Guinea pigs and hamsters are comparatively small, but they still need plenty of room to run around - more than most would assume.
Animal welfare campaigners say rodent pets like hamsters and guinea pigs are typically sold with or kept in cages or enclosures that are simply far too small.
“This is very common, and it’s really not good for these species, ” says Daniela Rickert from Germany’s Veterinary Association for Animal Welfare (tvt). “As a rule, commercial enclosures are always too small, ” says Rickert.
Since the enclosures your local pet shop will offer you are likely too small, there is only one thing you can do as a pet owner, says Rickert. “Really, you should build your own.”
For keeping two to four guinea pigs, for example, she recommends a floor space of at least 2sq m, while other animal welfare experts say even more. For each additional animal, the area must be increased by at least 0.5sq m.
Rodents have a strong need for movement and are eager to constantly discover something new, so they need space and playful stimuli such as running wheels, tree hollows or other hiding places.
Your pet shop should be advising you to bring your gerbils or chinchillas home to a setting that is species-appropriate.
People who buy these kinds of animals on impulse are also often completely uninformed about the needs of their new pets, she says. – dpa