All Valley Animal Care Center with KBOI2 talking about how to care for a pocket pet.
Q: What are some of the good conditions for pocket pets?
A: Pocket pets they are nice because, as you can see, they are smaller. So, they might be a better apartment pet for you. They're also popular with kids, although you need to make sure the kids are old enough to understand no squeezing, no dropping, no putting your fingers in front of the mouth-that sort of thing. One thing I thought of, a lot of them, like Gordo [the guinea pig] or a rabbit, they're herbivores (plant eaters), so if you're a vegetarian and want a vegetarian pet-this is your guy!
Q: How to pet owners pick the right one for the family?
A: Well, you do want to think about what you need. If you want something you can take out and handle a lot or have young children-a chinchilla may not be the best choice. I heard someone describe it once that [chinchilla] bounce around the room like those little bouncy ball because they're so high activity, but they have so many special needs. I'm a little biased, but growing up, we had pet rats. Those things are great! You have to kind of get used to the tail-that's the down side. But, they cane be very tame. Guinea Pigs can also be very tame.
Q: So, when we're talking about pockets pets-we're talking about gerbels, hamsters and mice?
A: I suppose you might qualify a ferret as a pocket pet. I think ferrets are pretty funny. They are stinky, but they're pretty neat, interesting animals.
Q: So what are the tips on teaching your kids on how to handle these pets?
A: They need to be sure to know that they are fragile. These are small little creatures with delicate little bones. I have seen accidents, and they are awful! When a child squeezes to tight, drops them or steps on them....sometimes the child didn't understand that [a pocket pet] isn't a toy-it's a fragile thing. Make sure your child is old enough and able to understand that.
Q: Are there any kind of medical issues that are common with these...I guess we're talking about rodents?
A: Not quite rodents, Gordo [the Guinea Pig] is actually a Cavia, but that's close. They all have these chewing teeth. They can have tooth problems, they're teeth grow constantly, so they can get misaligned teeth and they're teeth will need to get trimmed. Guinea Pigs, oddly enough, can get this condition called "bloat." Where there poor little stomach just blows up with gas and that can make them extremely sick and be life threatening.