Despite their smaller size, pocket pets require just as much care and responsibility as their larger-sized animal friends. So when you adopt a pocket pet from RSPCA Darwin, our staff will take the time to ensure you understand everything about your new companion – from feeding and housing to socialisation and general care.
Remember, any changes in behaviour, defecation, drinking, eating or urination, or weight loss or gain should be checked out with a visit to the veterinarian.
Many rabbits enjoy being patted and handled, especially if you start from a young age. Rabbits are sociable animals, so consider keeping more than one, but ensure both are desexed.
Your rabbit’s hutch should be large, mosquito-proof, secure, and safe from extreme weather conditions and predators. At home, you should also provide her with a ‘burrow’ area to hide in e.g. a box. She will also need daily exercise outside of her hutch for a few hours each day.
Rabbits’ teeth grow continuously and are worn down by constant chewing. They need a diet with a fibre content greater than 18 per cent. Make sure you give your rabbit a constant supply of good quality fresh grass or grass hay e.g. Timothy, oaten and wheaten.
She’ll also need two packed cups of leafy greens (of at least three different varieties) per kilogram of her body weight every day. This could include Asian greens, celery and cabbage. Avoid lettuce, as the high water content can upset their tummy.
Always give her access to fresh, clean water in a dripper-type water bottle.
All rabbits need regular health checks and up-to-date vaccinations for Calicivirus. You’ll also need to treat her at home regularly for fleas and worms.
Rabbits are also susceptible to heatstroke and flystrike, so ensure you monitor her closely in warmer weather.
You should also check her teeth, and some rabbits need help maintaining their coats and nails.
Guinea pigs make fantastic pets due to their small size and quiet nature. They are sociable animals and should not be kept alone.
Your guinea pig’s cage should be as large as possible, with bedding materials such as shredded paper or straw. Remember to change this bedding regularly. His enclosure must be well ventilated and safe from predators. You should also provide him with overturned boxes to hide in and at least two dripper-type water bottles.
Guinea pigs’ teeth grow continuously and need to be worn down by constant chewing. You’ll need to provide your guinea pig with a constant source of grass or grass hay e.g. Timothy, oaten or wheaten.
He’ll also need leafy greens every day e.g., Asian greens, celery and cabbage, and a dietary source of vitamin C. There is usually enough of this in leafy green vegetables. Avoid lettuce, as the high water content can upset their tummy.
Guinea pigs are naturally coprophagic, meaning they eat some of their own droppings.
Some guinea pigs’ coats need regular grooming and their nails may need clipping occasionally.
Guinea pigs do not tolerate heat very well and are vulnerable to heat stress, so be careful where you place your pet’s hutch.
Other common health problems for guinea pigs include bladder stones, overgrown cheek teeth and respiratory disease.
Livestock make amazing companions, but caring for all their needs is important in ensuring they live an enriched and healthy life and may not be possible for everyone.
We offer livestock animals for adoption as both companions and pets. You’ll need to provide suitable property and containment facilities for the type and number of animals you’re looking to adopt. You’ll also need to have the capacity to handle livestock, and have access to equipment to safely and legally transport them to your property.
RSPCA Darwin also recommends you check with your local council and the Department of Primary Industries before adopting livestock, as different restrictions and requirements apply across the state.
All livestock need a diet that meets their nutritional needs, as this will vary throughout the animals’ lifetime. Speak to your veterinarian for information about feeding them the right food.
All animals need access to cool, clean drinking water – be sure to check the temperature on hot days in case the water overheats and becomes undrinkable.
All livestock require the freedom to express their natural behaviours, and benefit from environmental enrichment activities which provide cognitive, dietary, physical, sensory and social stimuli.
Animals who usually live in groups, such as cattle, fowl, goats and sheep usually need social companionship with animals of the same species. This helps them feel secure and helps them express natural behaviours. Plus, try to recreate the environments they enjoy – for example, goats love climbing on rocks and pigs love mud baths.
Fencing and gates will vary depending on the species, ranging from chicken wire to three-metre-high mesh fencing. Ensure these are secure and that the animals are unable to jump over it. You should also think about what animals you need to keep out, such as dogs and foxes.
All animals need shelter to protect them from the weather throughout the year, such as a three-sided, roofed construction. During extreme heat, they must be given shelter which protects them from the sun and allows air to circulate freely. Livestock must have enough space to allow them to exercise freely and express normal behaviours. Larger animals need room to graze and run. Chickens must have room to flap about and dust-bathe, and ducks need a pond so they can swim.
Having your animals seen by a veterinarian is vital. Make sure you can either transport them to a veterinarian or arrange a house visit.
Quarantining new animals, and knowing their medical history and disease status is very important, as is managing and reporting disease outbreaks.
Identification requirements vary with each species and location. You may be required to preregister before adopting or purchasing livestock. Check with the Department of Primary Industry, and your council for any special requirements and restrictions.