Credit: Scott J. Stahl, DVM, DABVP


Cage:Minimum of a 1x 3 foot enclosure with a secure top for each pet. Cage bottom should be solid - not screen mesh.

Substrate:Bedding should consist of a paper pulp product (like Carefresh or Yesterdays News), newspaper or computer paper.

Hide box:Hiding areas such as cardboard boxes, paper towel rolls and tissue boxes should be provided.

Wheel: A running wheel of appropriate size should be provided for exercise.

Cagemates:House rodents individually because most species will fight with one another – even if they are the same sex. The only exception is gerbils, you can house same sex pairs together if you watch their behavior closely to be sure that they will not fight/injure eachother.


Lab or rodent blocks:Should be offered “free-choice”.

Treats:May include small pieces of vegetables, fruit, unsweetened cereal and hay. Seeds and treat sticks are not recommended as part of the diet because they are high in fat and low in protein and calcium.

Water:Should be offered in a sipper bottle or a spill-proof bowl and should be changed daily. Clean bowls/sippers every couple of days in the dishwasher or soak them in 1:30 bleach to water solution.


Always use two hands and be very gentle. Try to avoid exposing them to excessive noise, excitement and over handling. If children are handling the rodent, have the child sit on the floor and hold it in their lap. Only allow them to handle the pet with adult supervision!!!


Always have an initial physical exam performed on any newly acquired pet. During the exam the doctor will check the incisor teeth, eyes, ears, heart, lungs and abdomen. The doctor will also check the hair and the skin for external parasites. It is recommended to have your rodent return to the vet once a year for a physical exam.


Malocclusion of Incisor Teeth:This condition occurs when the front (incisor) teeth do not meet properly and grow too long for the animal to eat. Regular trimming of the incisor teeth may be necessary so that the animal does not lose weight.

Lice and Mites:Lice and mites are very common skin parasites in newly acquired rodents and mites can become a problem in geriatric rodents. Symptoms may include itchy and/or red skin, hair loss and irritability. Treatment for both lice and mites may include injections and/or a topical medication.

Upper respiratory infection/Pneumonia:Symptoms may include labored and/or rapid breathing, discharge from eyes and nostrils, lethargy, inappetence, sneezing and/or coughing. It is commonly seen in newly acquired rodents. If your rodent is exhibiting any of these symptoms, have a vet examine it immediately. Pneumonia develops Rapidly and can lead to death.

Wet tail: Wet tail is a condition of newly acquired hamsters that are 7-10 weeks of age. It is a very serious condition caused by stress and death can occur 24-48 hours after the onset of symptoms. If you notice diarrhea and that your hamster has wet fur around the rectum, immediate veterinary care is required. Other symptoms include inappetance, poor coat condition and lethargy.

pdfGerbil, Hamster, Mouse Husbandry.pdf65.3 KB

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