In many households, wiggling noses appear on the cage doors just in time for the free running time. Paws are pushed through the bars, there and there are excited squeaks. For many guinea pigs, chinchillas, and other small animals, the daily free run is a highlight that they can hardly wait for. Leaving the familiar environment should not only satisfy the animals’ urge to move, but also provide variety.
In addition, running outdoors strengthens the bond between people and animals – because when else can you play around with people and get used to them? The living room at home is incredibly exciting for rodents and rabbits, but unfortunately also quite dangerous if it is not secured. What is completely harmless to us can mean a risk of injury to small animals. That is why people are required before the free-run. Make sure that the free-run is a safe place where your protégés can jump around and go on a discovery tour.
What Dangers Lurk in Freewheeling?
As the name suggests, rodents have a habit that is annoying for humans: they gnaw on everything that gets in the way of their teeth. Many animals spare the furnishings, but some small animals get weak with wallpaper and cables.
While plucking wallpaper is annoying but not threatening, it becomes really dangerous with cables. The pleasurable nibble can result in an electric shock, which unfortunately usually leads to the death of the animal. Cables should therefore be brought to safety either in cable ducts or behind a barrier.
In addition, there should be no poisonous plants in the open-air room. Guinea pigs and rabbits rarely get to elevated places, but with some plants, a fallen leaf that has been secretly eaten can lead to poisoning. In addition, not all small animals move exclusively on the ground. Chinchillas and rats, for example, can climb and jump – so next to nothing is safe from them.
Do you like to leave your cigarettes on the living room table? During the free run, smoldering stems and tobacco belong in another room. Of course, this also applies to chemicals and cleaning agents. When your animals roam free, you must exercise the same caution as you would with a toddler.
Other sources of danger are, for example, hotplates, ovens, or washing machines. The animals can burn themselves or disappear into it unnoticed. In the kitchen, there is also food that the animals can eat and cannot tolerate. Freewheeling should therefore be avoided here. Many owners do this for reasons of hygiene and prefer other rooms.
The hallway or bathroom are often used. But here, too, caution is advised. Unfortunately, rats have already fallen into the toilet and drowned. The toilet lid stays closed when freewheeling. Please put away shampoo, shower gel, and other bathroom items!
If the free run takes place in the hallway, the other doors should not be opened during this time – this can be a real challenge in a large family. Depending on the type of animal, you have to provide a different amount of space, ideally consider this before purchasing.
Open windows are especially dangerous for climbing animals. In addition, when the windows are open there is the possibility that the animals sit in the draft and catch a cold. The windows should therefore be closed in cooler temperatures and on windy days. If you hold chinchillas, croissants, or other “climbing masters”, you can close the window every time you run free – better safe than sorry.
Newcomers Have to Get Used to Freewheeling
Caution: Animals that have just moved in should not be ambushed with a two-hour free run, but should be slowly accustomed to excursions into unknown terrain. If the animals are to be allowed to run free in the whole room in the future, you can first delimit a small area for them and slowly expand it. At the same time, the duration of the excursions can be increased. Sooner or later curiosity wins anyway and the animals explore their new realm on their own.