guinea pig

Animal centres should have designated small animal rooms, both for new arrivals and adoption. This room should be located so that they are not experiencing a possible threat from other predator species such as cats and dogs. If this is not an option, ensure cages are elevated, away from other species, and not placed in a high traffic area.

Being able to see, hear, or smell potential predators, would be quite stressful. For example, ferrets are predators to many small animals so they should be housed as far away as possible from other rodents.

Circadian Rhythm & Natural Light

The following has been adapted from material on the Best Friends website. Providing the appropriate natural circadian rhythm cycle for the species can enrich the environment in which the small animal is exposed. Irregular patterns or continuous light or darkness are stressful to animals.

Many small animals are nocturnal and sleep during daylight hours. Being nocturnal means that they are active starting in the late evening, and go to sleep in the early morning. In an ideal environment, small animals should be placed in a room that gets plenty of natural light without placing them directly in the sun. A bright, climate-controlled room that does not require a lot of artificial lighting will create the most natural environment.

Sunlight is extremely important to birds’ health and well-being. Birds need natural sunlight for Vitamin D production, hormone balance, and organ, skin and feather health. While we can try to emulate natural light in captivity, there is no substitute for the real deal. A minimum of 30 minutes of direct sunlight exposure per week is recommended for adequate Vitamin D production, but the more you can give them, the better.


Some small animals and birds enjoy their own reflection. For example, rabbits are very social. When rabbits have to be kept singly, a mirror may offer some comfort, particularly for females. For birds, the addition of a mirror in the cage can create the illusory presence of a buddy. However, this effect can be short-lived and should only be used for a limited period of time until an actual companion can be introduced (where applicable). Ensure that the mirrors are non-breakable and properly secured within the cage.


Not only are mazes mentally stimulating for small animals using them, but they are fun for us humans as well, as we assemble them or watch them in use. They can be made using things such as PVC piping and connectors or from simple paper towel rolls. Treats or food can be placed inside the maze to further enrich the small animal. They will be reliant on their sight (as well as other senses) to navigate their way through the maze.

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