If you’re a brand-new pet parent (or considering becoming one), you’ve likely asked yourself many questions about the exciting new adventure you’re beginning to embark on with your new furry family member. In this article, we will provide some helpful tips on how to safely welcome a pet home.
Tone Down the Noise Levels While They Adjust
When welcoming your new pet home, it can be hard to remember that they are entering an entirely new environment. For prey species, new environments mean countless perceived new threats. As a new pet parent, it is your job to help your pet to acclimate to your home’s sounds, smells, and sights in small increments over time.
Many pet parents find that their pets may startle and run and hide when there are strange sounds or sudden noises, such as loud music or TV, loud speaking, or things falling to the ground. Be conscientious during the first week your new pet is home and do what you can to keep noise levels moderate. After a week has passed, make it a goal to introduce normal noise levels slowly over time.
Resist the Urge to Pick Up or Pet Them for the First Few Days
New pets are exciting, but it’s essential to put their best interest ahead of your personal enjoyment. While your pet is adjusting to your home—and while you are working on building trust between each other—it is best to not attempt picking them up and snuggling with them. Instead, interact with your pet in small ways.
Get to Know Your Pet Slowly Over Time
Introductions with exotic companion mammals aren’t just a singular event. Your goal with your new pet should be to build a trusting relationship, and building this trust takes many, many positive interactions over time.
When introducing yourself to your pet, always offer some food. This can be a small treat, but can also include a tasty-looking leaf or seed head from their hay. Chances are your pet may already be hiding, or may run to the safety of their hideout when you approach their enclosure. Offer the food at the opening of the hideout, and they may take it.
Don’t get discouraged if they don’t take the food you offer! You can try a few more times with other food items to learn if your pet has any preferences. If they do not accept any food, they may not be ready for interaction yet—and that’s okay! Some pets take longer to adjust to interacting with their humans than others. It’s important that you remain patient.
Provide Easy, Ample Access to Food, Water, and Shelter
While enriching options for foraging for food and hay will provide your pet with hours of fun in the future, now is not the time to provide any type of puzzle or challenge to your pet when they’re trying to access their food.
- Offer fortified food in an easy-to-reach bowl
- Provide ample amounts of fresh hay is available in an easy-to-use hay feeder as well as in various locations on the floor near their hideout
- Make sure water is available and visible near the opening of your pet’s hideout
Keep a Close Eye On What Goes In (And Out)
Adjusting to a new home can be more stressful for some individuals than for others. Depending on your pet’s stress level, this can sometimes result in a pet not eating or drinking enough. During this adjustment period, closely watch how much food and water your pet is eating and drinking.
Similarly, watch your pet’s output—meaning how much urine and feces they are excreting. If you suspect your pet is not eating, drinking, or eliminating enough, it might be time to further adjust your pet’s environment to ensure they’re comfortable enough to eat and drink.
If their condition does not improve quickly, it’s possible your pet will need to be an exotics-savvy veterinarian. We have a blog about rabbit and guinea pig output here for further reference.
Schedule A Wellness Exam With An Experienced Exotics Veterinarian
While your pet may appear (and likely is) perfectly healthy now, it’s critical for your pet to have a wellness exam at least once a year. This not only helps catch health issues before they have a chance to get worse, but also gives you the opportunity to build a long-term professional relationship with a veterinarian, who may see your pet as a patient for the entirety of their life.
View the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians’ website if you do not yet have an exotics vet appointment lined up.
Don’t Overdo It on Treats, Fruits, Or Veggies
As much as we all want to shower new pets with an abundance of treats, large amounts of these delectable foods may cause GI upset. Make sure to introduce any new foods in small amounts. It’s important to remember that treats should only make up a small percentage of your pet’s daily diet.
Visit the following blogs for more info about species-appropriate veggies and fruits:
Plan And Prepare To Transition Your Pet’s Diet
Depending on where your pet came from, you may make the decision to change the brand or type of food you plan to offer. When this is the case, it’s important to remember that your pet’s digestive systems is used to a certain formulation of ingredients. Sudden changes to diet can result in digestive upset, leading to a variety of issues. Additionally, prey species (including rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and other species) can sometimes interpret sudden changes to their diet as a threat, resulting in picky eating.
If possible, make sure to have some of your pet’s old food on hand to help you transition them effectively from their old diet to their new diet. To read more about how to properly transition your pet’s diet, visit our blog post here.
Just like people, exotic companion mammals all have individual preferences and personalities. You may find that your pet adjusts to your home quickly, or you may find that your pet is slower to adjust to your home. Make sure to remain patient with your pet. It can sometimes take a while for a pet to adjust to a new home, but when given the time and proper encouragement, your pet will adjust to their surroundings and enjoy their life in their new home.