As long as they have been bred properly and have received the right care from their owners, pet rodents are not known to bite and even when they do, there are things that you can do to avoid it and strengthen your relationship with them. Our article will explore this issue and more, and it will also help you learn how to care for your new pet, get the right gerbil wheel, and other toys and accessories for pet rodents.
Do pet rodents bite?
Pet rodents, whether we are talking about hamsters, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs or rats, are usually very peaceful and won’t bite a human unless threatened. We’ve looked at numerous reports from pet parents who have owned rodents and most of them have said that their pets don’t behave aggressively, much less bite.
As with anything, there are of course exceptions and an aggressive pet may bite if it has been brought from an abusive pet owner or from a pet shop where it was treated badly. These cases are rare, but if you do get such a pet, as long as you show it the love it did not receive growing up, it is still possible to make it less aggressive.
Pet rodents can also begin to bite if they are not feeling well. Take, for example, a hamster which has a cut or a scrape – if you accidentally touch it in that area, the pain you inflict will make it bite you. These are extreme cases since most of the time when rodents feel uncomfortable or threatened they will begin to bite the air to warn you that you need to back off.
If you do begin to notice that your pet has become more aggressive, the best solution is to call your veterinarian since in most situations the cause is due to either stress or an undiagnosed health problem that makes the rodent feel uncomfortable.
It is also important to make a distinction between biting and nibbling since nibbling is a normal and natural behavior for most pet rodents, just as licking is. These are grooming behaviors that rodents like to do to each other, and if they begin to do it to you as well, it is a very good sign, not something to make you fearful.
When pet rodents begin to nibble you, it means that they are curious and that they feel very comfortable around you, so much so that they think of you as family. Nibbling can be confused with biting but it won’t hurt you at all, at the most it will make you giggle a bit depending on the area that your pet nibbles on.
Handling a pet so that it does not bite
Any pet can bite you if you are not handling it right, and the same is true for rodents as well. It is important to be aware of how to handle your small rodent properly be it a hamster, mouse, gerbil, guinea pig, or rat.
The most important tip when handling rodents is never to try and force them to do something, you should let them take the first steps. You need to handle them gently and softly by cupping your hands below them so that they can feel comfortable. Compared to their small bodies we are giants, and it is completely normal for them to feel scared at first.
Even if a pet is used to handling, a new person will still make it feel nervous, so don’t feel discouraged if at first, the rodent might seem to be very scared of you. Squeaking is a universal sign that rodents are scared, and in such a situation it is best to try again later.
The secret here is to be very patient and go as slow as you can with them. You can try to let them come to your hands first and let them smell you and nibble a bit on your skin. After that, you can try to hold them and pet them a bit. It is normal for them to feel very nervous at the beginning but with time they will get used to you and you will become best friends.
Another important tip to prevent biting is not to feed your pets through the cage bars. Many pet owners tend to do this, and once they start the pets will tend to nib anything that comes through the bars thinking that it is food. When the owner will poke his or her fingers through the cage, the rodent will think it is food and bite it.
It is best to give food in a bowl and leave it in their cage, or you can even try hiding some of it around their habitat since rodents love to search for food. If you want to give them some treats, you can use this as an opportunity to teach them to come to you. You can call or make a noise and when they come to you, you can give them the treat.
Choosing the right pet rodent
While it is normal to want a cute little pet, you do need to take the time and consider which type of rodent will be a good fit for your family. The choices you have are hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, and guinea pigs and they are all affectionate animals that don’t bite unless provoked.
The most common pet hamsters are the Syrian or golden hamsters, but there are other species available such as the albino hamsters. These rodents should be housed alone since if they are housed in groups or pairs they will tend to fight one another.
Gerbils are similar in size to hamsters but are more active and social. They are happier when housed as a pair or in a small group. You will need to take the time to see if your state allows purchasing and keeping gerbils since these pets are not allowed in certain places.
Mice are very tame and entertaining, but they are also more nervous than gerbils and hamsters. Males tend to be aggressive against each other but females do very well in small groups or pairs.
Rats are larger and easier to handle than some of the other rodents and contrary to their reputation, they are very tame and they don’t bite. They can become strongly bonded to their owners and are very affectionate. They come in a variety of colors, require a larger cage, and will need more attention than smaller rodents.
The largest rodents that you can keep as a pet are guinea pigs and their size and gentle temperament make them one of the most popular pets nowadays. They are very friendly, do well in same-sex groups or pairs but they tend to be more vocal than other rodents.
Characteristics of pet rodents
If you are considering getting a rodent as a pet, you will need to be aware of some of the characteristics that make them different from other choices such as cats and dogs. Rodents have an average life span of 2-3 years for gerbils and hamsters, 2-4 years for rats, 1-3 years for mice, and 5-7 years for guinea pigs.
These pets will also need a special cage and it is important to get the right one since what you can find in pet shows are usually too small to give your rodent a good quality of life. The cage should be large enough to give the rodent enough room to move around and exercise.
Rodents are true escape artists and this is why cages need to be equipped with secure latches. Toys will also be required, and depending on the type of pet that you wish to get, you will find numerous options at your favorite physical or online shop.
Due to the limited space that a cage offers, no matter its size, a wheel for your furry pals to exercise on is mandatory.
You will also need to take the time and educate yourself about the dietary needs that each species of rodents has since guinea pigs, for example, require more fresh hay and vegetables than hamsters do. If in doubt, you can speak with your veterinarian since this way you can be certain that you get the best and latest tips and tricks about how to care for your new pet.