Home sweet home?
7 February 2023
Home sweet home?
At PACT not only do we strive to find the best possible forever homes for our animals, but we also try to provide the most suitable and enriching environments while they're in our care.
This is of particular importance for our little rodents who spend much of their time within their individual set ups. Over the years there has been a shift away from small, inadequate cages to spacious, species appropriate environments full of enrichment. Unfortunately pet shops still sell cages that aren't fit for purpose and don't meet the veterinary association for animal welfares minimum space recommendation of 100 x 50 x 50cm
Despite this, with the help of the Internet, more and more owners and reading on the subject, joining groups dedicated to creating a more natural life for their pets and building their own enclosures or buying online..
Unfortunately we're still seeing rodents kept in the small unsuitable cages that we're once popular and it breaks our hearts.
In the photo below is a cage that previously held a gerbil. Both the size and style of this cage are sadly unsuitable for any small rodent, especially Gerbils.
Hamsters and Gerbils are burrowers by nature and Gerbils are known for creating an intricate network of tunnels, in the wild tunnels cab reach 3m long! Because of this the recommended minimum burrowing depth of substrate for hamsters and Gerbils is around 8 to 10 inches, which simply isn't possible with these small cages.
Apart from the inability to burrow, these cages also prevent rodents expressing other nature behaviours, such as running, foraging and in the case of Gerbils living within a family group.
Exercise can be provided with a wheel, but the size needed to protect a Gerbils back is 10 inches minimum, which is larger than many of these small cages can accommodate.
Gerbils cab be very social, as they live in family groups of up to 15 in the wild, but being kept in small cages can cause fighting between even bonded family members.
Hamsters in particular can display many behaviour problems when confined in an unsuitable set up, such as bar biting.
In the photo we also have one of our Gerbils enclosures as a comparison, it exceeds the recommended size, has a very generous depth of substrate for burrowing, a 10 inch wheel and space to run and forage.
For anyone wanting information on welfare and improving an small rodents exsiting setup or creating a new one from scratch please visit SPRAW who are passionate about small rodent welfare.
We hope that one day unsuitable setups will be a thing of the past, peg shops will sell species appropriate environments and all small rodents will live fulfilling lives where they thrive within a home which mimics their natural home as closely as possible.
After all, we wouldn't want to spend our lives trapped in a small bare room, and neither do they!