Incompatible Pets

I love my many pets, and they all get along fairly well, even the cat and rats. Interactions between pets of different species can be fascinating and humorous. However, there are certain common pets that simply don’t play well with others. Here are a few combinations that shouldn’t be permitted to interact, even with supervision.

Ferrets and Rodents

Ferrets are such comical and friendly creatures that it’s easy to forget they’re also obligate carnivores who display hunting behaviors even in captivity. I have heard on occasion of ferret owners who also had rats and thought that the two pets would enjoy playing together, because their personalities are similar. This always ends badly. Ferrets not acclimated to a raw diet are unlikely to actually eat small rodents, but when instincts kick in, they will gladly kill small, furry creatures. There’s a reason ferrets entertain their pet parents for hours on end by attacking toys: They’re among the most determined hunters in the animal kingdom. Never allow ferrets to interact with small rodents.

Rats and Mice

Rats and mice are similar in many ways, but that doesn’t mean they can share a home or play nicely together. A nursing rat will adopt mouse pups and suckle them along with her own young, but adult mice aren’t shown the same hospitality. Rats are opportunistic predators and, if presented with easy prey like a domestic mouse, will kill and eat it. Rats should be kept only with other rats. I have heard of rats occasionally bonding with gerbils or guinea pigs, but they’re just as likely to see another small rodents as prey. Don’t risk it.

Snakes and Lizards

The idea of a huge terrarium with multiple types of reptiles appeals to many new herp owners. When I worked at a retail pet supply store, I had to talk several purchasers out of housing incompatible reptiles together. Snakes are generally solitary creatures, but can sometimes coexist with other snakes. Lizards, frogs, turtles, or pretty much anything else are generally¬†out of the question. Many snakes will snack on frogs or lizards given the opportunity. Turtles, on the other hand, aren’t in any danger from most snakes due to their size and shell, but the turtle might injure or kill the snake by biting it.

Hedgehogs and Snakes

I can’t imagine what would possess an otherwise rational person to attempt to convince a hedgehog and a snake to make friends, but in case it needs to be said: Never allow hedgehogs and snakes to interact. African Pygmy Hedgehogs are known in countries to which they are native for killing even very poisonous snakes. They are immune to most snake venom, including that of the asp (the snake which killed Cleopatra). Hedgehogs and snakes are natural enemies and probably should not be kept in the same home, much less in closer proximity than that.

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  1. dskey
    | Reply

    anyone know anything about african snails ?

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