot easier.

They need high proein and high fat diets and have no real need for carbohydrates or fibre.

If you have a female ferret then you must either get her spayed, have a ‘jill-jab- once or twice a year or have a vasectomised male. If you do not do this the jill comes into season and does not stop being in season. She then becomes anaemic and can die. Due to recent regulation changesthe ‘jill-jab’ may soon not be a cost effective option as the drug will no longer be a multi use vial, therefore we would recommend spaying if you are not intending to breed.

Hamster Habits

Hamster Facts

  • Young are called pups
  • Females the Doe
  • Males are called Bucks
  • Life span of 1 – 3 yeards
  • Sexual maturity for the females is 4 weeks and the males in 6 – 8 weeks
  • Gestation period  is 15 – 18 days
  • Litter size is on average 8 pups
  • Pups will be weaned in 3 weeks
  • Diet  – omnivorous

These little guys are nocturnal. In the wild they can travel for up to eight miles in one night to look for food. So beware of them getting bored in a little cage. They collect their food in cheek pouches. Some hamsters such as the Syrian are very sociable but some of the dwarf breeds are much harder to handle and can be quite aggressive to you and each other.

They have very sensitive hearing and should not be kept near TVs, washing machines, etc.

Their natural behaviour is to forage so they need to have food hidden so they don’t get bored. Syrian, Golden, Russian and Chinese hamsters should be kept as lone animals.


Degus, Gerbils and Mice Musings

Degu Facts

  • Lifespan of 5 to 8 years
  • Sexual maturity in 3 to 4 months
  • Gestation period of 24 – 26 days
  • Litter size of 6 to 7 pups
  • Weaning in 21 to 24 days
  • Diet – degus are herbivorous
  • Active during the day (unlike hamsters for example)

Gerbil Facts

  • Young are called Pups
  • Females the Doe
  • The males are called Bucks
  • Life span of 3 – 5 years
  • Sexually mature in 10 to 12 weeks
  • Gestation period of 24 to 26 days
  • Litter size between 3 and 10 pups
  • Weaning at 21 to 24 days

Mice Facts

  • Young are called pinkies or kittens
  • Females are does
  • Males are called Bucks
  • Life span of 1½ to 3 years
  • Sexually mature in 6 to 7 weeks
  • Gestation period of 19 to 21 days
  • Litters of 8 pups is average
  • Weaning after 3 weeks
  • Diet is omnivorous

Rabbit Rantings.

Before you go to get your new addition please consider how much work looking after a rabbit involves, also, if the person the rabbit is being bought for will undertake these responsibilities.

Rabbits have great personalities and they all have they own individual traits. House rabbits are becoming more popular and the House Rabbit Association’s website is a great source of information.

They can be litter trained with relative ease and this lessens the burden of cleaning out whether they are indoor or outdoor rabbits.

We would on the whole recommend the pellet type diets as these prevent selective feeding. The pretty mixes are fine but they will pick out the bits they like and leave the rest. It is important to think of the dried foods as an extra rather than their main source of food.

The most important thing to remember about rabbits is – THEY EAT GRASS (hay being dried grass). Your rabbit can eat grass and fresh food from any age, but if they have come from a pet shop then they may never have seen grass/fresh food before. In this case introduce small bits gradually.

It is important that they eat grass as this keeps their weight down but also helps dental health.

Rabbit’s front and back teeth can over grow. It is important to watch out for symptoms of over grown teeth; dribbling, selectively eating, not cleaning their own bottom.

Although you do get some rabbits that are just lazy, for most rabbits not cleaning their bottoms is a sign of either obesity or pain. During the summer months rabbits bottoms should be checked twice a day minimum in case of maggots. It takes only a matter of hours for maggots to develop. Fly eggs look like tiny cream, sticky grains of rice. There are products that stop the stage I maggots developing into stage II maggots. If you would like more information please telephone the surgery.

There are 2 vaccinations available for rabbits. There is Myxomatosis, this is a ‘man-made’ virus and in this area we would strongly recommend giving the vaccine every 6 months as it is such a high risk area. The other vaccine is called Viral Haemorrhagic Disease, this vaccine is given 2 weeks after the Myxomatosis and lasts 12 months.

Most rabbits will need their nails cut twice a year. We can do this for you and we can then show you how to do it yourself if you would like us to.

Rabbits will eat anything and many plants are poisonous to them. This will not put them off eating them. Here is a list of plants that are definitely safe and if in doubt do not give it.


Acorn, Alfalfa, Beech, Beechnuts, Chickweed, Clover, Coltsfoot, Comfrey, Corn Marigold, Corn Spurry, Cow Parsley, Daisy, Dandelion, Fruit Trees, Groundsel, Hawthorn Berries, Hazel, Hogweed, Knotted Persicaria, Lady’s thumb, Lucerne, Meadow Horsetail, Nettles, Oxeye, Plantain, Rose, Shepherds Purse, Sow Thistle, Sunflower, Thistle, Vetch, Wheat/Barley, Willow, Yarrow.


Anemone, Azalea, Bittersweet, Bryony, Caladium, Cyclamen, Columbine, Dog Mercury, Figwort, Deadly Nightshade, Woody Nightshade, Poppies, Ragwort, Buttercups, Daffodils, Bluebells, Foxglove, Hemlock, Spurges, Kingcup, Marsh Marigold, Monkshood, Meadow Saffron, Mistletoe, St. Johns Wort, Leyland Cypress, Fools Parsley, Hellebore, Dahlias, Lupins, Chrysanthemums, Delphinium, Lilly of the Valley, Tulips, Iris, Morning Glory, Lobelia, Fig, Juniper, Hyacinth, Privet, Yew, Laburnum, Ivy, Rhododendron, Wisteria, Clematis, Lettuce.