Obesity in Pets: Don’t Let Polly Have Too Many Crackers

Obesity is a major health issue in the United States, and doctors are working hard to counter the many health effects that being overweight can have on people. However, overweight pets also suffer from health issues. If you allow it, one exotic pet that will eat itself into an early grave is the parrot.

Obesity in Parrots and Other Exotic Birds

Actually, this applies to various bird species and many varieties of parrot. Why are birds so prone to obesity?

We love our pets and want them to be happy. Pets always seem to be happy when we give them food, right? So we end up feeding them way too much, and most birds don’t know when to say no.

The truth is that when a bird spends most of the day in a cage, it gets bored. Guess what a bird does when it gets bored? The same thing we do. It forages around and eats.

If a person makes it into his or her middle years without ever having a healthy diet or exercise, it can be difficult to make a lifestyle change, even if a doctor says that it is vital for the person’s health and well-being. The same is true for a parrot. If your bird lives for 10, 20, or more years eating anything it wants while living a sedentary life, it is going to be tough to teach that old bird some new tricks. It is better to train your feathered friend starting at a young age.

But don’t give up if you have an older bird. It’s really important to encourage a healthy lifestyle for your pet in order to avoid things like arthritis and diabetes (yes, birds get those too).

How can you keep your pet in shape? Try a pellet diet instead of always using seed. Also, if you can’t let your pet fly around your home—sometimes a bird’s wings may have been clipped, depending on where or how you got it—at least let it out to walk around outside its cage every day.

If you are putting your pet on a diet, keep in close touch with your vet so what you do is done in a safe manner.

Keeping Your Pet Rodent Happy

Unfortunately, when most people think about the word rodent, they reach for the phone to call the exterminator. While you don’t want an infestation in your home, many varieties of rodents make excellent pets. Sometimes people forget that favorites such as gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, and chinchillas are all rodents. Plus, domesticated mice and rats are some of the best pets you can ever have.

Today we are going to talk about what a pet rodent needs in order to be happy, and to stay engaged.

Community Dwellers

Most rodent species love to be in groups or at least to have one good buddy, so unless you plan to spend a few hours per day with your pet rodent, you may want to get two or more. Obviously, unless you plan on breeding, you are going to want your pets to be of the same gender. There are a couple of exceptions to the rule. Female guinea pigs will get along a lot better than males in close quarters. Hamsters are the one antisocial rodent, so if you have more than one, they should have separate dwellings.

Be careful not to overcrowd your pets. They may love company, but two rodents will need double the space of one in order to thrive.

Additional Needs of a Rodent

  • Light – Most rodents sleep during the day. Don’t leave the cage in direct sunlight or they may get too hot (not to mention an overdose of vitamin D). They need a place in the cage to hide from the light as needed, or you may end up with a stressed-out little companion.
  • Bedding – What you use for bedding will change from pet to pet, but the key is to change it out frequently enough to keep ammonia from building up. Don’t change all of the bedding at once, or your pet will think you moved them to a completely new home. Smell is important to rodents.
  • Toys – Your rodents will be a little calmer and less likely to attempt an escape if they have something to play with, something to gnaw on, and places to burrow.

It really doesn’t take a lot to keep rodents happy. You may find they are very enjoyable pets.