Small Animals, General Considerations

Frequently asked questions about General Considerations
  • Can incest occur in mice from the same litter if these become sexually mature?
  • Can rabbits spend the winter in their cage on the balcony?
  • My rabbit eats his droppings, what is wrong with him?
  • Which tips are available for feeding, taming and occupation of gerbils?

Can incest occur in mice from the same litter if these become sexually mature?

Question:
My house mouse female (1 year old) had a litter 2 weeks ago. I now have 12, 2 week old house mouse young. Is it dangerous to keep them all? Can incest occur among the mice when they reach sexual maturity?

Answer:
Mice generally reach sexual maturity at about 45 days. From this age onwards, each female mouse can have up to 6 litters per year. The animals breed amongst siblings as much as with other, unrelated animals. If you leave the mice together, you can calculate how many mice you will have by the end of the year. In addition, incest of course increases the risk of deformities. I therefore advise you urgently to separate male and female mice on time. If you then can keep both groups depending on the size of your cages.

Can rabbits spend the winter in their cage on the balcony?

Question:
My two rabbits (lion head, 2 years old) have been in a large cage on the balcony for some time. Can they stay outside during the winter?

Answer:
Rabbits can also live very well outside in the winter if they were kept permanently outside in summer and autumn. But they need a large, well insulated sleeping space which protects them from rain and wind. Animals, which stay outside during the winter, should not be brought into the warm flat for a few hours. The thermal regulation is confused and the animals are cold when they go back outside. Take care that the drinking water does not freeze.

My rabbit eats his droppings, what is wrong with him?

Question:
My rabbit eats his droppings, what is wrong with him?

Answer:
There is nothing wrong with your rabbit. It is normal for rabbits to eat their so-called caecum faeces. These bright, soft droppings, which still contain many vitamins and minerals, are eaten again and the food mush is therefore used more efficiently. Your rabbit therefore shows completely normal rabbit behaviour.

Which tips are available for feeding, taming and occupation of gerbils?

Question:
Can you give me tips on the feeding, taming and occupation (apart from chewing the box) of my gerbil?

Answer:
Gerbils are very sensitive to deficiencies in feeding. Therefore give them rodent food enriched with vegetables and fruit and take care that the portion does not contain too many sunflower seeds (they like them so much that they eat too many which can make them ill). Unshelled nuts are particularly good additional food. They are not only tasty but also great for nibbling. It is important that food is provided fresh on a daily basis (remove old fruit and vegetables). Gerbils should have material to build nests (hay, wood-wool) as an occupation and enough objects to hide in (empty tins, small boxes). As gerbils normally live in extensive caves, you should give them a floor of a layer of at least 10 cm soft wood granules for digging. The gerbils also like to take sand baths. They will like a flat bowl with fine sand.

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