Describe how a chinchilla should be housed?
Can be kept in any numbers or alone - neuter both sexes.
Describe the cage of a chinchilla
Minimum space of 2m^2
Some of the bottom of the cage should be wire to prevent the build up of moisture.
(Plastic is toxic)
Plenty of deep litter
Dust bath (controlled access)- keeps fur in good condition
Optimal temp 10-15 degrees.
Ramps, drainpipes to hide in, branches to chew etc
How should rats and mice be kept?
Rats may be housed in single sex groups or mixed groups (neuter males)
Mice are better kept in single sex groups, however males will fight (difficult to neuter mice!)
Describe the ideal cage of a rat/mouse?
Escape proof! Chew-proof and easily cleaned. As big as possible Solid bottom to prevent trauma to limbs Wire mesh top to maintain ventilation and prevent ammonia build up (can cause respiratory disease) Clean, dry substrate deep enough for burrowing. Nesting materials Toys Optimal Temp = 15-17 degrees
How often should a rat or mice cage be cleaned?
Twice weekly at least
How should hamsters be kept?
Tend to be better on their own. Some hamsters can be kept in groups e.g. small Russian hamsters.
Describe the cage of a hamster
Solid plastic walls (avoids climbing injuries)
Tunnels for exploration and privacy
Wheels - must be solid floored
Substrate - peat or sawdust or shredded paper
Ceramic food bowl prevents gnawing
Monitored silver sand baths can be given.
What is the ideal temp a hamster should be kept?
Below 5/6 degrees will trigger hibernation
Above 29 degrees will cause heat stress
What materials should be avoided when housing hamsters?
Newspaper as print is toxic
Cotton wool as can block pouches or be ingested
Hay as wisps may entangle limbs
How often should gerbils be cleaned?
As they are desert rodents, they don’t urinate a lot. Therefore don’t require as much cleaning.
How should gerbils be housed?
Can be singly, female pair or mixed pair (difficult to neuter - consider ethics)
Males paired together will fight
Describe the ideal gerbil cage
Solid floor (plastic or metal)
Deep shavings (ideally 10-15cm) with tubes through it for enrichment
Shredded paper for nesting areas
Silver sand bath
What should be avoided in a gerbil cage
Avoid peat or soil substrates as they can encourage damp which leads to poor quality, greasy and matted fur.
What is the ideal environmental temp and humidity for gerbils?
Around 20-25 degrees and low humidity (about 50%)
How should Jirds be housed?
Similar to gerbils but require a lot more space.
Females Should be housed separately due to female dominance.
How should ferrets be kept?
In pairs or groups
Females cooperate well, but males will fight (should neuter)
Describe a ferret enclosure?
Steel-bottomed wire mesh cage is ideal as easy to clean. Wooden cages can be used for inside but urine soak is too smelly for indoors.
Larger the space the better
Some sort of vertical space e.g. shelf
Substrate can be wood shavings, shredded paper, hay etc.
Nest box with 25% towel material.
Hard plastic tubing to explore/hide in.
What is the optimal temp for a ferret?
Can also withstand cold temperatures
What should be avoided in terms of toys for ferrets?
Hard toys and dog chews are desirable to maintain dental health.
What are the criteria for housing an exotic in the hospital environment
Away from dogs/cats/noise/people
Cage should be near to ground, easy to clean, gnaw-proof, escape-proof.
Discuss with owners about normal watering/toileting habits.
Kitchen roll makes a good substrate as sawdust can be hard to clean up - in litter tray also.
Shoreline kennels may be too noisy for small animals and may be stressed. Can use fibreglass or something else quiet
How should rabbits be kept?
Social animals so should be kept together - neuter to prevent babies. Males will fight
Guinea Pigs are not suitable companions! (will be bullied)
What is the optimal temperature for rabbits?
Over 25 degrees will predispose heat stress.
Describe the ideal rabbit house
Wood (as good insulator) with a waterproof coating on roof.
Provide chews to stop from chewing wood.
When in the cage, rabbit should be able to stretch out fully (vertically and horizontally) and be able to hop 3 times in a row and turn around without being hindered.
Spacious living area and enclosed nesting area, and separate toileting area
additional boxes and tubes for hiding
fruit tree branches for gnawing
bedding wood shavings or hay
provide opportunity to eat grass and hay ab lib
Water ab lib
Additional outdoor run - safe and secure
How often should rabbits be cleaned
At least once a week - toilet area maybe more frequently
Describe the ideal living conditions of a guinea pig
Similar to rabbits - require a moderate climate between 12 and 20 degrees - cage off floor -must be kept in groups -covered nesting area and living area Wood shavings and hay as bedding
Describe the ideal accommodation of a chipmunk
Large metal outdoor aviary
Branches and sleeping boxes
Floor covered with peat or woodchips to allow burrowing
Nest boxes lined with hay or straw
Extremely susceptible to stress - should be kept far away from TVs, radios etc
What species of reptile is not solitary?
Describe the ideal housing of a reptile
Space must be adequate to allow the animal to exhibit normal behaviours e.g. climbing and swimming
- Big enough for a lizard to stretch out and turn around; big enough for a snake to stretch out diagonally.
E.g. Lizard Enclosure: L100cm X W40cm x H50cm
Environment should mimic that of the wild where possible e.g. damp, sandy, wooded.
Vivarium that is half glass and half chipboard to supply added insulation.
Enough external heat so that animal can maintain its body temperature (20-25 degrees)- snakes have an optimal temperature zone for physiological processes.
Viv should have a temperature gradient
Hot spot (up to 40 degrees) should be provided by a ceramic bulb or infra red bulb.
Temperature should be controlled by a thermostat and be lowered to a minimum of 15 degrees at night.
Water heating should be considered when dealing with aquatic species.
Humidity maintained with regular spraying - measured using hygrometer. Rule of thumb:
Rainforest species need about 80%
Desert animals need about 30-40%
Drinking water should provided in heavy bowl
Hides should be provided for shelter and hiding
Check exact temperatures for species
Lighting should be on a timer providing 12hrs light and 12hrs dark.
UVB light required for synthesis of Vit D and must but provided in daytime active species. Light must be 30cm away from the animal.
Ventilation needed to prevent respiratory conditions - no draught tho!
Substrates can vary - avoid those that can cause respiratory conditions e.g. wood chips, gravel
Substrates should be digestible e.g. leaf litter or soil, shredded paper
Describe the ideal housing of a tortoise
Large, open topped with deep litter for digging and burrowing
Access to outside on nice days is preferable but need to be safe from predators
Tray of water provided that’s shallow enough to walk in, but deep enough to allow for partial head submission for drinking through nostrils.
Why should extra care be taken when handling or cleaning reptiles?
Carry salmonella - zoonotic disease
- causes enteritis and diarrhoea in humans but rarely causes any clinical symptoms in reptiles.
-salmonella shed in faeces when reptile is stressed; picked up through contact with infected food, water etc
-Gram -ve bacillus
- Use PPE and hand hygiene
Describe the complete cleaning routine of a reptile in a vivarium
Carry out regularly
Removed sloughed skin and uneaten food
Faeces and soiled substrate should be removed.
Newspaper should cleaned at least once a week
Calcium sand should only be cleaned once every 1-2months
Astroturf cleaned once a week
Food, bathing and water bowls should be cleaned daily.
Take everything out and disinfect everything, rinse and dry thoroughly before putting back in.
Can use a cotton bag to store snake when cleaning; tortoises and lizards can put into a spare cage ventilated plastic box; terrapins and amphibians can be put in a ventilated plastic box lined with plain damp kitchen towel
Describe a suitable disinfectant for cleaning reptiles
A 3% solution of household bleach - unscented
*must not have any phenols in the disinfectant - these are toxic to reptiles and amphibians.
What should be considered when cleaning/housing amphibians?
Be kept in a vivarium with bark chips as substrate
Warm and humid condition - ensure to remove any mould if seen
Remove all substrate once a month and clean vivarium. Rinse thoroughly with de-chlorinated water..
They are very sensitive to toxic chemicals - don’t use any cleaning sprays in the room.
Describe the ideal way to house avian species?
Outdoor aviary - large enough to stretch out wings
Bars small enough to prevent damage.
Secure and easy to clean
Perches wide enough with varying sizes - consider placement for food and water
Change environment regularly to avoid boredom
Safe, non-toxic toys
Bathing and spraying
Line cage with paper
Place in a constant, cool environment at eye level
Warm, quiet dimly lit.