When you think about small mammal pets like rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs and hamsters, you usually don’t think about them being at risk of getting hurt at home. However, if you have one of these pets, there are home hazards you should be aware of.
These small creatures are very clever and curious, and capable of getting into things they shouldn’t. Here are some things you should be aware of.
Electric cords—so fun to chew, and so dangerous!
When your small pet chews on wires, they are likely to develop zinc poisoning which can lead to gastrointestinal upset, blood disturbances and even death. Some wires also contain copper, which can also be lethal. Live electrical wires offer the added danger of electrocution and instant death, and at the very least, severe oral burns. Keep all wires and cords safely secured or hidden so your pet can not access them.
Many construction materials used in building homes, including paint, linoleum and dry wall, may contain lead. Baseboards and floor edges can be tempting for small animals to chew on, but it can also be deadly, if the substances they’re chewing on contain lead. Keep pets away from chipping paint and other potentially lead-containing substances, as even a few bites of these materials can be lethal for smaller pets.
Some small animals are extremely sensitive to temperature. For example, rabbits have thick, dense coats and cannot sweat. They get severely overheated at temperatures above 80 degrees, and can die. 80 degrees isn’t even considered extreme heat, so it’s important to be aware of the temperature and ensure your pet is comfortable. On the other hand, at temperatures below 70 degrees, hedgehogs enter a state of hibernation. Their heart rate slows and they become more susceptible to illness and even death if they remain at that temperature. It’s critical that your pet’s environment is kept in the temperature range that’s optimal for them.
The food that we eat can be extremely toxic to small animals. Garlic, onions, food containing seeds, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine and grapes are just a few of the foods they should never be given.
Things like human medications and household cleaning products should always be kept out of reach of all pets.