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Dogwood Animal Hospital

2050 Sugarloaf Parkway
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30045

Socializing Your Pet Rodent

November 15 2014

You’ve decided to bring a pet rodent into your household’s mini-menagerie. You’re considering both a pet rat and a hamster, and you’ve done lots of research about both of these little creatures. You’ve figured out their habitat requirements, and you’ll discuss their diet with your Lawrenceville veterinarian during your pet’s new patient exam. While your vet can also provide you with some useful socialization advice, consider these guidelines as well.

Design the Interaction

Give yourself enough time to properly meet your little friend; in other words, don’t squeeze this interaction into your already-crazy time schedule. Also, consider your new pet’s age, and make your sessions shorter for a younger pet. Build in some time for their bathroom and snack breaks, and plan to relax while your little pet goes off in a corner for a self-imposed time-out. After all, he’s probably a bit nervous and overwhelmed.

Knock Down Their Stress Level

First, don’t stand above your little pet, as that will probably make him suspect that you’re a huge potential predator – and he’ll react accordingly. Sit down on the floor, or raise the cage so you don’t appear quite as large. Also, don’t thrust your hand into his cage to grab him. Instead, use a small cup or other neutral device to gather your little pet, letting him walk onto your hand at his convenience. By taking this approach, you tell your pet that you respect him and want to make this introduction as stress-free as possible.

Rule Out Physical Punishment

Even with your gentle approach and care, your new pet might bite or scratch you out of nervousness. Remember that he’s taking an instinctive action, and he doesn’t hate you personally. Above all, don’t give him physical punishment, which can hurt him and negatively affect future interactions. Instead, offer a chew toy or distract him by gently delivering a puff of air that will make him think twice about nipping you again.

Consistency Is the Key

Since socializing your pet rodent might take some time, plan to work with him at least every other day. Devote at least 10 minutes to smaller-animal interactions; and plan a 20-minute exercise for larger rodent pets. Eventually, he’ll get the idea that this huge creature (you) isn’t a fearsome predator. In fact, you’re committed to making him a spoiled-rotten rodent who gets lots of attention.

When your rodent pet next visits his Lawrenceville vet, your vet will be pleased at how well you’ve socialized your little friend.

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