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[Lovebirds] [Hamsters, Gerbils]
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Sugar Gliders, Pygmy Possums]
[Tarantulas, Scorpions, Hermit Crabs]
Hamsters and Gerbils...
Sometimes, it may be impractical or impossible for you to have a dog, cat, or larger pet: An apartment may be too small or may prohibit keeping such a pet, there may be allergies to consider, or it might simply be too much of a responsibility. There are alternatives, however, and pet expert Marc Morrone has several suggestions.
Hamsters and gerbils have gentle temperaments and are available in a variety of colors with different coat lengths. They can be housed in a ten-gallon glass aquarium with a mesh top, which should be secured with spring clips. Use a layer of Aspen-wood bedding or pine shavings on the bottom of the cage (gerbils and hamsters can develop skin irritations from cedar shavings), and clean and wash it once a week. You will also need a water bottle with a holder, a food dish, an exercise wheel, and a wooden chew block to keep their incisors worn down. Diets for gerbils and hamsters are simple: Use a high-quality seed-and-pellet mix formulated especially for rodents, add a vitamin supplement to their water, and offer them cut-up vegetables and nuts.
Hamsters should be kept singly, although same-sex siblings from a common litter will be able to get along. Gerbils prefer to live in pairs; they are monogamous, and a male will aid the female in raising their young. Try to find young animals that have just recently been weaned from their mothers, as they will be easier to bond with. When you first acquire your hamster or gerbil, use a coffee cup to scoop them up and gently stroke them; this prevents the animal from scurrying away and allows you to build up trust. After you and your pet gain a little confidence, you can tip it out of the cup and into your hand.
The downside of owning a hamster or gerbil is that it has a short life span--only about three years. But following these guidelines will ensure that your pet lives in health and comfort.