Educational Articles

Small Mammals + Pet Services

  • Moxidectin is an avermectin antiparasitic that is used to prevent heartworms and treat intestinal parasites. Imidacloprid treats and prevents fleas. These two drugs are combined in one topical product for use in cats, dogs, and ferrets. Use as directed. Side effects are uncommon and usually short-lived, however, if you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately.

  • There are many health and behavioral benefits associated with neutering your rabbit, such as preventing unwanted pregnancies, eliminating his risk for testicular cancer, and minimizing the stress associated with sexual frustration. This handout explains the neuter procedure, post-operative care at home, and, although rare, possible complications that could occur.

  • Neutering is also referred to as orchidectomy or castration. It is a surgical procedure in which the testicles are removed in order to sterilize or render a male animal infertile.

  • Many owners of rodents, sugar gliders, and hedgehogs are surprised to learn that all pets need an initial examination by a veterinarian and at least an annual check-up. Many veterinarians who treat exotic small animals recommend check-ups at least twice a year to allow for early detection and treatment of potentially life-threatening diseases. During this visit, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and various diagnostic tests, such as blood work, fecal analysis, microbial testing, and X-rays, to determine your pet's state of health and to see if your pet might be harboring any diseases that require treatment.

  • Ferrets are generally good-natured, inquisitive, playful animals that enjoy the company of humans. They can make great pets! This handout provides some basic facts about ferrets and what you need to know about keeping one as a pet.

  • Gerbils generally make good family pets but should never be left unsupervised with small children. If well-socialized from a young age and treated gently, they can be wonderful pets. They tend to scurry and scamper about, making them challenging to hold. Therefore, children should be older than 10 years of age before getting a pet gerbil, as children younger than this will have difficulty restraining them. The incisors (front teeth) of all rodents grow continuously throughout the animal's life. When they are excited or frightened, gerbils will thump their back feet – a behavior called foot-drumming. Gerbils do not require vaccines, but they do require annual examinations.

  • If well socialized from a young age and treated gently, hamsters are generally slow moving, reasonably easy to handle, and affectionate. Hamsters generally make good family pets but should never be left unsupervised with small children. Hamsters may bite if restrained forcefully or frightened while being held. Hamsters live, on average, 18 to 24 months (some may reach 36 months). They have large cheek pouches which they can fill with bedding material or large amounts of food that they then carry off to deposit in a corner to use or consume later. The incisors (front teeth) of all rodents grow continuously throughout the pet's life. Hamsters have a hip or flank gland on their sides, and female hamsters produce a profuse vaginal discharge around the time of ovulation. Hamsters require annual physical examinations and fecal tests for parasites.

  • Rats are extremely intelligent, inquisitive, interactive, and social. If well socialized from a young age and treated gently, they are easy to handle, affectionate, and rarely bite unless provoked. Rats generally make good family pets but should never be left unsupervised with small children. Rats live about 2 to 3 years. The incisors (front teeth) of all rodents grow continuously throughout the pet's life. Rats should be examined by a veterinarian at least once a year and twice a year as they get older.

  • Prairie dogs (most often black-tailed prairie dogs) are becoming popular as pets. Like all rodents, they have teeth that continually grow throughout life. They are active, playful and sturdy rodents and can make wonderful, affectionate pets if purchased young, socialized properly and given lots of attention.

  • If properly handled and socialized, rabbits make curious, sociable, pleasant, docile, quiet, and gentle pets. They rarely bite but can scratch with their sharp claws and powerful hind legs if improperly handled. If held improperly, a rabbit can kick hard and dislocate or break its back, resulting in severe chronic disabilities that may even necessitate euthanasia. Their average life span is 5-8 years old (small breeds can reach 10-14 years old), and they reach breeding age at 6 months. Rabbits pass cecotropes at night which are softer, stickier, and darker than normal fecal pellets and contain important nutrients. Providing your rabbit with unlimited amounts of hay and blocks of wood to chew helps prevent overgrown teeth, a common condition in pet rabbits.