Give Your New Rodent a Good “Meet and Greet” Session

Your rodent pet ownership experience is about to begin. Later this week, you’ll bring home a hamster or pet rat from a reputable pet store. In preparation, you’ve thoroughly researched each species’ nutritional and habitat needs. After your little pet arrives, your North Suffolk, VA veterinarian will give him a new patient exam. He’ll also prescribe a tasty, nutritious diet and provide expert socialization advice.

Relaxed Introduction

This initial meeting lays the groundwork, and sets the tone, for your entire pet ownership experience. Schedule a generous block of time, and don’t cram the session between two other time-critical appointments. Your small rodent pet will probably sense your anxiety.

For a younger pet, plan a shorter introduction. Include time for rodent snack and potty breaks. If your little companion scurries off to his “safe spot,” wait calmly for him to return.

Low-Stress Encounter

If you stand above your small rodent’s enclosure, he could assume you’re stalking him for dinner. To help decrease his anxiety, sit down on the floor. If that’s not feasible, elevate his cage so you’re roughly on his level.

Don’t thrust your hand into his cage, as he could feel quite threatened. Instead, slowly gather him into a neutral object, such as a small cup. When he’s comfortable, he should meander onto your hand. By using this approach, you demonstrate your respect and desire for a stress-free encounter.

No Punishment Here

Although you’ve encouraged a non-threatening encounter, your small rodent could still become nervous. He might instinctively nip or scratch your fingers. Remember, he doesn’t mean to hurt you. Don’t hit or otherwise punish this tiny creature, as you can easily injure him.

Also, by establishing a negative tone now, you’ll find it much tougher to positively interact with him later. Instead of retaliation, present him with an enticing chew toy; or distract him with a soft puff of air.

Additional Socialization

Follow up your initial meeting with more socialization efforts. At least every other day, plan another short interaction. Smaller animals might prefer a session slightly longer than 10 minutes. Larger animals might accept a 20-minute encounter.

Over time, your rodent should become increasingly comfortable with your presence. Maybe he’ll understand that you’ve provided him with a nice predator-free lifestyle. To give your pocket pet a healthy start, contact your North Suffolk, VA veterinarian for expert advice.