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What does NAC mean?

Published on April 4, 2024


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Alessia Bellintani – NAC Veterinarian

What does NAC mean?

This question opens the door to a fascinating and varied world of unconventional animals that, in recent years, have found their place in the homes and hearts of many. NAC it means New Pets (once called exotic animals), a term that groups together a multitude of species exotic and Not, from lively tropical birds to mysterious reptiles, passing through small mammals with surprising habits.

These alternative companions bring a touch of unexpected and beautiful wildlife into our lives, defying every traditional convention of what it means to have a pet. The decision to welcome a NAC into your home comes with specific responsibilities and unique challenges. They require special care, tailor-made habitats and a diet that reflects their needs, often very different from those of more common pets.

Having introduced the fascinating world of New Companion Animals (NAC), it is important to explore further some of the most common species that people choose to welcome into their homes. Each of them has unique and specific needs that must be met to ensure their well-being. Below, here is a list.  

Small mammals

Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)  

The rabbit is an excellent pet, intelligent and with a very sociable character, so much so that it loves coexistence with other similar animals and establishes excellent relationships with those who decide to take care of it.

There are several breeds that offer a wide variety of choices in size, ear shape, coat type, and color. On average, a well-groomed rabbit can enrich the life of those who decide to take care of it for 9-10 years, depending on the breed. Despite this, it is good to know that it is a very delicate and fragile animal: it does not like to be held in the arms and if dropped, it can suffer serious inconveniences, such as fractures to the limbs or teeth.

This little creature loves to be free at home or, even better, in an enclosure outside the house, where it can run and feed itself spontaneously with good fresh grass. Nutrition is crucial for his health: he needs a diet rich in fiber and low in carbohydrates and fats. An incorrect diet can lead to serious health problems, such as dental malocclusion or gastrointestinal system disorders.

This is why regular specialist veterinary visits are essential, to monitor the health of their ever-growing teeth (formed incisors and molars) and their general wellbeing. 

Guinea pig (Guinea pig porcellus)

Similar to the rabbits mentioned above, the guinea pig is also an extremely animal sociable, accustomed to living in small groups. For this reason, it is recommended practice to adopt at least one pair. If kept alone they can suffer from loneliness.

These lovely ones rodents they have an average lifespan of 5-8 years and yes distinguish for the variety of fur, which can be short or long, smooth or rough and for the diversity of colors.

Space is a fundamental element for them well being: they require a large area with enough space to move freely. Additionally, due to their shy and fearful nature, it is essential to provide them with gods hiding places where they can feel safe.

A crucial aspect of guinea pig health is their diet. They require high quality hay available without limitations and a generous amount of fresh vegetables full of vitamin C, a substance which, being unable to synthesize independently, if not supplied in the diet, can lead to serious problems. In more limited quantities it can be administered also fruit, which is also better, when possible, rich in vitamin C.  

Hamster (Hamster hamster)

Hamsters, small nocturnal rodents, have an average lifespan of 2-3 years and require a spacious cage for their well-being.

It is essential to provide them with plenty of substrate to burrow and hide, thus recreating their environment natural. It is very important to provide them with a wheel (of adequate size and with a solid floor) to ensure physical activity.

Furthermore, these little animals need of a small house to use as a shelter, where they will make a nest with kitchen or toilet paper left at their disposal to create a comfortable environment.

From a nutritional point of view, hamsters are omnivores. Their diet should include hamster-specific pellets, containing approximately 16-20% of proteins and 4-5% of fats, as well as fresh vegetables and a modest amount of fruit. It is also necessary to integrate them diet a small portion of protein animals, such as hard-boiled egg or meat thin cooked.

These animals are solitary creatures that, if forced to live with other hamsters, they can manifest aggression and discomfort, consequently, it is generally recommended to keep them individually.  

Chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera)

Chinchillas are rodents long-lived, in fact their average lifespan can reach 15 years.

Nocturnal by nature, require a vertical cage that offers plenty of room for jumping and climbing.

Their diet is based on a high fiber and low fat content, therefore it is recommended to feed them with high quality hay and specific pellets. They can be administered also fruit and vegetables, but in very limited quantities as this animal is predisposed to develop with ease digestive disorders.

Their fur, soft and delicate, requires regular sand baths to stay clean and healthy.  

Gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus)

Gerbils are lively, extremely curious and small rodents social. They love to live in groups and prefer environments enriched with abundant litter for digging and hide.

When cared for properly, they can reach 12 years of age. They are strict herbivores and as such their diet should consist of fresh grass or hay. Seasonal vegetables can also be added, while fruit should only be offered occasionally. 

Domestic Rats (Rattus norvegicus)

Domestic rats are considered excellent pets thanks to their remarkable intelligence and capacity to become deeply attached to their owners. 

With an average lifespan of approx Three years, these little ones mammals require, to satisfy their well-being, a spacious cage with several platforms, ladders, hiding places and objects for climbing and playing. 

The diet of domestic rats is varied, in line with theirs nature omnivorous. It is advisable to offer them specific pellets for rats, enriching their diet with fresh vegetables, fruit and a variety of animal proteins. This approach guarantees balanced nutrition and helps keep these small animals in excellent health.


Land turtles (Testudo hermanni)

Land turtles are certainly among the most common reptiles chosen as new pets. 

They require a well-kept environment suited to their needs, for this reason it is ideal to provide a large enclosure for theopen that offers both a sunny and a shady area so that they are allowed to thermoregulate. 

If it is not possible to keep them outside, but rather inside the house, it is necessary to offer a large terrarium equipped with UVB lamps necessary for the synthesis of vitamin D3 to prevent metabolic bone diseases. In addition to this, it must always be available in the terrarium plentiful substrate to allow them to dig as this is their specific behaviour. And then important that the habitat includes hiding places and non-plants toxic to simulate an environment that is as natural as possible. 

From a nutritional point of view, land turtles are mainly herbivorous. Their diet should comprehend a variety of herbs, flowers, leaves and vegetables, avoiding protein-rich foods and high-protein fruits sugars. Calcium supplements may be necessary to prevent shell and bone problems. 

Periodic veterinary checks are very important for to monitor their general health, with particular attention to weight, carapace and the presence of internal and external parasites. 

Pogona (Pogona vitticeps)

Another reptile commonly chosen as new animal from company is the pogona, also known as dragon bearded

These fascinating animals can live an average of 10 to 20 years and require a suitably large terrarium with careful control of temperature and humidity. L'environment it must be enriched with hiding places and structures to climb on. 

The pogone they are omnivorous: when young they feed mainly of insects, while as adults they supplement their diet with vegetables, a food they should learn to eat know since they were little. 


Geckos are small, nocturnal reptiles. In nature they are found in different environments, ranging from forests tropical to desert areas. For this reason, geckos from company they require a terrarium that mimics their natural habitat, with careful control of temperature and humidity. It is important to provide them with hiding places and structures to sit on to climb, along with an adequate heat source for the thermoregulation. 

The diet of geckos is mainly insectivorous, feeding on crickets, cockroaches, mealworms and other small invertebrates. It is vital to ensure the food is the right size, generally no larger than the distance between their eyes, to avoid problems during feeding. Additionally, some geckos may benefit from calcium and vitamin supplements maintain a balanced and healthy diet.  


Among the most popular domestic birds are canaries, diamond mandarins, lovebirds, i parakeets and the cockatiels

These birds, known for their lively song and colorful beauty, enrich our homes with theirs presence. For their well-being, it is essential that they are raised at least in pairs, as companionship is essential for their mental and physical health. 

Furthermore, they require large spaces in which to fly and explore, which is crucial for maintain their balance and agility. 

Their diet varies according to the species, but is generally based on a selection of quality seeds, preferably extruded to ensure a balanced nutritional intake. Adding fresh fruits and vegetables is important to provide necessary vitamins and minerals. Some species, such as lovebirds and cockatiels, are known for their ability to interact closely with their owners, developing a deep bond and loving

These birds are not only a treat for the eyes and ears, but also interactive companions who can create a unique bond with those who decide to take it treatment. 

Veterinary assistance for NACs

At the La Trinità veterinary hospital there is a department dedicated exclusively to new pets. 

Our team is able to manage basic medicine, specialist and urgently of all the unconventional species present in our homes. 

The structure owns equipment and spaces aimed exclusively at these animals. In fact, there is a dedicated clinic designed specifically for NACs where no annoying olfactory traces remain for our friends. 

In the same way, two exclusive hospitalization periods were studied, divided into prey and predators, so that the sick patient is not stressed, Like this to promote the speed and effectiveness of healing. 

All specialist services available at the hospital for dogs and cats are also available for NACs, from basic visits to surgeries to advanced diagnostics. Find out more about our veterinary care for new pets.

Find out more about our veterinary care for NACs.

For La Trinità

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