Small Animals Make Great Pets

Posted: 10/7/2012

The number of Americans owning small animals continues to grow every year, and rabbits continue to be the most popular small animal pet. Small animals make great pets, but they should not be considered a "pocket" pet. Our rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, gerbils and hamsters require attention and care and they are completely dependent on their owners for food, shelter and security. Just as the decision to adopt any pet, it is important to make sure you are able to care for a small animal before taking one home.

Here are some characteristics of our small animals. Consider these characteristics before adopting a small animal to make sure that you will find a good fit for your family pet.

Rabbits:

  • The average lifespan of a well-cared-for indoor rabbit ranges from 7 - 10 years.
  • Rabbits "freeze" when they are scared. This can be confused as contentment when they are being carried.
  • Rabbits should be kept indoors as they can become very agitated when they encounter an unknown creature.
  • Need a solid flooring in their cage.

Rats:

  • Not dirty; constantly grooming.
  • Rats are one of the most intelligent rodents. They can be trained to answer to their name.
  • Rats are very social and are happier and easier to train when they are paired wiht another rat. But make sure they are the same sex, unless you want to raise them.
  • Rats are typically nocturnal, but they can alter their schedule for human attention.

Hamsters:

  • Hamsters are nocturnal and can get very upset when their sleep pattern is distrubed.
  • Hamsters need something in their cages, such as a wheel, for exercise.
  • Hamsters store food in their cheek pouches.

Gerbils:

  • Gerbils like to burrow for shelter so they need enough litter to dig through.
  • Gerbils need something in their cages, such as a wheel, for exercise.
  • Gerbils are happiest when paired with another gerbil.

Guinea Pigs:

  • Guinea pigs are very social and need a lot of attention.
  • Guinea pigs can be very loud at times, making squealing and squeaking sounds.
  • Guinea pigs can be caged with other guinea pigs for socialization.
  • Guinea pigs can feel insecure when held or carried.