March, 2019

March 22, 2019

The 411 on Chinchillas and Chinchilla Care

The 411 on Chinchillas and Chinchilla Care

In honor of National Chinchilla Day, we thought that we’d answer the top four questions asked on Google about chinchilla pet parentship and care! These soft and adorable animals make wonderful pets, but their husbandry differs greatly from that of fellow exotics such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and gerbils. Let’s learn more about chinchillas!

Are you on Instagram? Follow Oxbow and tag a photo of your chin!

Are Chinchillas a Good Pet to Have?

Absolutely! Chinchillas are energetic, curious, and intelligent animals. They may have a little too much energy to interact well with young children, but they are very friendly and can be perfect pets. Socializing chinchillas to human interaction at an early age is instrumental in making them happy and interactive.

Typically, chinchillas are most active at dawn and dusk (also knows as being crepuscular), which tends to fit in well with pet parent schedules. They do require proper amounts of exercise, enrichment and space to expend energy and stay healthy. Potential pet parents should strongly consider play yards and multi-level cages if possible to provide mental and physical stimulation.

How much money is a chinchilla?

The cost to purchase or adopt a chinchilla can vary greatly depending on their age, your location, and a variety of other factors. Typically, chinchillas can range from $75-$300 depending on where you adopt them from.

Before adopting or purchasing these adorable animals, please remember that chinchillas will need to see a veterinarian (preferably one that specializes in exotic mammals) at least once every year, plus the cost of food, enriching toys, hay-based accessories, dust for their baths, a large habitat and more.

Why can you not get a chinchilla wet?

Chinchillas have very dense fur and naturally oily skin. Due to this, water can wreak havoc on these small pets as their coats can take a long period of time to dry. In certain situations,  this can lead to fungal and bacterial infection as well respiratory disease and other issues.  There are some occasions though where bathing a specific area of chinchilla may be warranted - such as when urine or feces becomes matted in their coats, but caution should be taken.

Chinchillas should routinely have access to dust baths, instead. We at Oxbow offer a great Poof! Dust Bath that is made just for chins! Use Poof! [http://oxbowanimalhealth.com/our-products/accessories/poof-chinchilla-dust-bath] to bathe your chinchilla 2-4 times per week to remove excess oil and dirt as well as ensure the softness and healthy condition of his fur. For bathing, use an appropriate dust bath house or stable container which cannot be tipped over. Remove dust bath house from cage after 3-5 minutes to avoid soiling and over-exposure to dust. If dust is soiled, remove and replace. Use 1 inch of dust in the bath house or container for best results. 

Do chinchillas cuddle with you?

Much like other prey species and all animals, each chinchilla is unique and will interact with humans in unique ways. While they can certainly be pet and stroked – and who doesn’t want to pet all of that soft fur! – chinchillas are often naturally independent and high-energy. They do not tend to snuggle with their humans like dogs or other species. They will, however, with time and positive interaction, form strong bonds with their owners and enjoy and seek interaction. Much like humans, some individual chins are more extroverted while others can tend to be introverted.

Learn more about chinchillas

What signs should I look for when deciding to take my chinchilla to the vet?

How can I find a qualified exotics vet for my chinchilla?

Download Oxbow’s Free Chinchilla Care Guide to learn more about nutrition, behavior, and care.

Learn more about the NOLA Chinchilla Rescue.

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March 17, 2019

DIY Pot O’ Gold Hay & Treat Holder for Rabbits and Guinea Pigs

DIY "Pot O' Gold" Hay & Treat Holder for Rabbits & Guinea Pigs

Transform an Oxbow Timothy CLUB Hideout to create a fun, enriching hay and treat holder for your rabbit, guinea pig, or other small herbivore this St. Patrick's Day!

 

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March 15, 2019

What Are the Best Vegetables and Leafy Greens for Guinea Pigs?

What Are the Best Vegetables and Leafy Greens for Guinea Pigs?

Greens and veggies in your guinea pig’s diet are a great source of key micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) as well as a great way to provide dietary variety. A majority (~70%) of a guinea pig’s diet should consist of high-quality grass hay, alongside uniform food (20%) and veggies and greens (8%). As a simple way to remember, guinea pigs should get about ½ cup of greens per 1 pound of body weight daily. For example, if your pig weighs 2 pounds, they should get around 1 cup of fresh greens each day. 

What are some good greens and veggies for my guinea pig?

A majority of the vegetables you offer your guinea pig should be in the form of leafy greens. These greens are going to be packed with essential micronutrients and antioxidants with very low amounts of starches and sugars. Root vegetables can also be offered to your animal, but limit these to no more than 10-15% of their daily veggies. So, our 2-pound piggie could get about 2 tablespoons of root veggies in addition to their greens (to total 1 cup). It is important that you gradually introduce your guinea pig to new veggies to avoid overwhelming their digestive tract and upsetting their gut. While there are many veggies specifically recommended for guinea pigs, a quick transition to even the most appropriate food can cause some upset in an animal not used to consuming it.

There are many resources available to research the specific benefits of certain veggies, but here we will list some piggie-approved options. 

Leafy Greens -- 85-90% of veggie offering Vegetables -- 10-15% of veggie offering
Leafy green lettuce (Romaine, butterhead, Bibb) Bell peppers (any color, seeds removed)
Red or green leaf lettuce Cucumber with leaves
Arugula Parsnip
Endive Summer/zucchini squash
Turnip greens Kohlrabi
Dandelion greens Celery—may want to remove veins or cut into small chunks
Chicory Broccolini
Raspberry leaves Carrots with leaves/greens in tact
Radicchio Broccoli (leaves and stems)
Basil (any variety) Brussel sprouts
Mint (any variety) Cabbage (any type)
Watercress  
Kale (all types)  
Cilantro  
Bok Choy  
Dill leaves  
Parsley  
Spinach  

Overall, these veggies are excellent sources of vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, B vitamins, soluble fiber, potassium, magnesium, and trace minerals such as iron, manganese, copper, and zinc. The truly unique contribution of these veggies are the phytonutrients or antioxidants. These phytonutrients are only found in plants and, while not essential for life, do wonders for keeping your pet happy and healthy. Phytonutrients can be vitamins, such as vitamin C, or other compounds such as carotenoids, polyphenols, and flavonoids. Phytonutrients can be powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory benefits and can aid in everything from boosting the immune system to maintaining heart health.

No one size fits all diet

While the veggies listed above are generally great options for your little one, it is important to tailor your pet’s diet to their individual needs. For example, dill, parsley, spinach, beetroot, are all high in calcium or oxalic acid, so if your guinea has a history of bladder stones, these options should be spread out and offered infrequently, or avoided altogether. If offered in large quantities, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage may cause some gastrointestinal discomfort (gas, bloating), so we suggest offering these veggies in moderation. Options such as carrots and parsnips, while delicious, are very calorically dense and contain more sugar/carbohydrates than other veggies, so it is best to provide these options sparingly, or only as a treat. In order to offer the best rotation for your fur baby, its always recommended to consult with your veterinarian.

Variety is the spice of life, so rotating your piggy’s veggie smorgasbord is a great way to add variety and enrichment to the daily diet. Just as we recommend offering a variety of hays, offering 3 to 5 different types of veggies daily can keep them interested in their diet. While many veggies may have similar nutritional compositions, there can be a great deal of variety in their aroma, taste, and textures so don’t be afraid to explore and find what your pet likes best!

As a quick and easy reference, we have put together the following charts to compare calcium and vitamin C concentrations in our recommended veggies to control or monitor intake of these nutrients (source: USDA Food Composition Database).

Learn More About Guinea Pig Care

How can I prevent bladder sludge in my guinea pig?

What are the best kind of treats for guinea pigs?

How can I make sure that my guinea pig's teeth stay healthy?

...Read More

March 06, 2019

How to Adopt a Guinea Pig

How to Adopt a Guinea Pig

Although they’re small, guinea pigs can be a big responsibility. This guide is designed to help you through the process of how to adopt a guinea pig, and will also provide you with some tips and information to consider throughout the process of meeting your new furry family member.

Consideration Before Adopting a Guinea Pig  How to Adopt a Guinea Pig

Before Adoption: Considerations

  • Spend time with guinea pigs before bringing one home or purchasing any of their necessities. Will they be a good fit for your lifestyle?
  • Guinea pig bills can add up. Just like any pet, guinea pigs have necessities. Hay, an age-appropriate food, appropriate veggies, enrichment (treats and chews), bedding, an appropriate habitat and playpen, and regular veterinary care are all essential to keeping your new friend happy and healthy.
  • Guinea pigs should be a family commitment, not just a child’s responsibility. Children sometimes do not have the maturity to understand what the 5-8 year commitment of a guinea pig means, and aren’t always perceptive enough to understand when an animal is sick.
  • Guinea pigs are prey animals. They will instinctively run from loud sounds and fast movements and will hide when they’re scared. They also mask illness when they’re sick; if you see them acting sick, they have likely been ill for several days. An immediate vet visit is recommended.
  • Guinea pigs are social animals and are usually happiest with a friend of the same sex. Regardless of sex, it can take rescues time to pair up guinea pigs. It is not recommended to pair guinea pigs without experience or a rescue's advice.
  • Look up cavy-savvy veterinarians in your area so you know who to go to before problems arise. Guinea pigs need an exotic veterinarian, as they are very different from dogs and cats.
  • Have a family member or friend who will take your animal’s needs seriously if you need to go out of town. Speak with them before adopting to ensure they are open to pet-sitting as needed.
  • Make sure no plants or electrical cords are ever around enclosures or playpens, as these are dangerous for guinea pigs and other animals who have an instinct to chew.
  • Some animals might not be considered “special needs” when you adopt them, but over time they might develop special needs. It’s best to prepare for this reality so your pet can continue living a meaningful, healthy life, regardless of what the future brings.

Where to Start

  • Google search “guinea pig rescue near [your town/city]”
  • Petfinder is a great resource to find out about rescues in your area and can give you an opportunity to learn about individual animals before contacting the rescue. If there aren’t any guinea pigs up for adoption currently, wait a week and try searching again. According to Petfinder, on average over 10,000 homeless guinea pigs are listed on their website each year.
  • Local or regional humane societies often take in surrendered small animals. While some humane societies might not have as many resources to direct toward small animals, they can still help you find a guinea pig who needs a good home.

Questions to Ask the Rescue

Some rescues are run differently than others. Often rescues are run 100% by volunteers who donate their efforts and finances to the organization. Make sure to contact the rescue before visiting, as they possibly have limited hours or might have paperwork you need to fill out before meeting the animals in their care.

  1. Does this animal have any special needs or particular health issues? What was their life like before coming to the rescue?
  2. What are this guinea pig’s likes, dislikes, and general personality? Are they shy or outgoing, and do they like being handled?
  3. What vet does this animal go to for care?
  4. What cage, food, hay, and other products does the rescue recommend?
  5. Can you take a handful of pellets and hay from the rescue so you can mix old and new food together to avoid gut upset?* 

Precaution

Beware of animal "flippers." These are individuals who take in animals, either by stealing them or finding them for free, only to turn around and sell them. "Flippers" will generally not have the animal’s best interest in mind and likely know very little about the animal’s personality, health history, or individual needs; their goal is to make a quick sale. If you ask questions about the animal that they can’t seem to answer, or if you're feeling pressured into taking a pet home without having time to meet the animal or to think about it, you may want to look for alternatives.

After Adoption: Welcome Home!

  • Set up the enclosure before bringing your new family members home. This will allow them to settle in right away.
  • Try to avoid touching or picking up your new family member for a few days unless they appear to want attention. Being in a different place with new sounds and smells can be frightening, and the guinea pig will need time to adjust to new surroundings.
  • Regularly set aside at least an hour a day to spend time with your furry family member. This can include hand feeding them hay or fortified food, interacting with them through enrichment, or simply sitting by their enclosure while reading or completing a quiet task.

To your new family members, you are the biggest part of the world that they know. Make sure the world they experience is happy and healthy!

Learn More About Guinea Pig Care

What supplies does your guinea pig need?

How can you tell if your guinea pig is ill or needs to see a vet? 

Download Oxbow’s free Guinea Pig Care Guide! 

...Read More

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