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New Pet Owner Questions

Marc Morrone gives advice to ferret, guinea pig, hamster, and snake owners.
Martha Stewart Living Television

My ferret is only 6 weeks old. She is very playful and likes to grab and chew on everything, including my fingers. How do I break her of this habit?
When baby ferrets teethe, their impulse is to chew on anything they can -- fingers included. Unfortunately, they don't hear very well, and it's hard to get them to respond to verbal commands. The best solution is to use some bitter apple spray on your fingers; ferrets find the taste unpleasant and will avoid nibbling while you're wearing it.

I noticed that my son's guinea pig has four nails on its front foot and only three on the back. Is this normal?
The guinea pig is fine; dogs, cats, and ferrets have five toes in front and four in back, while guinea pigs have four and three.

I just got my son a hamster, but he is afraid to pick him up. How can we pick up the hamster without being bitten?
The best way to help your hamster adjust to your presence is to use a coffee cup to scoop him up. Once you've accomplished this, you can gently pour the hamster into your hand. This allows the two of you to get to know each other without any confrontation, and soon you won't need to use the cup.

My son has been asking me for a pet snake and wants a baby Burmese python. Is this a good snake to have as a pet?
There are some snakes that make perfectly good, interactive pets, but a python isn't one of them. What many people don't realize is that the small snake you purchase in a pet store will grow into a 15-foot adult. A better choice might be a corn snake or king snake. They are gentle, easy to care for, and reach a length of about 4 feet.

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Comments (2)

  • GuineaTiel 5 Aug, 2011

    Hi Marc. I have 2 male cockatiels and 2 male guinea pigs and I would love to let them hang out together more often but when the birds and guinea pigs are together they cause all kinds of trouble. My guinea pigs try to eat my cockatiels' tails and one of my birds tries to eat my albino guinea pig's eyes and ears! How do I break them of these habits and why do they do that? Thanks
    Autum

  • DurDur 26 Jul, 2011

    Hi Marc How do I get my year old male cockatiel to stop ripping the feathers off his yr old sisters back of neck - I have 2 other males who do NOT do this - I tried separation from each other and they cry until I put them back together - I try yelling and a little tap on his beak when he does it and now he does it more for attention - my poor little yr old female has a bare rear neck but she still adores him!? Help!
    to durenehart@aol.com please! Anyone!