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Vet advice for guinea pigs and small rodents
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Accredited

Small Furries

We use this term to describe the myriad of small furry animals that routinely come to the clinic for treatment. These include rats, mice, hamsters, chinchillas, guinea pigs, degus, gerbils, duprasis and chipmunks.

Of course it is important to know all about your particular species to ensure that your pet receives the correct food and environment (housing, bedding etc) and that they are handled in the right way. We’re happy to offer advice on any of these subjects. You might need help in determining the sex of your pet as this can sometimes be surprisingly tricky. Depending on the species concerned you may need to house your small furries in separate groups to prevent either breeding or fighting or perhaps both! Vetark are the UK’s leading specialists in exotic pet nutrition. Their vitamin and mineral supplements have been improving the health of exotic species for over 20 years thanks to their basis in veterinary research. The products are updated in line with the latest research to ensure stunning results are always delivered for guinea pigs, rats, mice, hamsters, chinchillas, degus, gerbils, chipmunks – all have benefitted from Vetark products. There are over 200 Vetark products and you can sign up for the Vetark newsletters, discounts and information too -

How long will my pet live?

All the small furries have a lifespan of approximately 2 years, except for guinea pigs and chipmunks who will live for around 5 years whilst chinchillas and degus can easily live for 10 years.


We recommend that all of the small furries - rats, mice, hamsters, chinchillas, guinea pigs, degus, gerbils, duprasis, chipmunks - are kept in separate colonies of males/females or are surgically neutered according to their species recommendation. The individual details are as follows...

PetPubertyPregnancyLitter sizeEyes openWeaning
Rats4 weeks3 weeks6-1312 days21 days
Mice6 weeks3 weeks7-1212 days18 days
Hamsters8 weeks2-4 weeks5-1012 days21 days
Chinchillas6 months14 weeks2-6at birthfew days
Guinea pigs3 months8-10 weeks2-5at birthfew days
Degus6 months12 weeks5-6at birthfew days
Gerbils3 months3-6 weeks3-621 days28 days
Duprasis3 months3 weeks3-516 days21 days
Chipmunks1 year4-5 weeks3-55 weeks6 weeks
What can go wrong?

The most common problem that we see in all the small furries is Dental disease, usually as a result of an incorrect diet that has softened the bones supporting the cheek teeth. This results in the tooth roots shifting their position so that the tooth arcades become malaligned. We can correct this by trimming or rasping the teeth whilst your pet is asleep under a general anaesthetic.

Other common ailments include respiratory disease in rats and mice, bowel disease in hamsters & gerbils, large skin tumours in rats and mice, diabetes in hamsters, skin mites in guinea pigs, or Ringworm in all of the small furries.

But don’t let this put you off! The small furries can make great pets if you choose wisely, especially for children.

Call for Free Advice: 01772 701432


Contact Form

Species, breed, age (years), sex (male/female/unknown), neutered (yes/no), how many pets?

Very briefly please tell us about any relevant previous medical history and details of any current medication.

Pet Advice