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Nutrition Requirements for Small Pets by Species

Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
Small Pet Care: Mice & Rats 
New Small Pet: Is a Rodent Right for You? 
Nutrition Requirements for Small Pets by Species 
Rats & Mice
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Small Pet Nutrition
What your small pet eats every day is very important. Think how food affects you - what would happen if you ate nothing but candy bars? It would be yummy, but it wouldn't be very healthy, and you'd end up being very unhealthy! You have to carefully choose what you feed your small pet each day, just like you have to be careful to eat a balanced diet yourself. Below we'll talk about which foods rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs, and other small pets need to eat every day to stay healthy.
Rabbits are herbivores. That means that they only eat plants and don't eat any meat. You should give your adult rabbit these things every day:

Good vegetables to feed are leafy greens, carrots, beet greens, broccoli, and dandelion greens (no pesticides or herbicides).


Guinea Pig Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are also herbivores. Your guinea pig's daily diet is a lot like that of a rabbit, and it should include:

Guinea pigs need food and treats that have lots of Vitamin C because they can't produce Vitamin C in their bodies as many other animals can.

Hamsters have a very basic diet. Every day you should feed your hamster:

Hamsters don't eat a lot of food every day, so make sure to buy only small bags so the food stays fresh. Fruits should be given only occasionally. Fruits and vegetables should be offered as tiny pieces. Small amounts of Timothy Hay can be offered several times a week.


Good vegetables that you can give your hamster are carrots, celery, cauliflower, and broccoli. Don't give your hamster iceberg lettuce, oranges, tomatoes, or uncooked beans.

Gerbil Gerbils
Gerbils are even easier to feed than hamsters are! The only things they absolutely need every day are gerbil food and lots of water. You can feed them small amounts of seeds, fruits, or vegetables every once in a while.

If your chinchilla lived in the wild, she would eat grasses and cacti. But since she is not a wild chinchilla, you should feed her these things every day:

You probably like dessert better than vegetables, and chinchillas are the same way. They like their treats better than their regular food, so only give your chinchilla treats and snacks once in a while, or she won't eat her food.

Rat Rats
Rats need a diet that has lots of fiber and only small amounts of fat. Just like you, if your rat eats lots of fatty foods, it's very unhealthy for her. Every day, you should feed your rat:

Your rat is small, so she only needs very small amounts of vegetables each day. Good veggies include dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, and carrots.

A pet mouse's daily diet is only a little different from a rat's daily diet. Here is what you should feed your pet mouse every day:

Because mice are so small, they only need a tiny amount of fresh fruits and veggies each day. A seed or two can be fed as a treat, but don't feed too much of it! Seeds are high in fat.
Hedgehog Hedgehogs
Hedgehogs are insectivores, which means that they eat bugs. You should feed your hedgehog these things every day:

Hedgehogs are small, so they only need a very little amount of moist food, fruits, and vegetables each day. Be sure not to overfeed your hedgehog. Just like people, your hedgehog will become overweight if he eats too much.

Sugar Gliders
Sugar gliders are omnivores. This means that they eat plants and meat, just like you do. There isn't just one sugar glider diet that you have to feed every day, but the basic diet is:

You can also feed your sugar glider gut-loaded insects once in a while.
Sugar Glider

Ferret Ferrets
Ferrets are "carnivores." This means that they only eat meat-based diets, and they don't eat plants. Your ferret's daily diet is: Never feed your ferret sugary foods, fruits, or vegetables. These things are very unhealthy for ferrets, and they can make them sick. All food and treats should be made from meat like chicken, beef, turkey, and other meats.

Treats for Small Pets
Treats are something that you can give your small pet as a reward or to become friends with her. But the reason they aren't listed above as part of the daily diet is because they should never be given in large amounts. If you eat lots of unhealthy, sugary foods, you'll gain weight and you'll have no energy to run around and play. Treats can do the same things to small pets. Too many treats will make your small pet unhealthy, and she won't be able to do all the things she wants to do. So always remember that treats should only be given once in a while!
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