Why shouldn’t I free-roam my rodent outdoors?
Author: Christine, of Crittery Exotics
Although it makes for lovely photos, allowing your pet rodent outside is hugely risky and stressful for them, and brings them very little benefit. Free-roaming outside is only good for larger animals such as Guinea Pigs (Rodents) or Rabbits (Lagomorpha) and even then is best in an enclosed run to ensure safety.
For most rodents, the main risks of allowing them outdoors are the following:
- Disease Risk Domesticated hamsters, mice, rats and others will not have any immunity to the outdoor disease and parasites this will expose them to. As they are prey animals, the increased stress of putting them in an open and unfamiliar place also lowers their immune response. The chances of ringworm and mite infestations are increased and grass and plants may have been treated with pesticides.
- Stress and Predator Risks As above, free roaming outside is a very stressful thing for a rodent, as they will be able to smell the trails left by predators and have no awareness of safe places or familiar scents. Rodents conceal signs of stress very well to human eyes. Dogs, Cats and Birds all pose a danger to your hamster and accidents can occur in seconds.
Your pet does not benefit from access to outdoor space, and it is possible to safely replicate some of the positive benefits indoors - such as growing grass and herbs in a controlled way and allowing your pet digging boxes full of safe soil.
It's also possible with a lot of research to setup a bioactive enclosure for your rodent, involving rodent-safe plants and a 'clean-up crew' of insects to help manage waste.
Christine runs Crittery Exotics.About Crittery