Choosing Your New Small Pet
Top tips for choosing a small pet!
Small pets encompasses a range of species, including Guinea-pigs, hamsters, gerbils, degus, rats and chinchillas. While these may have similarities, in terms of being easier to care for than some other pets, they are actually a diverse group and different small pets may fit into different households.
More about choosing your new small pet
Although a vet check is recommended for all new pets, you should also have a check over of your potential new family member before you bring them home to make sure you can’t spot any warning signs of them being unhealthy or poorly handled. It is also worth checking with wherever you get your pet(s) from to see if they have had any screening vet checks, as well as any health concerns, in the past.
- Handle them yourself. Pets who have been regularly handled since birth should be already quite tame, although they may be more nervous with a new person, especially in flighty species. Pets should seem aware of their surroundings.
- Coat. Pets should have a clean coat, with no dirty patches or matted areas, and have no sores or scabs. Make sure to check they are clean around their bottom and on their front legs bottom trouble can indicate diarrhoea, and matted fur on the front legs can mean they have been wiping a runny nose!
- Ears. Ears should be clean, with no redness, dirt or scratches.;
- Eyes. Eyes should be bright, with no overflowing tears or build-up of discharge in the corners.
- Nose. Nose should be clean and dry, a runny nose can indicate an infection and can be difficult to manage.
- Teeth. The teeth should not be over-long, and eating shouldn't appear difficult.
- Movement. Pets should be able to move freely, with no limping, or obvious swellings on legs, feet or toes.
As exciting and a time as getting a new small pet is, it is important to remember that getting a new pet is a transaction, and you need to make sure everything is above board. This means exchanging paperwork which, while not very glamorous, is the best way to protect you and the pet shop, breeder or rescue centre if there are any problems.
Here are some of the paperwork items you might want for your new small pet:
- Vet check certification. Your pet may have had a vet check before you bring them home. If they have, the breeder or pet shop should have a printout of the notes or be able to tell you where they are registered and make sure you can continue their care.
- A receipt. Just like any monetary exchange, it is best to have documentation of the money you have paid, signed by both you and the seller. If you get a pet from a rescue centre or pet shop, you should receive a receipt for any fees paid just as you normally would.
- An agreement. Anything you agree verbally with the breeder, rescue centre, previous owner or pet shop should be documented and signed. This includes if they have agreed to take the pet back if there are any problems, and any other commitments either of you have made.