Keeping your child safe and healthy around your pet rodent - rat, mouse, guinea pig, hamster, gerbil, etc:
- Children may be at risk from bites and scratches, so to reduce the risk of these:
- Get advice about keeping rodents as pets.
- Make sure your rodent is used to being handled.
- Supervise children’s contact with the pet rodent.
- Teach children how to safely handle and treat the rodent.
- Do not disturb sleeping rodents as they can be quite cranky when awakened!
- Talk to your vet about grooming and claw trimming.
- If a child is bitten or scratched, wash the wound immediately and use disinfectant cream/solution. Always contact your GP if you are worried about a wound or if a wound is not healing properly.
Infectious diseases which can be associated with pet rodents:
- Spread of diseases from rodents to humans is quite rare.
- Guinea pigs, mice and rats can be the source of intestinal illnesses such as salmonella, Campylobacter, Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
- These diseases can be spread by contact with the droppings of an infected animal or by contact with something which has been contaminated with infected droppings.
- To reduce risk of infection:
- Talk to your vet about what is needed to keep your rodent healthy and well.
- Consult your vet if you have any concerns about your rodent’s health.
- Do not feed raw eggs or meat to your pet – uncooked eggs and meat can contain bacteria.
- Wash your hands carefully after handling the animal, its droppings, bedding, cage, bowls or toys – make sure your children do the same.
- When choosing a pet rodent:
- The pet should be lively and alert, with a glossy coat, free of droppings - don’t pick one that is quiet, tired, has diarrhoea, or looks sickly.
- The animal’s breathing should be normal and there should be no discharge from the eyes or nose.
- If one of the animals in the cage in a pet store has diarrhoea or looks sick, the others may have been exposed to an infectious disease, so do not choose any of these animals as your pet.
- If your pet rodent dies, do not use the cage, toys, water/food bowls for a new pet until they have all been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
- For further information about infectious diseases which may be linked with rodents, visit www.hpsc.ie
Information about caring for your pet rodent:
Back to Child safety and health around pets main page
Information on this page is adapted from:
- A healthy pet is a safe pet. House Rabbit Society
- Care of pet mice and rats. www.hilltopanimalhospital.com
Most unintentional injuries (often called accidents) can be prevented:
Remember the key message where child safety is concerned -
Watch your child at all times, as children do not understand danger