Most people can relate to the idea that if you don’t protect your feet, but still have to move around, you could develop some pretty nasty, (not to mention uncomfortable,) problems pretty quick. Animals may be equipped with tougher layers more capable of dealing with those surfaces that would send most barefoot humans off howling, but that doesn’t mean they’re impervious to harm, especially when unnatural environments are introduced.
So let’s talk about the classic wire cage. They’re used for everything from bouncing bunnies to happy hens and for many reasons they usually serve their purpose just fine. Except where feet are concerned.
We discussed this problem with our resident small pet expert, also known as my amazing, critter loving sister, and found out that animals exposed to these poor conditions can wind up with a host of issues, none of which are any fun.
Bumblefoot is the name of a condition most often applied to the feathered crowd, though we’ve seen it used to describe what is essentially the same condition in rabbits and rodents. The term sore hocks may also be applied as it appears to relatively interchangeable. So what is bumblefoot exactly? A painful and dangerous condition that comes about from animals waddling, running, jumping, and hopping around over terrain that isn’t designed for them. Not only is it horribly uncomfortable and debilitating, it can also be life threatening if left untreated.
The good news is that not only can it be treated, there’s also a lot you can do to prevent this unwelcome guest from ever darkening your pet’s door!
We’ll start with one of the basics – No one wants to hang out in their own waste. That includes the twitchy whiskered and the clucking clans as well. Keeping cages clean helps keep your pet healthy for numerous reasons and may prevent the soggy bedding and sores combination that can create all sorts of trouble.
Next let’s look at surfaces. Rough cement, splintery wood, and bars that can, over time, dig into poor unsuspecting footsies. None of these are Mother Nature’s intended play pad, which is why they can lead to so many problems. By introducing layers of bedding, or padding, you can help put a barrier between potential harm and your beloved critter.
TIP: A cut up a puppy training mat can make excellent rodent cage liner. It helps draw moisture away, until it’s changed, and its spongy consistency prevents those tiny feet from digging into the hard metal which can cause so many issues.
TIP: Keep perches and levels not too far apart so that hopping and jumping pressure doesn’t have to make a painful impact.
Another thing to keep in mind is that not all cages are created equal and some manufacturers have already realized that our well loved housemates are in need of better designs. We’re always on the lookout for the latest and greatest in animals products and, as more information comes to light, we hope to see some big changes in classic habitat construction in the coming years. Until then be sure to keep an eye out for any signs of limping, or discomfort, which can be an indication that your pet isn’t too comfortable in their current home.
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