I moved to Leeds about 3.5 weeks ago, and of course one of the important things to do is to scope out the local pet shops! There's one not too far a drive from where I am that claims to be the best pet shop in Leeds, so of course I had to take a look. Their website didn't fill me with confidence, to be honest -- their reptile and aquatics sections looked extensive but the rodent ones didn't -- but I know not everything shops sell will be on their website, so I thought a look wouldn't hurt.
Oh my. Pulling into the car park, I saw a row of rabbit hutches sitting outside the front. They were tiny, though, 3 or 4 feet long at the most, and certainly not suitable for a rabbit!
At first glance, inside seemed to be better. Closer inspection, however... Their toy selection was not as extensive as it looked, because they had so little that was actually suitable! They had those horrific metal barred wheels that can break a rodent leg, and the metal mesh ones that can trap toes. Most of the selection was tiny -- while they did have the 12" silent spinner and the largest size comfort wheel (I think it's 10"?), those were swamped by the piles of tiny wheels and the horrible mesh ones. What was worse was that the wire barred ones were the ones provided in the hamster and gerbil enclosures!
The actual animal enclosures were a mix of good and bad... but mostly bad. Their Syrians were separated, their dwarfs were in single sex groups with clearly labelled enclosures... But some of their rabbits and guinea pigs were also alone, their gerbils had a thin layer of wood based cat litter and nothing else for digging in, and none of the cages were properly secured off from the public. The Syrian pens were open to the roof and the rabbit/guinea pig/dwarf/gerbil pens all had the doors on the top half of the front of the cage open. I could have easily pocketed (literally!) any of the smaller rodents, there was no one even visibly watching the section. There was a sign saying do not touch the animals, but nothing to actually prevent it.
As well has the horrible mesh wheels, the enclosures were full of fluffy cotton wool bedding. Actually jammed full, in the case of the house in the female Robo cage. They had an extensive area of shelving dedicated to selling it, too. And the cages... the big green store has a better selection. Their guinea pig and rabbit cages were too small, and most of the hamster cages were tiny things like the Ferplast Laura, or habitrail or rotastak monstrosities. Their one redeeming cage was the duna multy, (and possibly the largest critter choice, but at £80+, would anyone buy it?), but nothing else met RSPCA guidelines, or could fit in an 8" or larger wheel. Even the big green store's horrible new range of pick and mix cages can fit an 8" wheel, and the big green store stock hamster suitable "rat" cages. These guys didn't even have anything "rat" sized -- okay, so I didn't see any rats in store, but they did have a selection of ratty books and a couple of degus, who also require far more space that any of the available cages.
It's weird. It's not like the shop was filthy, or the animals were obviously being neglected, but I still left the shop without buying anything and went to the big green store instead!