Q. What size cage is best for your rat?
A. The ideal rat cage should be made of powder-coated wire and should measure at least 760 x 450 x 470mm (this size will accommodate five adult male rats or six adult female rats). Wire cages are preferred, as aquariums cause high humidity and a lack of ambient air. The rats’ preferred humidity is 50-70%. Rats need fresh air flowing through their cage to lessen the impact of the smell of ammonia from urine, which will cause respiratory health issues.
Wire cages will also allow the rat to climb, which is a natural behaviour for them. Wire floors in the cage are not suitable as the rat can develop a condition called bumble foot (especially heavy adult males). A rat’s cage environment can be enriched with toys and things to climb on or swing from. Wooden toys made for parrots work perfectly well for rats too.
Q. How to care for your chickens in the best possible way
A. When you really love animals, often a dog and cat are just not enough. Chickens can make great pets, provided you have the means, time and space to care for them. As with any pet, it is extremely important to do your research beforehand. That way you’ll know exactly what you need to do to keep your chicks in the best condition.
Caring for your chickens
- Shelter Just like any other pets, chickens need shelter from extreme temperatures. Ensure that their coop is insulated but still well ventilated. In the garden they need to have access to shade, as well as shelter from cold temperatures.
- Predators Make sure that your chickens will be safe from dogs, or any predator who would be tempted to catch them.
- Veterinary care Chickens can also become ill and get injured. Make sure that you have access to a poultry vet in your area before you get your chickens.
- Holiday time You will need someone to take care of your chickens when you go away. Someone has to be available to provide food and fresh water, and to put them into their safe shelter at night. You can always pay them with eggs!
- Feeding Although chickens are omnivores, it is not recommended that you simply feed them scraps from your kitchen. They do need a healthy, balanced diet. Apart from their regular feed, chickens will enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables as well as grains, but ensure that you don’t give them something that could put their health at risk (see box), and avoid giving them any mouldy food. Your chickens need to have access to fresh water at all times.
- Keeping clean Chickens can become the victims of infectious diseases, and therefore it is of utmost importance to keep their living space clean. Regularly remove manure and clean out food and water containers.