Unless you are planning on breeding your guinea pig or rabbit, keeping males and females together is not essential. In many cases if you keep two males together, there can be fights and injuries so these pets are best kept as individuals or if you want two pets, consider keeping two females. A sturdy hutch or indoor enclosure will keep your pet safe from predators so this brings us back to the need for protection as the reason for keeping more than one of these pets.
As domestic rabbits and guinea pigs have been in the captive environment for many generations, they have come to accept the companionship of humans as well as other members of their species. With a little patience and some treats, your pet rabbit or guinea pig will quickly recognise you and will come to you when you open the cage. If you can find at least 20 minutes a day to play and handle your small animal, you will find that this is adequate for them, however, the more time you spend with them the tamer they become.
Like many dogs and cats, guinea pigs and rabbits enjoy being groomed and this is an excellent opportunity to interact with your pet. Regular grooming provides the opportunity for you to check their coat for signs of fleas or mites. Fleas are a carrier of Rabbit Calicivirus Disease (RCD), a fatal disease in rabbits, so ensuring that they remain flea free is very important as well as having them vaccinated against this. Both guinea pigs and rabbits can catch sarcoptic mange, which is often spread by foxes and wombats. Signs of mange are hair loss, flaky dry or cracked skin and constant scratching by your pet. If you suspect that your pet has mange it can be easily treated using mite and mange spray.
If you are concerned about handling your rabbit or guinea pig outside the cage or if you have small children, you could consider placing your pet in a harness. Guinea pigs and rabbits quickly adapt to wearing a harness and when fitted correctly your pet can be kept comfortably in reach. If you don’t have a large hutch, it is worth considering the purchase of a mobile run. These can be moved about the lawn and are made up of a series of panels that fold up flat when not in use. They are great for providing your pet with greater freedom of movement and if you have children, they can sit inside the run and play with their pet without the worry of it escaping.
Rabbits and guinea pigs to a lesser extent can be toilet trained so you could consider letting them come in the house with the family! Of course make sure they cannot access cables or wires and ensure that other pets such as dogs or cats are kept a safe distance from them.
So if you can find some time each day to spend with your pet, they will reward you with many years of happiness.
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