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Rodents: biology and husbandry

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Abstract

There is an increasing trend for keeping rodents as pets and correspondingly high client expectation that their pet will receive quality veterinary care. As such it is important for the veterinary surgeon in practice to have up-to-date knowledge when dealing with this mammal group. The aim of this chapter is to outline some of the basic biological, anatomical and physiological features of rodents and give information on their basic housing, nutrition, reproduction and preventative healthcare.

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Figures

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1.3 Flank glands on a Syrian hamster.
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1.4 Normal ventral scent gland in a Djungarian or Russian dwarf hamster. (Courtesy of Hannah Orr.)
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1.5 Ventral abdominal scent gland in a gerbil. Note also the obvious testicles in this male.
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1.6 Large seminiferous vesicles in a guinea pig on post-mortem examination.
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1.7 Hooded rat.
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1.9 Golden hamster, wild-type coloration. (© Thomas Kent, National Hamster Council.)
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1.10 Russian Dwarf Campbell hamsters. (© Rosie Ray, National Hamster Council.)
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1.11 Roborovski hamster.
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1.12 Chinese hamster. (© Alex Eames, National Hamster Council.)
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1.13 Agouti or wild-type colour variety of gerbil.
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1.14 English or American guinea pig. Note the short hair coat. (Courtesy of BA Innes, Oatridge College.)
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1.15 Abyssinian guinea pig. Note the rosetted hair coat.
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1.16 Peruvian guinea pig. Note the long hair coat.
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1.17 Black velvet colour variety of chinchilla. (Courtesy of BA Innes, Oatridge College.)
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1.18 Degu showing natural coloration. (Courtesy of BA Innes, Oatridge College.)
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1.19 Obesity is common in rats.
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1.20 Plastic cage housing with linking-tube systems for hamsters.
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1.21 ‘Gerbilarium’.
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1.22 Typical guinea pig housing.
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1.24 Male rat: note long anogenital distance and obvious testicles. Female rat: note short anogenital distance and visible nipples.
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1.25 Male hamster viewed from above, showing rounded perineum and obvious testicular bulges.
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1.26 Female hamster with characteristic post-ovulatory vaginal discharge. Note that this is normal in this species.
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1.27 Male guinea pig: note round preputial orifice and obvious scrotum. Female guinea pig: note Y-shaped anogenital area.
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1.28 Male chinchilla: note large anogenital distance and lack of obvious scrotum. Female chinchilla: note short anogenital distance.

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