Vets and Pets

Q: My two guinea pigs have muesli and enjoy eating carrots, lettuce and grass, but they don’t like cabbage. I know green vegetables are important for their diet, so is there anything else that I can feed them?

A: Vets don’t recommend guinea pig muesli as it can contribute to two key health problems – painful dental disease and obesity. The muesli doesn’t help to wear guinea pigs’ teeth down, and they also tend to selectively eat their favourite bits, which can cause nutrient deficiencies. Instead, your guinea pigs’ daily diet should consist of constant access to good quality hay or grass, a teacup of fresh greens and a small amount of shop-bought guinea pig nuggets As long as you give a variety of greens every day, such as broccoli, spinach and rocket, it won’t matter too much if they don’t eat much cabbage. Other vegetables like salad peppers and tomatoes are also good for them.

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Q: I have two six-month-old dwarf hamsters and their nails seem to be quite long. Do I need to get them trimmed, and is there anything I can put in the cage to help?

A: The ends of the nails should be level with the pads of the feet, so if they are curling round further than this you should trim the ends. If the nails are pale, you should be able to see a pinkish line running through the centre. This is called the quick, and is a blood vessel and nerve. You shouldn’t trim as far back as this because the nail will bleed and be painful. Ask your vet or a local groomer to show you how to trim your hamsters’ nails. Encouraging activity will help wear the nails down, so make sure they have a large cage with plenty of things to do, including an exercise wheel.