Grooming rodents

Following are some methods for keeping various types of rodents clean and allergen free. While the following advice focuses on the combing, brushing and cleaning of rodent coats your pet will also need additional care. You can find out more about keeping your rodent clean and healthy by contacting your local veterinarian.

  • Gerbils: Since these rodents are desert animals they produce little urine and have hardly any odor. They also need only minimal grooming and attention from you as they themselves work hard to keep clean by using their tongues, teeth and paws. You can brush them from time to time by using a small stiff brush or toothbrush in order to remove their dander, which is the allergen that they primarily produce.
  • Guinea pigs: Depending on the breed these little rodents need to be groomed between one and several times a week. They like Gerbils do much of the work of keeping clean by themselves by using their tongues, teeth and paws. Depending on the length, type and thickness of their coats they require different methods of grooming.
    1. Short-haired guinea pigs have soft hair that lies close to their skin. Using a soft brush and following the lay of their hair brush them from head to tail. This will remove any loose hairs as well as dander.
    2. Medium-stiff haired guinea pigs have hair that stands up from the body and is usually about 2 inches in length. Use a small fine-wired slicker and brush using an upward and outward stroke.
    3. Peruvian or long-haired guinea pigs have a coat made up of long soft hairs and usually have a forelock that falls over their faces. Since their hair is always growing and can reach lengths in excess of 20 inches if not kept trimmed they require a lot of grooming attention. If they are not given constant attention and grooming their long hairy coat will quickly become soiled and matted with their urine, saliva and dander. It is best to brush them with a slicker or bristle brush and then comb, starting first at the base of the hair and moving outwards. This combing will help to prevent the matting that acts as a trap for allergens.
    4. Teddies, guinea pigs with short to long curly wiry coats, have a coat that while not prone to matting acts as a magnet for dust, dirt, and loose bedding material. It is best to brush their coats two times or more a week using a fine-wire slicker brush.
  • Hamsters: These little rodents will spend hours everyday grooming themselves with their teeth, tongues and paws in order to maintain clean and good looking fur. If you own one of the shorthaired varieties you will only need to groom it once in a while. If however you have one of the longhaired varieties it will need more frequent care and grooming. This can be accomplished with a bristle brush or toothbrush and will help to keep their enclosure free of dead hair and dander.
  • Chinchillas: These natives of the Andean Mountains of Peru, Chile and Bolivia are unique in the manner that they use to keep clean.
    Both in the wild and in captivity they need to "bathe" daily in a fine dust or sand in order to keep their softy furry coats from becoming oily. It is possible to obtain this bathing dust or sand from most pet stores.
    The Chinchillas soft silky fur needs grooming from time to time in order to clean it of dead hairs and dust. Use a bristle brush or toothbrush for this task.
  • Mice and rats: Both these animals are amazingly picky about their cleanliness. They will faithfully groom themselves as well as any other members of their colony so much so that there is almost never a need for their human owners to expend energy doing so. They can however be brushed with a toothbrush to help keep to a minimum the amount of dead hair that they shed in their enclosures. It is best to brush them from head to tail while following the lay of their hair.
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