What sex is my pet?
The importance of knowing what gender your pet is
Knowing a petís gender is important when it comes to breeding because it can be dangerous for females to breed when they are too young or, for that matter, too old.
Also mothers are available for mating very quickly after theyíve given birth so males do need to be separated from them at an early stage.
It can be quite difficult to find out the sex of several types of pet, especially when they are tiny. For example rabbits, guinea pig, hamsters, gerbils and rats can be notoriously difficult to sex.
So if you are unsure, take them to your vet or to a reputable pet store and get them to take a look.
Once youíve established gender you can look at how you house your pets appropriately and whether or not neutering is the way forward for you. Most vets would recommend that you generally do not allow pets to breed.
Providing your pets with the appropriate home environment is important. For example, male rabbits, while often more friendly than females, are territorial. In establishing their territory, they can fight and inflict serious wounds on each other.
Itís very unusual for two buck rabbits to be happy to live in the same hutch. Neutering does dampen down this natural instinct. Once this had been done, rabbits of different sexes can be kept together in any combination.
Two bucks will usually tolerate each other, if you got them at the same time. However, itís not advisable to neuter one animal and not the other. With male guinea pigs neutering is rarely carried out. Provided the males are kept together from an early age without any females, they should get along. But itís not best practice to keep adult rabbits and guinea pigs in a hutch together.
Neutering is not an option for hamsters so, depending on which type of hamster youíve got, you need to find out what combination of genders will suit their temperament.
When you buy such a pet, itís wise to ask questions about their social habits. Some hamsters are very friendly but itís best to keep pairs or groups together from a very young age.
Itís unlikely that new hamsters will be accepted into a group thatís already established. Provide lots of nooks and crannies in their cages so that they can get away from each other from time to time. Even animals need their own space!
Also if pets appear to be squabbling frequently it may be necessary to separate them permanently before serious injury occurs.