Daily Care and Maintenance
Properly taking care of your small animal will contribute to it leading a long and healthy life. That includes keeping your small animal on a regular schedule, properly cleaning their cage and giving them fresh water daily.
Rodents depend on routine to reduce stress. You need to plan your routine before your bring your pet home. These small animals operate on 12-hour cycles. You need to know whether or not your animal is nocturnal, diurnal or both so you can schedule accordingly. You also need to know how frequently your pet should be fed — generally they require feeding either once or twice a day.
Small animals that are active during the day are easy to fit into your regular schedule. They need to be fed before their most active day time, so you can give them food before you leave the house in the morning and, if needed, a second meal in the evening. Your pet rodents will need exercise and play outside of the cage every day as well, which you can do in the evening or before bedtime.
For nocturnal animals, you'll have to synchronize your schedule to their daily rhythms. Pet-owners find that an effective schedule happens when you wake your pets in the evening for feeding and play time. Then you can clean out the cage and, if needed, give them another meal when you wake in the morning.
Every day, you'll need to make sure they get plenty of water. Plan on giving them fresh water at least 3–4 times a day. You'll also need to wash their food and water containers with soap and water daily and remove any soiled substrate or feces from the cage. You can add a little more material to replace whatever you remove.
Once a week, you need to remove your pet(s) from the cage and thoroughly clean and disinfect it. Throw out all the substrate material in the cage and thoroughly wash every surface with soap and warm water. You also need to clean any toys, including the tunnel tubes, running wheel and chew toys. Then disinfect the cage with either a commercial product you can find in a pet store or a solution made of chlorine diluted in water. Be sure to rinse away the cleaner completely as any residual amounts can be harmful to your pet(s). Then replace the cage and put in all new substrate material, remount the water bottle(s) and the cage is ready for another week of living.