A quick quiz all about our small pets

Of these 9 statements, 6 are TRUE and 3 are FALSE – but can you work out which is which? Keep scrolling down to find out the answers and to discover how well you’ve done… 1. Rats laugh when you tickle them.  2. Guinea pigs have an odd number of toes.  3. Mice enjoy being around noise and vibrations.  4. Gerbil dads have nothing
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5th December 2019

Of these 9 statements, 6 are TRUE and 3 are FALSE – but can you work out which is which? Keep scrolling down to find out the answers and to discover how well you’ve done...

1. Rats laugh when you tickle them. 

2. Guinea pigs have an odd number of toes. 

3. Mice enjoy being around noise and vibrations. 

4. Gerbil dads have nothing to do with the upbringing of youngsters. 

5. Compared to other rodents, degus need lots of high-quality feeding hay as part of their daily diet. 

6. Chinchillas love to spend around 20 minutes each day in the bath. 

7. Hamster cheek pouches don't contain saliva glands.

8. Rabbits should eat a carrot a day. 

9. Although ferrets are a member of the Mustelid family, which also includes weasels, stoats, martens, mink, badgers and otters, they would not be able to survive in the wild


TRUE: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9

FALSE: 3, 4, 8

1. TRUE Loyal and loving rats can become devoted to their human and, once confident in your company, will happily sit in your lap or on your shoulder, grinding their teeth to show they are quite content – this is called ‘bruxing’ and is similar behaviour to a cat purring. And, just like people, rats laugh when they’re happy, for example when they play with each other and when they’re being tickled by their human. This phenomenon was discovered in the 1990s by neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp, but you’d need to borrow his bat detector to listen to their ultrasonic chirps, which, sadly our human ears can’t hear.

2. TRUE Guinea pigs have four toes on their front feet, but only three on their back ones. While this arrangement may be good for tunnelling and burrowing, it means piggies are not very agile and are very poor climbers, only managing to scale low-pitched ramps. They are, however, very inquisitive, so make sure there are no hazards within their environment that will cause curious cavies to injure themselves.

3. FALSE In fact, the opposite is true. It’s essential that you choose a quiet area of your home to site your mouse house – somewhere that’s safely away from other pets, out of draughts and direct sunlight and from TVs and music systems. Sensitive mice find noise and vibrations very stressful.

4. FALSE Gerbils are great parents. In the wild, young gerbils spend a lot of time with their mum and dad, learning key life skills to enable them to survive and live healthily in the wild – they even pick up what they can or cannot eat from watching their parents and other family members. Gerbil dads are also involved in the upbringing of youngsters – they gather nesting materials to protect them, clean them, and show them how to gather food and materials for themselves.

5. TRUE In the wild, degus – who are native to northern and central Chile and live high up in the Andes mountain range – survive on grass and other green vegetation, bark and seeds. In fact, compared to other rodents, degus need to consume large amounts of fibre – that’s why, at Burgess, we refer to them as ‘fibrevores’. Each day, you need to provide your degus with their body size in high quality feeding hay to enable their digestive systems to function properly. Chomping on plenty of fresh, tasty hay will also help your degus’ dental health by keeping their continuously growing teeth at the correct length and shape.

6. TRUE. However, not a bath with water in it! What your chinchillas require is a sand bath – but always use specialist chinchilla sand in a sturdy, wide bowl about 10cm deep – ordinary sandpit or builders’ sand is too coarse and will damage fur and skin. In the wild, chinchillas use fine sand to keep their coats clean and in prime condition and providing them with a sand bath every day will enable your chins to exhibit this natural behaviour.

7. TRUE. Native to the arid landscapes of Syria and Turkey, hamsters evolved their cheek pouches so they could take full advantage of food wherever it happens to turn up. As it's not always practical to eat what you’ve found right there and then – particularly if you’re at risk of becoming a hot lunch yourself – it makes perfect sense to stuff it in your cheeks to take back to your burrow to eat it later in safety. This is a natural behaviour that our pet hamsters continue to do. Hamster cheek pouches don't contain saliva glands, so everything is kept fresh and dry during transit.

8. FALSE Perhaps it’s Bugs Bunny’s fault that we associate carrots as being the perfect food for our rabbits. In fact, rabbits don’t naturally eat root vegetables and feeding them carrots could lead to a visit to the bunny doctor.The ideal rabbit diet should consist of: 80% (at least) unlimited grass (not grass cuttings) or high quality feeding hay (not bedding hay, which may have poor nutritional value), 15% should be a variety of rabbit-safe leafy greens, vegetables and herbs such as, kale, mint and dandelion leaves and 5% of pelleted rabbit food – which is about one egg cup a day.

9. TRUE Images of ferret-like animals on leashes have been discovered on the walls of Egyptian tombs, which suggests that these slinky little carnivores have been human companions for thousands of years. It’s thought that they were first introduced to Britain around 2,000 years ago by the Romans.Ferrets are domesticated animals – which means they have been adapted from wild species (most likely the European polecat and the Steppe polecat) by humans to fulfil specific requirements – primarily to flush out rabbits from burrows. Today, as pets, they are endlessly entertaining and respond well to human interaction and affection. And, because they are domesticated, ferrets need to be cared for by humans and would not be able to survive in the wild.

How did you score?

8-9: Best in Show

6-7: Highly Commended

5 or less: Wooden Spoon 

If you found this interesting, you may also like:

Wheek-wheeking, bruxing, dooking, chirping, binkying, popcorning – there are all sorts of ways our pets tell us they’re feeling good, once you know what to look for...

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