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I should be getting a pair of 11 month old RGS next week or at some point in the near future, and though I've scoured as many websites and threads as I can in the past, there are a few things I still can't find definite answers on.

For one, hibernation. I seem to be finding an equal amount of people saying that you should/shouldn't hibernate your Richardson's. Now I know that they natural hibernate in the wild, for most of the year as I understand it. However, I don't know if it's really a good idea with captive RGS and I'm not seeing anything conclusive. I plan to have mine living indoors, and I'm not sure if a suitable outdoor enclosure would even be possible. I can't see it working out indoors, not sure how I would make one part of the house cold enough. And if so, considering that they're not living like wild animals (in terms of behaviour and diet), would they be able to cope with hibernation? Is it necessary to prolong life, as some have claimed? And finally, if they really should be hibernated, is it too late in the year to do this now?

Also, breeding. The pair are a male and female. I know they generally reach maturity at the age they're at now, but I hear this is usually after their first hibernation. Given that they haven't been hibernated, should I expect them to breed this Spring? Most places have saying they must hibernate to breed, but then I saw one account that said theirs bred even though they'd never been hibernated.

Given that this pair is around 11 months old, they surely must have been conceived sometime in January last year. Surely this would imply that they don't always follow the natural cycle in captivity, as wild RGS usually mate during spring.

Thirdly, cage dimensions - is height important? They'll be in a cage that's roughly 8 sq feet all on 1 level, but I hope to upgrade them when I've moved house. Should I be looking to expand upwards or outwards, which is more beneficial to their enrichment?

And finally, sunflower seeds. Right now they're being fed on a high sunflower seed mix as the base of diet. I've seen that recommended by others, but then a lot of sources are also saying to avoid (among other nuts and seeds) sunflower seeds due to them being high in something I can't recall right now, perhaps phosphorus? Anyone got any ideas on whether I should try to wean them off this?


Thanks in advance
 

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I can't confidently comment on everything else. But for caging, in the shop I use to work at we kept Prarie dogs and RGS in mesh cages with different levels; to basically increase floor space without losing shop floor space. They coped very well with it and seemed to enjoy running up and down the ramps, making several funny vocalizations.
 

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Another thought on caging - I can't recall where, but I've seen an arboreal viv (AX48 I expect) that was shelved right across to split it into different floors with holes and ramps between each storey.

The idea was to recreate a burrow that happened to be above ground!
 
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