Making a Home for Your Small Animal

Getting a small animal as a pet? Do you have its new home picked out yet? Your new animal will already be nervous, and being prepared in advance will ease the transition. Having the cage and all the accessories in order before purchasing your new pet will be helpful.

Starter kits are nice for new small animal owners. They come complete with all the essential items you'll need to make your pet's house his home, and are a good value. But if you'd like to pick out all of your own accessories, then the best place to start is by deciding how you will house your pet.

Metal/Wire Cages

Advantages -- These cages come in both small tabletop models and larger models with legs. They are durable and chew resistant. Some have wire or slotted-bar bottoms so waste can drop to a catch-tray for easy clean-up. Most have bars for the animal to climb on. These cages also allow air to circulate more freely.

Disadvantages -- Metal will get very cold or very hot depending on the temperature it is exposed to. Metal cages with wire bottoms are also not suitable for some small animals whose tiny feet could get caught in the wire. Also, litter and food tend to scatter as the animal burrows and moves around the cage. The combination of a wire cage with a deep plastic base reduces the amount of litter and food that is scattered.

Glass Aquariums

Advantages -- These homes allow for an unrestricted view of the pet. There is also the added advantage of no litter being kicked out.

Disadvantages -- A screened lid will need to be purchased to prevent the animal from escaping and to protect it from other animals that may try to get in. There is also a possible lack of ventilation. If the aquarium is too deep, the animal may become ill due to an insufficient air supply. All-glass cages can create a "greenhouse" effect, with temperatures inside the cage being warmer than outside. Water could also condense inside the glass walls creating high humidity, which can be deadly to hamsters.

Plastic Cage Systems

Advantages -- Plastic kit cages allow for additional pieces to be added. Additional cage space can be obtained by adding more pipes and cages. These are easy to clean and make it more enjoyable to watch the animals.

Disadvantages -- There could be some expense involved for those customers that want to keep building bigger and bigger habitats for their pet. There could also be a problem with poor air circulation.

Wooden Hutches

Rabbits are the only animals well-suited to use wooden hutches. Care should be taken when selecting a wooden hutch since the quality of the home can greatly effect the health and wellbeing of your rabbit. Some wood, such as particleboard or plywood, contains glues that are very toxic to small animals.

The same goes for wood that has been painted, which may contain lead. A well made hutch will have sides and bottom made of wire with the roof, back and frame made of wood. This makes the hutch ventilated and easy to clean. A metal pan under the wire floor catches droppings and allows for an easier clean up. Since most hutches are placed outdoors it's important to understand that the wood and wire construction helps maintain a constant temperature because wood does not hang on to either the heat or cold.

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