05/06/2022 09:00 . posted to
(credit: Personal Archive)
Although less common than dogs and cats, rodents are increasingly becoming companions in Brazilian homes. According to the IBGE’s latest estimate, in 2018, about 2.3 million domesticated reptiles and small mammals were found – this group counts rodents. Known for being cute, smart and silent, they can adapt to small spaces and connect with a variety of tutor profiles.
According to Ordinance No. 93 of the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama), which regulates which animals are domestic and can live at home without special authorization, there are six species: rats, chinchillas, guinea pigs, India, hamsters, rats and mice. Other exotic species may also live under human care, such as the capybara, the world’s largest rodent, but, in this case, a license issued by Ibama requires that the site be suitable for the animal.
The most popular are hamsters, chinchillas and guinea pigs, according to veterinarian Matthias Kruger from Exotic Life, a specialized veterinary clinic for wild and exotic animals. Despite this, there are many people who have gerbils, also known as Mongolian squirrels or gerbils, and Merkol or Twister rats, which are commonly used in scientific experiments, which refer to them as “lab rats”. Known in Contrary to what many people believe, rabbits are not part of the group, even though they share many characteristics with rodents and also do not require specific documentation for living in a domestic environment.
“What we see prompting tutors to keep rodents is, above all, practicality,” says Karolina Vittorino, a biologist and veterinarian at the Mundo Silvestre Clinic specifically for wild and exotic animals. That is, they require handling that tends to be easier, ie less dependent on care, such as frequent walks. In addition, they do not cause some discomfort, such as barking, which can cause problems with neighbors.
Another important point is that rodents require less space at home, as most of them only need cages and other small enclosures. “You can raise a hamster in a relatively small cage, which is an inappropriate place for a dog, but which, for a hamster, would be a castle”, compares Karolina.
Most rodents are nocturnal and, with increasingly intense routines, this is often the period when people are available to interact with and care for the animals. This is the case of Ryan Castro responsible for the hamsters Geraldo and Douglas. Since November last year, when Roberta, also a hamster, was born, the student has been interested in the little rodents. The rodent, who had cubs available for adoption, died last week, but not without leaving a mark on the life of Ryan, who has bonded with the tiny animal.
In addition to his love for pets, Ryan says he thinks it’s a positive that they sleep during the day, because that’s when he studies and works. Thus, at night, the companions are awake and, when the student gets home, he can accompany them, either watching them use the wheel, or interacting directly with them. The young man tells that each one has a personality. For example, Douglas is more sociable and affectionate. With three spacious aquariums that are regularly equipped and cleaned, hamsters live comfortably and happily.
Although they require less space than dogs and larger animals, each rodent has different characteristics and different demands on their enclosures. Veterinarian Matthias Kruger explains: “Each species has a need. For example, guinea pigs are cued to live in a one-story environment and have fun”. Therefore, the teacher must pay close attention to demanding rodents, because even though they have many common characteristics, they do not demand equal treatment.
And, contrary to what many people believe, cages are not suitable for animals such as hamsters and gerbils. In these cases, the ideal is that they are built in glass terrariums, which are nothing more than an aquarium with a substrate on the ground that they can dig into, and with environmental enrichment, such as wheels and spaces adapted to them. There are. “The cages can injure the feet, which, in constant contact with the grid, can become injured”, explains Matthias.
Another important point to note is that rodents are extremely sensitive to heat. “The environment they live in may not be drafty, but it should be fresh and well ventilated, as they tend to have strong smelling urine”, warns veterinarian Karolina Vittorino.
Owners should pay attention to certain aspects of rodent health. According to veterinarian Matthias, due to an inadequate diet, digestive and dental problems are usually championed in consultation. Just because the animal is a vegetarian does not mean that simply consuming the leaves without planning will suffice. This can lead to many nutritional changes and deficiencies. To avoid such problems, the veterinarian recommends: “Before or at the beginning of caring for the animal, there should be an orientation consultation in order to obtain the correct orientation and to guarantee its well-being”.
Karolina Vittorino reinforces that even a consultation with a specialized vet can guarantee a long life expectancy. “In the case of animals that never go to the vet, we see that they die very quickly”, he says. Without proper monitoring, many mistakes can happen, such as, for example, the tutor not knowing that he should be supplementing vitamin C in a guinea pig.
Other common problems are dental, such as the growth of teeth in some rodents, and dermatological problems, such as scabies and fungal infections, especially if they are bought at fairs or breeders without proper hygiene and safety standards. Therefore, it is important to take responsibility and do a careful analysis before deciding to bring them home.
responsibility and love
The story of Isabella Klein, the banker, is the story of a responsible and committed teacher with animals. Because of her love for animals, today she is also a student of veterinary medicine and is making space at home to take better care of them. “Crazy for animals”, as she describes herself, Isabella has been defending in the streets for many years. He has fish, turtles and other species. The story with rodents began through the Instagram profile @clubinhodapenelope, a group specializing in cat rescue, that released a guinea pig that was discarded in a cardboard box. “It was love at first sight,” he says.
Danny, as he was baptized, a month later, received another little pig, Elvis, for company. Rodents are animals that cannot live alone, but contact with other species such as dogs and cats is not recommended, as it can be dangerous for them. Isabella never lets Danny and Elvis interact with the three cats and three dogs living in the house. About living together, the bank teller: “They’re afraid, it’s not like dogs and cats, but because of that, when they come to you, it feels like an accomplishment, precisely because they’re more difficult.” And that’s how I got to know more about the world of rodents”.
Following Danny and Elvis, the banker adopts four elderly Mongolian squirrels. She says that it was difficult to deal with health problems due to old age, but it always involved a lot of love, which compensated for everything. “It’s amazing how we can love such a small animal so much”, he gets emotional. Another species that entered the lives of Isabella and her husband, Amir Khodar, were Twister rats, whom the owners describe as fun, affectionate and smart. Today, he plans to keep the chinchilla. “There is no greater joy than to see a little pig popping or a mouse wagging its tail like a dog, because it heard our voices.”
*Interns under the supervision of Sibele Negromonte