You're not the only one who admires a clean, fresh space. Pets do too! Next time you tidy your small animal's cage, stimulate his senses by adding new décor and repositioning his current toys and accessories. You will enjoy watching him explore his updated home, and in turn, he will improve his mental and physical health.
Why Should You Rearrange Your Pet's Habitat?
Hamsters, guinea pigs, bunnies, gerbils, chinchillas, rats -- and really all small animals -- are naturally curious. By mixing up the usual layout of their cage, you entice the pet to sniff, explore and look around their home in a new way. This mental stimulation can help ease boredom and bad habits, especially if the pet lives solo or won't be getting as much attention as usual (for example, if you go on vacation or have a scheduling change).
Plus, adding new toys and accessories is fun for you! Picking out things you think your pet will enjoy helps the two of you bond and engage with one another. Seeing your hamster climb a new swinging toy or gerbil run in an exercise wheel is sure to make you laugh after a tough day.
To get started, rearranging your pet's habitat means emptying the entire cage, wiping down all the surfaces, and setting up a new interior of the pet's home. Plan to do this type of deep clean on your critter's home every few months to avoid any lingering odors and manually check for damage to the cage. Is there a hole chewed through the plastic? Has a door latch become loose? Is the water bottle leaking?
Note: Spot clean your pet's cage daily to remove any build-up of soiled bedding and top off food and water. Each week, plan to change the bedding in the bottom of the cage and wash food bowls and water bottles.
How to Easily Clean Your Pet's Home
Have a family member or trusted friend who knows how to gently handle the pet keep the critter company. Maybe they opt for playtime on the couch together or the pet gets to run the floor in an exercise ball.
Next, remove everything from the cage. Throw away used bedding, old food, and broken toys. Place the water bottle, food bowls, hay racks, and plastic hiding houses or tubes into the kitchen sink filled with warm water, dish soap, and a splash of bleach to sanitize the surfaces. Scrub the pet décor, then rinse with clear water and dry with a dishtowel. Don't forget to also wipe down the interior of the cage including the flooring and wire walls. You can use a moistened dishcloth for this simple step.
Once the cage is dry, add the basics back. Start with your favorite bedding, such as Kaytee Clean & Cozy Extreme Odor Control Bedding (which keeps odors to a minimum for up to two weeks!) and food bowls. Next, fill and hang the water bottle. Maybe you choose to put it in a different place, or add a second bottle if the cage has multiple levels.
Adding Awesome Accessories and Decorations
The best part comes last! Now you can get creative with your pet's habitat and choose new locations for the accessories, toys, and treats. Mix it up! Put the food bowl on the other end of the cage. Position the Kaytee Igloo Hideout in the middle of the habitat floor. Position a tube to connect the two!
Alongside the pet's favorites, experiment with a new addition to his home. Have you ever offered with a soft padded Kaytee Super Sleeper Cuddle-E-Cup for your hamster or gerbil? Or, maybe a Kaytee Simple Sleeper Cozy Hammock? Rats, chinchillas, and ferrets love these cozy hanging additions!
Does your pet love to chew? A habitat refresh is a perfect time to hang a new treat stick or colorful toy. Or, maybe you add a second bowl for treats. This can hold occasional fresh nibbles like baby carrots and spinach leaves to peak the pet's interest.
Finally, personalize the cage for the pet. Can your child draw a name tag on construction paper to hang on the cage using paper clips? Or, is there a holiday coming up? Your child can decorate the exterior base of the cage with festive stickers or window clings. Just be sure the pet can't get to the decorations or they might get chewed up!
Taking the time to refresh and update pet décor not only gives you a sense of accomplishment but also provides much-needed mental enrichment and stimulation for your furry friend. We can't play with them all day long. Having a fun habitat to explore allows them to play at their own pace, peeking and poking into all the corners and hideouts, until they tire and curl up for a restful nap. A sleepy pet is a content pet.
Happy habitat updating!
Bridgeville Animal Hospital, Physical and Mental Stimulation
Sykesville Veterinary Clinic, Small Animal Care Tips: How to Clean Up Their Cage