Hamsters and different rodents want area and playful stimuli to thrive

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Guinea pigs and hamsters are comparatively small, but they still need a lot of space to run around – more than most would assume.

Animal rights activists say rodents like hamsters and guinea pigs are usually sold or kept in cages that are just way too small.

“That is very common and really not good for these species,” says Daniela Rickert from the German Veterinary Association for Animal Welfare (tvt). “Commercial housings are usually always too small,” says Rickert.

Since the enclosures your local pet store offers you are likely to be too small, there is only one thing you can do as a pet owner, says Rickert. “Really, you should build your own.”

For the keeping of two to four guinea pigs, for example, she recommends a floor space of at least 2 square meters, while other animal welfare experts say even more. For each additional animal, the area must be increased by at least 0.5 m 2.

Rodents have a strong need to move around and are eager to discover something new all the time. That is why they need space and playful stimuli such as exercise bikes, tree hollows or other hiding places.

Your pet store should advise bringing your gerbils or chinchillas home in a species-appropriate environment.

People who buy these types of animals on the fly are also often completely uninformed about the needs of their new pets, she says. – dpa