Two of a Kind
Rabbits reign supreme in the small-animal world, ranking number one in popularity among pet owners, while guinea pigs rank third. However, there are many similarities in the care of
these two species. Since the lifestyles of these animals are similar, they have many of the same needs for products and supplies.
Rabbits and guinea pigs are both herbivores, and their main diet should be a grass hay to make sure they have enough fiber in their diet to keep their digestive tracts functioning normally.
Without enough hay in their diet, their molars can overgrow, causing pain and difficulty eating, and their intestines can become impacted. Timothy hay is the type most commonly sold for these animals to eat, but other grass hays work as well. Alfalfa hay is too high in protein and calcium to be fed on a
regular basis, but it can be offered in small amounts as a treat.
Rabbits and guinea pigs require species-specific food pellets, including one with added vitamin C for guinea pigs. However, both animals require similar feeding accessories. The best way to offer food pellets is in a food hopper or dish attached to the side of the cage. Attaching the
hopper or bowl to the cage prevents the animals from tipping the container over, and helps keep the pets from sitting in a dish and soiling the food.
Even though guinea pig food pellets include vitamin C, guinea pig owners should also buy vitamin C tablets to feed their pets by hand. Not only does this ensure the piggies get optimal nutrition, it encourages bonding between pigs and owners. My guinea pigs always felt that getting their vitamin C tablet was one of the highlights of their day.
Rabbits are burrowing animals and inherit from their wild ancestors the instinct to use one area of their habitat as a toilet. This makes rabbits easy to litter-box train, and every rabbit habitat should
include at least one litter box. Although guinea pigs do not have this same instinct, some may consistently use one corner as a bathroom. In this case, a corner litter pan can be placed there to make cage cleaning easier.
Both guinea pigs and rabbits need a bed or house to sleep and hide in. Wooden houses and plastic huts are traditionally marketed for these animals, but they also enjoy cozy fabric beds,
especially those lined with fake sheepskin. Amazingly, most of these animals will not chew on the fabric. However, owners should avoid any products that contain foam for these animals, because ingesting the foam can cause a fatal blockage.
Both rabbits and guinea pigs, especially long-haired breeds, need to be brushed on a regular basis. For some long-haired varieties, a comb will work better than a brush. Generally, the longer the hair, the more spaceshould be between the tines of the comb or bristles of the brush.
Brushes with tightly packed bristles are only suitable for animals with very short, dense coats, and therefore, they are not suitable for rabbits or guinea pigs. A grooming tool kit for rabbits and
guinea pigs should also include toenail clippers.
Guinea pigs occasionally need a bath, so owners should use a shampoo specifically for guinea pigs if possible, or at least one for small animals. Rabbits generally do not need to be bathed, both because of the density of their fur, and because they do a better job of grooming themselves. However, while grooming themselves, they can ingest large quantities of fur, resulting in hairballs in their stomach. If rabbits have enough fiber in their diet from grass hay, in most cases, the
ingested hair will be swept through the digestive tract by the hay. But retailers should also carry hairball remedy products that pet owners can use to help prevent problems.
Rabbits tend to be active animals that need to stretch their legs and have the opportunity to kick up their heels once in a while. It is becoming more popular for owners of house rabbits to give their pets the chance to runaround the house. Even guinea pigs are much more active than you might
think and love to run around, following each other like cars in a train.
Letting guinea pigs run around the house is more problematic as, unlike rabbits, most of them tend not to use a litter box. Therefore, it is more practical for guinea pig owners to use an exercise
by Debbie Ducommun December 29, 2014
Debbie Ducommun has a B.A. in animal behavior and has worked in the animal field since 1982. She is the author of the book Rats!, the booklet Rat Health Care and, her most recent book, The Complete Guide to Rat Training: Tricks and Games for Rat Fun and Fitness.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Saturday, December 13, 2014
"Fresh Eggs Daily" is author Lisa Steele's guide to raising healthy chickens naturally, which includes feeding them a diet of herbs, flowers, and greens.
Cover Courtesy St. Lynn's Press
Learn to treat your flock to a diet rich in a variety of herbs, greens, and flowers with Fresh Eggs Daily (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013). Lisa Steele offers dozens of simple, intelligent, and easy green tips for “going natural” that help you avoid common ailments that plague many backyard flocks. This excerpt from “In the Winter” features two recipes for refreshing and cleaning a chicken coop.
You can purchase this book from the Capper’s Farmer store: Fresh Eggs Daily.
Refresh a Dirty Chicken Coop with these Easy Green TipsI have developed an all-natural refreshing spray for chicken coops that combines the rodent-repelling and insecticide properties of mint with soothing lavender in a white vinegar base (for both disinfecting and antibacterial qualities). Easy and inexpensive to make, a bottle stored in your coop and used any time your coop needs a bit of a refresh will help keep your coop sanitized and rodent free.
Monday, December 8, 2014
Introducing KittyNest: Brilliant Use of Materials
Here’s a brand new concept in modern cat furniture, and I have one word — BRILLIANT! It’s from the designers at Paper Lion, a new company making modern, eco-friendly cat products. This is one of the most innovative uses of material I’ve seen in the cat product industry.
The KittyNest appears to be made from a honeycomb paper material that looks like something cats would completely love. Because of the flexible nature of the material, this took some really creative thinking to make it work for cats. By stretching the honeycomb material over a wire frame, you create a beautiful piece of cat furniture that serves as a lounge, hideaway and scratcher. It’s so simple and so elegant. Plus, when kitty has had her way with it, all the parts of the KittyNest can be easily recycled.
The KittyNest just completed a successful Indie Gogo fundraising campaign and they hope to be in production by the end of the year.