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Understanding Small Pet Nutrition

Understanding small pet nutrition is the greatest thing you can do for your little friend. It is the cornerstone of maintaining good health - a badly nourished pet can easily be prone to obesity, overgrown teeth, and diarrhea.

As a responsible pet owner, your first assignment is to thoroughly research on your small pet's dietary requirements. Experienced owners, the internet, and a vet that has significant knowledge on exotic pets are good starting points in understanding small pet nutrition.

In understanding small pet nutrition, you should know that while small pets like rabbits, mice, rats, and guinea pigs are predominantly herbivores, each has its own dietary requirements that's unique from the others. Rats, for example, require a high fiber diet that can be satisfied by commercial mouse and rat food, along with small amounts of fruits, vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, apples, and seeds. Guinea pigs, on the other hand, do best with pellets, unlimited grass hay, and vegetables. Unlike rats, guinea pigs do not digest nuts and seeds well, so better stay out of it if you have these pigs as pets.

Rabbits have similar nutritional requirements as guinea pigs. Rabbits love pellets, apples, green vegetables, and will love your forever if you give them their regular dose of carrots. Remember, though, not to give large amounts of greens to your pet rabbit, as this may lead to stomach pains and diarrhea. But take note of this: while rabbits and guinea pigs have similar nutritional needs, never ever feed guinea pigs with rabbit pellets because these may contain antibiotics that can be toxic to your little pig.

Also important to keep in mind in understanding small pet nutrition is to feed commercial treats to your little pet - regardless if it's a guinea pig, rat, or rabbit - in moderation. Many of the prevailing commercial treats are simply empty calories but contain loads of fat and sugar that may interfere with your pet's nutritional needs. Rats, in particular, are very fond of sweets and pastries, so if you choose to give them commercial treats, then remember not to overfeed them with these.

Moreover, rats, guinea pigs, and rabbits share this habit of eating their droppings. Do not be alarmed at all when you see you pet doing this because this is their natural way of making sure that nutrients are properly absorbed in their bodies. Coprophagy, as this behavior is called, is important in understanding small pet nutrition. You see, these small pets, while herbivores like cows and carabaos, do not have the same complicated ruminant digestive system. To compensate for this, small pets like guinea pigs and rabbits excrete soft caecal pellets made of partially digested food, which they consume immediately. When these pellets pass through their digestive system the second time, nutrients are absorbed properly.

Nutrition is a vast and complex matter in small pets. There are different schools of thought and perceptions on how a small pet should be fed. Do not be easily swayed by a single view on how to nourish your small pet. Research is a powerful key in understanding small pet nutrition.