DIY Toys for Rodents

Critter toys from the pet shop can get expensive, so here are some great do-it-yourself ideas and instructions on how to make unique toys your mice, rats, hamsters, and other small animals will love!  Keep in mind when building or creating toys - all materials need to be safe to consume, and try to eliminate any risks of your pet getting caught or strangled in the toy.

Repurposing Other Items
Be creative - your rodent will love it!  Old sanitized baby toys make great hanging and climbing toys.  Some rodents love bells in their playthings, or other jingly bits, but make sure that anything within it cannot be ripped out or swallowed.  Puzzle-like toys with one trapped inside of another are a huge success with my rats, as well as hanging rings large enough for them to fit through.  Old washed milk or water jugs with a door cut out, pots, and paper bowls with holes cut in them are also every-day items that make excellent toys and hides.  Also, if you do visit a pet store in the search for new and interesting toys, don't forget to check the other aisles.  Reptile hides or climbing branches, coconut husks, bird hanging and perching toys, jingling cat toys, woven bird nests and wooden nestboxes, and even fish decorations make wonderful toys for rodents!

The Amazing Cardboard Tube
This is probably the most common plaything for everything small and furry, but there's a lot more you can do with it than just putting a paper towel or toilet paper tube in the cage (although this is frequently enough!).  One great idea is to hang it - run a piece of thin rope through the tube, then tie it to separate points on the roof of the cage, letting it hang low enough that they can reach it.  Make sure you've secured it to take the weight of your pet and then some.  Voila!  You can also hide a treat in the tube, then stuff it on either side with crinkly plain paper, tissues, or toilet paper.  Don't forget the paper itself is an awesome toy for them to rip apart and play with!

Creative Hide-Outs
Tissue boxes with the plastic film removed make terrific hide-outs.  To make it more interesting, you can line up (on top of or next to each other) several small boxes and cut holes for them to open up into each other.  Either attach with a toilet paper tube or a safe-to-consume adhesive.  You can also make mazes out of tubes and small containers!  Other great materials to use for hides and mazes include cardboard boxes (such as cereal boxes or the ones sodas come in), cardboard egg crates large jars or cans that have been thoroughly washed, and even crinkly paper bags.

PVC tubes open up a whole new world of exploration!  You can just put a piece in for them to run through or hide in, or it can lead to a box, another part of the cage, or even to a hammock.  Crinkly tubes are also fun, or you can make your own fabric tube out of fleece or old sleeves or pant legs from clothing.  You can sew in rings of some variety to help it stay open, but make sure however you create it that your little rodent friend can't get stuck in it! 

Popsicle Stick Playgrounds
This is my favorite toy to make, and my favorite one to give, too!  So far I've only used it for mice, but I imagine it would transfer well to other small rodents.  You can find popsicle sticks in bulk for a few bucks at a craft store, and you will also need a hot glue gun and hot glue sticks (Parent supervision!).  Personally I use the plain ones, because I don't know if the dye in colored popsicle sticks is harmful, and mice are colorblind anyways.  :)!  You can make it however complicated, tall, or long as you want, with as many levels as you want, and you can even make two separate structures and connect them with a tube.  It will probably be chewed to shreds in a week or so, so be prepared to throw it out and maybe make a new, different one as needed.  This works great for my mice, since they get a new playground every time, and I don't have to clean it!  Remember to not leave more hot glue exposed than you have to, and pull all the strings off when you're done.  It's safe to use, but if they eat a lot of it blockages could occur simply because it is not digestible.

Here are some examples of structures I've built, feel free to copy:

Making squares and then adding sideways sticks allows you to make more platforms.  Adding a little nook at the bottom also lets one pet hide underneath the toy while others climb upwards.

The simple hut with a door.  You can glue the sticks slightly apart so you can see inside if you'd like, while still giving them the feel of privacy.

My mice love to sleep in the tube!  Don't forget that the tops of toys can be just as much fun as the middle, so little platforms up top can be really fun.

This one is awesome!  The more levels, hides, and tunnels, the more fun it is for them to explore!

There you have it!  There are all kinds of entertainment for your little pet just lying around.  Get creative, and watch your them go wild!

See you next time, and happy building!
Miss Mouse
<:3 )~

Adopting Small Animals

Adoption has become pretty widespread over the years, and more and more people are turning to local shelters to find their new dog or cat - but did you know that there are tons of shelters out there for small animals, too?

If you look around you'll find rescues for rabbits, rats, reptiles, name it.

How do you find them?
 They can sometimes hide right under your nose.  Checking petfinder and asking your local pet shops, pound, and SPCA can be a great start.  Small animal shelters also sometimes post pets for adoption or advertise on craigslist, or perhaps in the local paper's classifieds.  You can also do a simple Google search for your city, state, or area and the animal you are looking to adopt.  Don't toss out phone numbers you find for rescues of the wrong sort of animal - a rabbit rescue might know more about local cavy rescues, or the rat adoptions in the area, etc.

What do they cost?
  Adopting a small animal from a shelter will certainly not be as hard on your wallet as adopting a dog or cat, since they don't usually require the same kind of care to prepare them for going to a new home.  It's quite possible, however, that a rare or neglected reptile or exotic might run you a pretty penny, but it's very rare that it would cost more than buying the animal from a pet shop - they want to find it a new home, after all!  In the end it will depend on the rescue.  Some rescues will give pets away for free provided you are a responsible pet owner, and some run on adoption fees to keep their animals fed and medicated.  Don't be afraid to ask!

Nonprofit shelters versus individual rescuers
 There is a difference between a nonprofit rescue organization and a person who takes in homeless or needy animals.  It's not necessarily wrong to adopt from the latter, as they are frequently good people just trying to help the animals, but they are generally on a smaller scale with much more limited means to care for the creatures they take in.  This means they will have fewer animals (one hopes), and will often run the rescue from their home.  There is NOTHING wrong with private rescues and there are numerous excellent ones out there, but I urge you to check out the owner and their setup before agreeing to adopt.  There are a few "rescues" out there that simply buy up pets from their pet shops and adopt them out.

Nonprofit rescues receive tax exempt status from the government, can accept tax-deductible donations, and are more likely to receive sponsorship from local businesses.  What this means is that people are usually more willing to donate to them, so their financial means that allow them to care for animals and acquire a facility for them are slightly more optimistic.  This allows a nonprofit to care for a greater number of animals, and to have volunteers without having to invite people into their home.  A nonprofit organization is a much more active entity in the community, and are generally held to higher standards as such.

So what does this mean?  Not much, ha, except that it's important to realize the differences between the two forms of small animal rescues so you know what to expect, what to look for, and if your adoption fee or donations are tax deductible.  A nonprofit animal rescue is an organization, whereas a private rescue is usually a person.

How to pick a new pet from a rescue
  Use the same standards you would when selecting from a pet shop, allowing for any permanent injuries that may have resulted from previous care.  A good rescue will not adopt out a pet that still needs care or is not ready for a new home - some illnesses you bring home could transfer to another pet, so all animals should be healthy.

Look for clear eyes, appropriately textured skin, no missing scales, fur, or feathers.  Before you adopt, ask about the diet the animal is being kept on, special care requirements, and if anything is known about its stay with its previous owner.  Why was it given up?  How does it get along with any other pets you might have?  Has it been quarantined to check for important behavioral cues or illness, or is it brand new to the shelter?

Do Adopt, Do Not Adopt
DO ADOPT if the animal is healthy, appropriately energetic, and socialized.
DO ADOPT if you have a cage or setup already ready, and the means to maintain care.
DO ADOPT if the rescue seems clean, professional, and legitimate.

DO NOT ADOPT if the animal is still sick, malnourished, or has open wounds.
DO NOT ADOPT if the animal has not been quarantined away from the other rescue animals.
DO NOT ADOPT if the rescue owner seems unprofessional or is buying the animals from shops.
DO NOT ADOPT if the rescue area or cages seem inappropriately dirty and unsanitary.
DO NOT ADOPT if you don't already have a place and the time/money for the animal - spontaneous buys lead to numerous animals placed up for adoption.  If needed, take a few days to think it over first and ask the person to keep the animal reserved for you in that time.

I hope you consider adoption for your next animal, or maybe someday start your very own Rescue!

Thanks for reading!
Miss Mouse
<:3 )~


This is my first post!

This blog will be largely about small animals as pets, including (but definitely not limited to!):
Cats and Dogs
Guinea Pigs
Rats, Mice, Gerbils, Hamsters, and more exotic small rodents
Birds (I will make a sincere effort not to talk out my rear – all I have experience in here are zebra finches and chickens)
Reptiles, especially snakes
Fish, largely freshwater
Arachnids and other inverts
And…despite this being a small animals blog, I might occasionally throw in a factoid or two about larger animals like goats, equines, or weirder stuff.  :)

This blog will encompass experience with my own pets, information I’ve uncovered along the way, new news relating to small pets, interesting facts, proper care and techniques, great products and toys, how to make your own creative toys and habitats, and other wonderful information.

Right now my home is occupied by many more pets than people – I currently keep two tarantulas, two yellow rat snakes, one Colombian rainbow boa, three rats, three fish tanks, one Californian rabbit, two cats, and a zillion billion trillion mice (I breed them as a hobby).  I’ve worked in a shelter for three years, an animal research lab for one, and a horse shelter for a summer.  Pretty much my life revolves around animals!  I love it, though, and that’s why I’m here – to share my knowledge with you and to learn even more along the way!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the blog!