Small Furries Advice

From ferrets to chinchillas and mice to guinea pigs


Mice are a prey species and so need plenty of space to hide within their living environment. They like to build nests and so will need plenty of bedding and places to build such as tunnels.

Mice need well-ventilated, dry, warm places to live otherwise they can get ill. They are also excellent escape artists and so need to have a secure living environment that is checked regularly.

Mice should be kept out of direct sunlight as they are very sensitive to light, and should also be preferably kept in a quiet area. They need constant access to fresh drinking water and can become quite ill if they cannot drink.

Mice are omnivores and will eat a wide variety of foods, such as seeds, fruit and vegetables. Grapes, raisins, rhubarb and lettuce are all poisonous to mice and should not be fed! Mice can be mixed with other mice but the living environment should be of a sufficient size to allow them both to forage, dig and exercise. Wild mice can travel hundreds or metres per day. Mice can also breed every 3 weeks so keeping same sex mice is advised!

Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are an increasingly popular pet in the UK and come in a wide variety of colours, coats and sizes. They live for approximately 5 - 6 years.

Guinea pigs needs to be kept in large accommodation, large enough for them to run, stretch out fully and exercise. They are a prey species and so require a place where they can rest and feel safe and secure. They are not very agile and not good climbers, so take care when adding enrichment to their environment.

Guinea pigs should also be protected from extreme temperatures such as very cold or very hot, they should be kept out of direct sunlight in the summer and kept indoors if the temperature drops below 15 degrees centigrade. Guinea pigs like wooden toys to chew on to prevent their teeth from overgrowing so avoid putting in plastic toys, as they could get swallowed and harm the guinea pig.

Much like rabbits, the majority of a guinea pigs diet should be hay and grass. But they must also have a sufficient amount of Vitamin C in their diet so sometimes this should be added to a small portion of dry guinea pig food to ensure that they are getting all nutrients required. Guinea pigs are also naturally sociable and prefer to be with another guinea pig. However, if you are mixing the same sex guinea pig un-neutered guinea pigs can display aggressive behaviour towards each other, and mixing male and females will result in breeding and un-wanted litters. So please neuter your guinea pig to prevent this from happening. Neutering can be carried out from 6 months of age.


Chinchillas are very active during the evening and like lots of space to jump, climb and run. They like to sleep the majority of the day in a cool, well-ventilated area, they must always be housed indoors.

A dust bath must be provided for chinchillas to bath in daily to keep their coat in good condition.

Chinchillas need plenty of places to hide within their environment if they get scared. Chinchillas like toys made of wood, rope and cardboard to play with and chew, if chinchillas don’t have enough enrichment they can get very bored and develop behavioural problems. Chinchillas require a small amount of hay daily to keep their digestive systems functioning properly, and can be fed a dry pellet diet. They are very sociable animals and need to be housed with at least 1 other friendly chinchilla, however if more than 1 chinchilla is kept together they must both have separate sleeping areas and adequate space to get away from each other if required.


Ferrets are becoming an increasingly popular pet in the UK, and not just for hunting purposes but as a friendly and intelligent pet.

Ferrets live for 8 - 10 years and come in a variety of colours, such as albino, polecat, champagne, cream, and many more combinations. If ferrets are handled from a young age they become quite used to humans and can become a very good companion.


Ferrets are naturally inquisitive and need lots of things to do and explore in their environment. Ferrets usually sleep for up to 20 hours a day and are most active at Dusk.

Ferrets need a large living environment that is secure and prevents escape! They are very agile good climbers and can squeeze through the smallest spaces, so regular checks of their living environment should be carried out to prevent losing your pet. New challenges should be introduced daily such as toys and tunnels, ferrets that get bored can quickly develop behaviour problems and become ill. You could put toys on a rotation basis to prevent having to buy new toys daily.

Ferrets are also very clean animals and their toilet area should be cleaned at least once daily. Ferrets do not do well in extreme temperatures, so should be sheltered from the elements in the winter and kept out of direct sunlight in the summer, some ferrets even like a little swim or paddle to cool down! Plenty of bedding such as blankets and t-shirts should also be provided.


Ferrets need constant access to fresh drinking water as they drink quite a lot, and are strictly carnivores – they cannot be vegetarians.

Feeding ferrets ad-lib is better than one or two meals a day as they need to eat little but often due to a high metabolism. They can be fed a meat based diet of dry pellets, but sometimes mixing with a little water can make them easier to eat for younger ferrets.


Ferrets need to be vaccinated yearly against Canine distemper which can be carried out at your local South Wales Vets from 10 weeks old.

Contact your local South Wales Vets Branch to book an appointment.


Many ferrets enjoy company of another ferret, but some prefer to live on their own. If you have more than one ferret, ensure that there is adequate space in their living environment for them both to have their own space but also mix if they would like.

If you are mixing the same sex of ferret, un-neutered ferrets can display aggressive behaviour towards each other, and mixing male and females will result in breeding and un-wanted litters. So please neuter your ferret to prevent this from happening. Neutering can be carried out from 6 months of age.


Ferrets can be neutered from 6 months. Jills and Hobbs have a few neutering options available to you.

Hobbs - Males

  • Suprelorin Implant-This is the same principle as in females and is the preferred option. It reduces the male sex hormones.
  • Castration-This is the removal of both of the testicles under a general anaesthetic. As with females this is going out of favour due to risks of adrenal disease. 

Jill’s – Females

Jill’s are induced-ovulators and must be mated in order to ovulate. This means if a Jill is not mated she will remain in season for several months. They can suffer from weight loss and also bone marrow suppression due to the oestrogen levels. This can lead to a life threatening anaemia. There are a few options to prevent these dangerous problems:

  • Suprelorin hormonal implant-This is injected in the scruff of the neck and is usually done annually. It is not a permanent solution. It is a synthetic GnRH implant which reduces the production of certain hormones resulting in a chemical neutering. Current science recommends this as the best option.
  • The “Jill Jab”- This is a hormonal injection and will delay oestrus for several months. It is usually given at the start of the mating season.
  • Neutering-This is the removal of the ovaries and uterus under a general anaesthetic. There has been increasing concern recently with adrenal disease as a result of neutering in ferrets and it is going out of favour.
  • Allow the Jill to mate and have a litter.
  • Allow the Jill to mate with a vasectomised (infertile) male which will end oestrus without producing a litter.

Please contact your local South Wales Vets for a free pre-op check to discuss your options with one of our vets.