Adopting a bird or small mammal might seem like a small task, but the truth is they can require a lot of work.
The new relationship between you and your furry, feathery, or hairless family member can be incredibly rewarding and bring you a lifetime of love and joy.
But before you bring your new family member home, there are some important steps you'll have to take first.
No matter what pet you adopt -- bird, rat, guinea pig, etc -- they'll require a lot of care and attention. Birds and small mammals tend to be playful and full of energy their whole life, so you'll need to have time and patience to bond with them.
Here are some factors to keep in mind before you adopt:
As with any adoption, it's going to take some time for both you and your new family member to adjust. Here's what to do once you bring them home.
Every species is different when it comes to sleep habits and diet, so you should consult your vet on what type of food and healthy habits work best for your pet.
When it comes to potty training, birds and small mammals are generally easy to train:
Socializing your pet can take a few weeks to a few months, depending on their situation. All animals respond well to positive reinforcement, treats, and praise. Be gentle with your pet and reward their good behavior while ignoring unruly behavior or giving them their own space until they have cooled off. Older and abused pets can also learn new tricks and behavior, but you'll have to be extra patient and gentle with them.
Introduce your pet to new environments, people, and other pets slowly and with supervision. Playtime and playdates are a great way to get them used to other people and pets.
Get your pet used to a regular sleep schedule. Birds, in particular, need at least 12 hours of sleep to keep them from nesting and potentially laying eggs. Covering their cage with a blanket at night can help maintain this routine.
You can get them used to activities such as baths by presenting them with lots of rewards. Birds usually love taking baths in shallow bowls and will do so on their own after becoming more comfortable. Small mammals may need to be coaxed and get rewarded with extra treats to get into a body of water. Pro tip: rats and ferrets are good swimmers and enjoy diving for treats like sweet peas.
This is also the ideal time to get them used to traveling in a carrier, which you can line with soft blankets, perches, and their favorite toys.
Take your pet to the vet to the vet as soon as possible for a wellness checkup, vaccinations, and (in the case of small mammals) spaying/neutering. The latter can prevent health issues such as mammary tumors, and even keep them from marking their territory.
This is the perfect opportunity to ask your veterinarian about any health issues your pet may face in the future because of their breed or other underlying cause. For example, rats are prone to respiratory illnesses and mammary tumors, and your vet can give you tips on how to prevent and manage these.
You can also ask your vet for recommendations on food, treats, bedding, and more.
Finding a veterinarian who specializes in birds and other exotic animals is essential when it comes to getting them the best care. Make sure to research nearby vet offices and ask your family, friends, shelter, or rescue for recommendations on what would be the best fit for your exotic or avian pet.
You should also look for an emergency clinic with 24/7 availability in case your pet falls seriously ill and your main clinic is closed.
Pet owners may struggle with covering high vet bills, and many times, they are put in the devastating position of choosing between potentially life-saving treatment for their pet or going into debt.
We believe that every pet parent should be able to give their pets the best care possible. Pet insurance is one way to help reduce the costs and make treatments and checkups more affordable.
The best time to get pet insurance is as soon as you adopt your pet. Pet insurance providers offer the most affordable quotes and comprehensive coverage when your pet is young and healthy since most providers typically exclude pre-existing conditions and might exclude necessary coverage for health issues when your pet is aging and ill.
Want to learn more about pet insurance coverage? Look to our top providers here.
Along with unconditional love and attention, your new family member will need some important supplies:
Coverage for avian and exotic pets is harder to find (currently, only Nationwide offers it) but it can help you cover treatments, procedures, check-ups, and more. The best time to buy pet insurance is when thay are young and healthy, which ensures you'll receive the best coverage.
There are some important steps you'll have to make after you bring your new pet home, such as buying essential items (food, cage, carriers, toys, blankets, etc), begin training and socializing, and make an appointment with the vet to get an overall assessment of their health.