Taking care of your bird, reptile or small mammal
In the domestic animal kingdom, cats and dogs are certainly, if not kings, at least predominant. However, they aren’t the only animals that humans choose as companions. Birds, small mammals and reptiles take up residence in many a household. If yours is one of them, do you really know what your canary needs, for example? What about your hamster or iguana? Have you set up the right conditions for their optimal health? What do you feed them?
One day, you may notice that your exotic little friend isn’t as energetic as before and they may have lost their appetite. Could it be they've caught a cold? Did they eat something that didn’t agree with them? According Dr. Évelyne Joubert, from the Le Gardeur Veterinary Hospital, the main problem that she sees when people consult her about their small “exotic” animal (as they’re often called), is a lack of information. “Owners want to and think they are doing everything they can, but 85%, if not more, of those I consult with make fundamental mistakes about diet and environment.
She goes on to cite typical and numerous examples. Here are just a few:
Rabbits and guinea pigs. They both need hay and plenty of it. It is absolutely essential for their health. The same goes for vegetables, such as carrots. Yet many people provide nothing but animal feed for their rabbits and guinea pigs, when in fact, they should only have a little. If your pet refuses hay, it might simply be because they don’t like it! But don’t worry… you don’t have to trek to the country to find a kind they like! Your vet can provide you with an excellent quality product.
Birds. Contrary to popular belief, birds don’t just eat seeds! “People will often go to the pet store, buy a bird, a cage, a drinking trough, and a bag of seeds, and then head home, thinking they’ve got everything they need.”, says Dr. Joubert. But she reminds us that in nature, birds spend 80% of their time looking for a variety of food. Sometimes, birds like parrots will pluck the feathers from their chests or develop other quirks. The reason could be medical, but it could also be behavioural. In fact, it may be a sign of chronic boredom. “This could be a bird that isn’t stimulated enough with toys or activities that force it to search for its food!”.
Iguanas and other reptiles. Your small lizard loves heat. They won’t “bake” in the sun, but they will need a lot of hydration. According to Dr. Joubert, dehydration and supervision mistakes probably represent 95% of the problems faced by reptiles in captivity. Terrarium temperature and humidity conditions are often inadequate. “Every reptile has its preferred temperature, Dr. Joubert continues, “We need to ensure that the owner keeps the temperature and humidity of the terrarium at levels suitable for the species. Some reptiles live in desert environments, other in tropical areas. All of this has to be taken into account.” What’s more, bad nutrition often gets added to the mix and can cause problems such as immunosuppression that can lead to infections. And then the domino effect takes over!
Small animals make adorable pets, but as with all domesticated animals, they need you to know everything there is know so that they can live well for many years to come.
Your vet is an expert in the wellbeing and health of your pet. Don’t hesitate to consult with them.
To know more about exotic animals before you decide to bring one into your home, we recommend visiting this site: www.animauxexotiques.com