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Small Mammals

  • Encephalitozoonsis is a parasitic infection that can affect the kidneys, eyes, and nervous systems of rabbits. Many infected rabbits do not develop clinical signs until they are older or if they become stressed or immunocompromised. Common signs that may develop include heavy white plaques/growths inside one or both eyes, head tilt, eye twitching, and tremors or seizures. Treatments are available, though not all rabbits respond.

  • Enrofloxacin is an antibiotic given by mouth or in the muscle commonly used to treat bacterial infections in cats, dogs, and off label in small mammals, birds, and reptiles. Common side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite. It should not be used in growing or dehydrated pets, or in cats with kidney disease. Use cautiously in pets with seizures, liver, or kidney disease. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Ferrets are true carnivores and cannot handle a diet containing more than 4% fiber. There are several good commercial ferret foods available that are dry foods. Ferrets have a very quick gut transit time (the time from eating to defecating) of three to four hours, so they appear to eat and defecate constantly. Fresh water should be available all the time.

  • The preferred basic diet for guinea pigs is unlimited amounts of Timothy or other low-calcium hay, supplemented with smaller amounts of a commercial, high-fiber, Timothy-hay based guinea pig pellets. The diet should be supplemented with a variety of fresh, well-washed, leafy greens or colored vegetables; especially those high in vitamin C. Guinea pigs cannot manufacture their own vitamin C, therefore it is important that guinea pigs receive a vitamin C tablet or liquid vitamin C directly by mouth every day. Provide fresh clean water in a sipper bottle and check the tube for blockages each day.

  • All pet rodents must be fed a good, high quality rodent chow available at pet stores. Many veterinarians also recommend offering hay and fresh vegetables to rodents to encourage chewing and the wearing down of their continuously growing teeth. Diets containing seeds and nuts are not recommended, as they are high in fat and low in nutrition. Water may be offered in a bowl or in a sipper bottle. Seeds, nuts, pasta, unsalted popcorn, or a whole grain cracker can be offered as occasional treats. You can also feed your rodent fresh, well-cleaned vegetables daily and occasionally give a small amount of fruit. Unlike most pets, guinea pigs do not make their own vitamin C and should be fed a commercial high fiber guinea pig pellet with added vitamin C. Chew toys made from hard wood are commercially available in pet stores for rodents and should be offered to help prevent overgrowth of the incisors.

  • Rabbits are herbivores and are considered grazers. Rabbits should have a daily diet of mostly hay, a smaller amount of fresh vegetables, and a limited number of pellets. Hay is the most important part of a rabbit's daily intake. A common cause of obesity and soft stool is over-feeding pellets. Rabbits should be fed and provided with fresh water daily; hay should be available at all times. A pet rabbit’s diet should be supplemented with a variety of leafy green vegetables every day. The high sugar content in fruits (and even carrots) may upset the normal GI tract bacteria if given in excess. Rabbits engage in coprophagy, which means they eat their own feces at night. These fecal pellets are called cecotropes and serve as a rich source of nutrients, specifically protein and vitamins B and K.

  • Ferrets are commonly affected by ear mite infestations. Many ferrets show no symptoms of infestation but you may notice your ferret shaking her head or scratching herself. Treatment for ear mites must be done under the guidance of a veterinarian familiar with ferrets.

  • Due to their well-deserved reputation as escape artists, ferrets should be housed in a cage that can be securely closed and/or locked. They also need a safe, "ferret-proofed" play area or room where they can explore and investigate while supervised.

  • There are several common diseases or conditions that may affect the pet ferret. Like dogs, ferrets may get heartworms, distemper virus, heat stroke and a variety of cancerous conditions. Yearly veterinary health examinations are recommended to assess the presence or absence of any of the diseases listed above.

  • Mast cell tumors are one of the most common skin tumors in ferrets. These tumors are typically a small, raised growth on the skin that erupts, may bleed, then heal only to reoccur several weeks later in the same location. Unlike mast cell tumors in dogs, mast cell tumors in ferrets do not spread to internal organs.