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Introducing new pets into a home can be an amazingly fun experience when it is done correctly. It’s exciting for both you and the new pet as you watch them explore and make themselves at home. But it’s not always as simple as just opening the door and letting them stroll in, your particular animal’s behavioural and territorial nature needs to be taken into account.
Thinking about space
This is the first thing you need to think about when you are bringing a new pet home. You need to ask yourself where they are going to eat, sleep and exercise. Many animals, even cute little rabbits, are often territorial which means they feel more comfortable in a space that is their own or can be shared with other similar creatures. Most will need a suitable place to exercise and a safe, cosy place to sleep. Research their needs before you acquire your new pet, and ensure that you have the budget and space to meet them in your home.
Prepare a suitable area of your home and remove any wires or other potential hazards that may create problems for your pet or cause damage to your home if disturbed.
Neutralise unfamiliar odours
Most pets have a heightened sense of smell in comparison to us humans. The slightest trace of another animal’s scent, especially those scents from potential competitor animals of the same species or even worse, potential predators will make your new pet far from comfortable.
Faced with this situation, depending on whether the particular pet is of a dominant or submissive nature, it may force them into hiding, or alternatively, they may begin to scent mark their new territory. This isn’t so bad in terms of pets like house rabbits who use scent from under their chin by rubbing it onto the surfaces, but male cats, for instance, may ‘spray’ – not pleasant.
It is best to neutralise as much animal scent as possible in the area to make your pet feel at home, and there are many disinfectants and odour neutralisers on the market that are both effective and pet-friendly. This lets your pet know that the place is their own.
While we have covered general introductions to the home, when it comes to introducing your animal to other pets in the home, things can get complicated.
Before you get your pet, you should already have researched its compatibility with the other pets in your home. While the old adage about animals “fighting like cats and dogs” isn’t always true (some cats and dogs live together quite happily, especially if introduced to each other as infants), it can be in a lot of cases. For instance, you wouldn’t want to house your new rabbit anywhere near a pet ferret – Ferrets have been bred to see rabbits as nothing other than food, and rabbits can smell their predatory musk from a distance, causing them so much stress it can create heart problems.
Some species can cohabitate, but research is crucial. Read up on how to introduce each type of animal to each other. Often it will be a case of allowing them to live in close proximity to each other for a few weeks without direct contact, followed by short, supervised introductions to each other in a neutral environment until the animals get used to each other, eventually leading to a successful cohabitation, but this varies from pet to pet.
A home full of pets can be a wonderful place to come home to, but it needs to be thought out – make sure you research the habitat, behaviour and compatibility of your new pet to ensure that your home is a happy one.