Educational Articles

Small Mammals + Behavior

  • Chinchillas are generally hardy animals but are susceptible to several unique health conditions; understanding them will help you care for your pet and manage potential health problems. This handout describes the most common conditions seen in pet chinchillas.

  • Dexmedetomidine is a sedative/tranquilizer used primarily in cats and dogs as a pre-medication injection for anesthesia or for chemical restraint. It is also used orally in dogs for short-term anxiety management. The most common side effect is a low heart rate. Dexmedetomidine should not be used in patients with severe heart liver or kidney disease. It should be used cautiously in young, old, or weak animals. Consult your veterinary office immediately if you suspect a negative reaction or overdose.

  • Due to their well-deserved reputation as escape artists, ferrets should be housed in a cage that can be securely closed and/or locked. They also need a safe, "ferret-proofed" play area or room where they can explore and investigate while supervised.

  • Guinea pigs are generally hardy, healthy animals but are susceptible to certain diseases. They cannot make their own vitamin C and require supplementation or they may develop scurvy. Guinea pigs get various tumors, particularly skin and mammary tumors. Guinea pigs also get abscesses (accumulations of pus and bacteria) in lymph nodes, skin, muscles, teeth, bones, and internal organs. They are very prone to development of urinary calculi that form in the bladder, kidneys, or ureters which may become lodged, causing a life-threatening obstruction. In addition, guinea pigs often are affected by ringworm and can get fleas and lice. Barbering is a problem, usually associated with boredom, in which the guinea pig chews or barbers its own hair or the hair of its cage-mate. Pododermatitis, or bumblefoot, in which sores develop on the bottom of the feet from pressure, is common in overweight animals housed on wire-bottomed or dirty cages that abrade the feet.

  • Ferrets are generally good-natured, inquisitive, playful animals that enjoy the company of humans. They can make great pets! This handout provides some basic facts about ferrets and what you need to know about keeping one as a pet.

  • Sugar gliders are small, nocturnal mammals with a social and curious nature. They are also marsupials, meaning they possess a pouch in which the female raises her young. This handout describes the sugar glider's physical and behavioral characteristics along with recommendations for choosing one to be your pet.