About 40% of all mammals belong to the order of rodents. They are found all over the world, except in Antarctica, and can be found from high up in trees to snug under the ground. Some we unfortunately know because they sit in our homes as pests, but fortunately there are also a lot of cute domesticated rodents that we bring into our homes as companions. Think of the guinea pig, hamster or tame rat. Each animal needs its own special care, housing and nutrition. Information on, among other things, the vitamin C requirements of a guinea pig, the best housing for a hamster or the most common diseases of a rat can be found under the corresponding headings.

  • Guinea pig
  • Hamster
  • Rat

Guinea pig

Guinea pig

Latin name Guinea pig Porcellus
Female Sow
Male Boar
Young Piglet
Life expectancy 5-8 years
Litter size 1-6 piglets
Birth weight 70-100 grams
Eyes open At birth
Gestation period 59-72 days
Average weight Male and female 750-1000 grams
Sexual maturity 45-70 days
Suckling period 3 weeks
Eating behaviour Herbivore (average 3-40 grams per day)


The diet

Guinea pigs are rodents. They have teeth and molars that continue to grow throughout life. In the wild, they eat grass, which they need to chew for a long time, so their molars wear well against each other when properly positioned. The main component of their diet is therefore hay or grass.

Besides this, pellets can be given, but not too much, otherwise you will see dental problems sooner. They are allowed a maximum of 20 grams per kilo per day of pellets. As with the rabbit, it is wise not to give the coloured mixtures, but the green pellets. Green food can be given, but in moderation, as it is often crushed quickly and can therefore cause insufficient grinding of the molars.

They are allowed: praise, peppers, cucumber, endive, piece of apple, carrot and foliage of carrot, cauliflower leaf, broccoli, beech, willow or dandelion leaves. Guinea pigs do not produce vitamin C, so this must be given in addition to the diet. They may have an additional 50-60 mg of vitamin C daily. This can be done by giving a human vitamin C tablet. Drops for in the water or food that already have vitamin C added to it do not work, as they evaporate.


Many rabbits and rodents are kept on sawdust because it is cheap, absorbent and smells good. Research shows that sawdust from coniferous trees can contain harmful substances. These include abietic acid and phenols. This causes risk of liver function disorders and liver diseases, respiratory complaints (pneumonia) and increases the risk of cancer in these animals. In rats, the phenols cause an allergy-like reaction that promotes the onset of Mycoplasma pulmonic-related infections.

What you can use as ground cover are:

  • Straw
  • Cat litter (dust-free)
  • Pressed pellets of wood fibre (deciduous trees, sometimes sharp edges) or pressed paper
  • Paper shreds (preferably unprinted) or newspaper (may contain toxic ink)
  • Ground corn kernels (Corbo)
  • Cotton products (No smell)
  • Sawdust from other types of wood such as poplar, free of toxic substances (Care fresh)

The teeth

Guinea pigs have teeth that continue to grow throughout their lives. The front teeth are quite long and should fit together. If this is not the case, they can grow through and protrude into the mucosa or out of the mouth. In guinea pigs, the front teeth look very long, but this is often as it should be. They need to fit together or they won't be able to pick up food.

Guinea pigs whose front teeth have an abnormal wear often also have problems with their molars. Even without an abnormal position of the front teeth, molar problems can occur. If the molars do not wear down properly, hooks can develop that grow either towards the tongue or the cheek. This can be accompanied by a lot of pain. Some stop eating as soon as they have a small hook, so it is important to pay close attention to this. With reduced appetite, you will often also see abnormal droppings or fewer droppings.

It is wise to contact us if your animal stops eating.




Latin name Mesocricetus Auratus
Female Hamster female
Male Hamster male
Baby Hamster young
Leife expectancy 1-3 years
Litter size 4-12 youngs
Birth weight 2-3 grams
Eyes open 12-14 days
Gestation period 15-18 days
Average weight Male 85-130 grams and female 95-150 grams
Sexual maturity Male 6-8 weeks and female 4 weeks
Suckling period 3 weeks
Eating behaviour Omnivorous (average 5-10 grams per day)


The hamster likes to live in a multi-level cage. Preferably not a plastic or wooden cage, as they gnaw on these. Do not use sawdust or synthetic bedding. Hamsters love to hide and move around. They are nocturnal animals and will therefore be active at night. It is important that the hamster gets enough exercise every day. A running wheel can be used for this purpose.

Hamsters are omnivores, so they also eat insects in the wild. They have a large cheek pouch on each side where they often stuff the food to hide or eat later in a hole. Hamsters like to search for their food, so you could hide tasty treats in the cage.

Hamsters have long teeth that they often grind on wood in the wild. For example, you could place a piece of birch, willow or hazel in the cage. If the front teeth are out of alignment, they can become too long and puncture the mucous membrane. Then it is important to see your vet.

Common disorders

Diarrhea: too much green food can give your hamster diarrhea. It is important to stop the green food. If they then keep having diarrhea it is best to contact your vet.

Constipation: if your hamster defecates too little, you can offer them some green food. If they still do not defecate it is important to contact your vet.

Wet tail: this is a bacterial infection that can cause severe diarrhea that smells typical. This is often seen in young hamsters. It is highly contagious to your other hamsters, so you should isolate the hamster. It is best to contact your vet.

Inflamed cheek pouches: hamsters put all sorts of things in their cheek pouches. This can sometimes cause inflammation. It is important to contact your vet if this happens.





Latin name Rattus Norvegicus
Female Rat female
Male Rat male
Young Ritten
Life expectancy 2-4 years
Litter size 6-16 rittens
Birth weight 5-7 grams
Eyes open 10-16 days
Gestation period 20-22 days
Average weight 400-800 grams
Sexual maturity 6-10 weeks
Suckling period 3-4 weeks
Eating behaviour Omnivore (20-25 grams per day)

A rat is best housed in a lattice cage with a plastic bottom, a special rat house or a vivarium with a well-ventilated lid. Using a wooden cage is not recommended as it will gnaw its way out of these. A rat loves to explore and move around, so its cage can never be big enough.

A rat is best kept indoors, in a room with constant temperature, out of direct sunlight, out of draughts and out of reach of other pets. A rat's hearing is extremely sensitive, so do not place its home near the washing machine, for example.

The cage should be cleaned regularly. Choose absorbent bedding, this will make it easier to keep the cage clean. As untreated straw can injure the rat, it is not suitable for your rat. Always choose a dust-free bedding to avoid eye, nose and respiratory irritation. Rats are often extremely sensitive to dust! Sawdust unfortunately contains harmful substances, which can cause respiratory problems. It is therefore best not to use it. For advice on which bedding material to use, please contact us.


A rat looks for its food and will eat anything. A rat is an omnivore and needs protein to stay in good condition. A rat scavenges for its food, so feed it twice a day. Also make sure fresh drinking water is available every day. For proper nutritional advice, please contact us.


Rats love exercise. Toilet rolls, sisal rope to climb, a box filled with bedding, all toys that rats love. A rat sleeps during the day, so keep in mind that it will play for 3-4 hours at night.


Make sure your rat is awake when you want to approach him, otherwise he may get scared and bite. If your rat bites you, it is best to contact your GP. Always let the rat approach your hand gently. You can grab the rat with one hand over its shoulders, with your thumb just behind a front leg while supporting the hind legs with your other hand if necessary. Never lift your rat by its tail.

Common ailments

Some rats suffer from itching and scabs. This may be due to mites. Fungus can also cause skin complaints. Therefore, contact your vet in case of skin complaints.

Airway disorders: this problem is among the most common disorder in the rat. Symptoms include shortness of breath, rales, sniffling, sneezing, runny nose and even red tears. In addition, more general symptoms such as lethargy, weight loss and puffy fur may be present. In case of symptoms, it is best to contact your vet immediately.

Long teeth: the rat's teeth grow throughout its life, so make sure it can gnaw properly to keep its teeth at good length. If your rat's teeth are too long, please contact us.

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