Adopting a new pet comes with great responsibilities, no matter its size. However, rodents seem more suitable pets for those with busy lifestyles and can be handled easier provided you offer them a stable environment to live in, just like our recent article suggests.
Whether we’re talking about mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters, Guinea pigs or chinchillas, rodents are usually referred to as “pocket pets” due to their small size and they are less demanding. They don’t require to be taken out for a walk and they are less prone to diseases and parasites since they mainly live indoors, inside their cages.
Rodents are also more affordable to look after in the long run because they require less grooming products and visits to the vet. They don’t eat too much food either and, most importantly, won’t mind spending at least a few hours of the day on their own, without your strict supervision.
So, if you decided to expand your family by welcoming a rodent, you’ll most likely consider several options. The most common rodents that are kept as pets nowadays include Guinea pigs, hamsters, and gerbils. Each of them has its unique set of characteristics so make sure to carefully read about them before deciding on one animal.
Guinea pigs originate from South America and have been domesticated for over 10,000 years. Modern Western societies mainly used Guinea pigs as lab animals because of their similarities to the human body.
Nevertheless, their kind and affectionate personalities transformed them into great companions for people of all ages, and this is reflected in the big number of individuals living in the United States alongside their human owners.
Guinea pigs are medium-sized mammals part of the rodent family and, as such, display certain similarities to other rodents like hamsters, chinchillas or gerbils.
These furry animals are mainly nocturnal so don’t expect to interact with them too much during the day. They also feature large cheek pouches where they can store food, so overfeeding them can easily lead to digestive problems and obesity.
In terms of personality, Guinea pigs are not only adorable to watch but also extremely friendly and easy to tame. They are creatures of habit and enjoy a good routine in every aspect of their lives, including feeding, sleeping, exercising, and petting.
The easiest way to bond with your piggy is to establish a strict routine, especially when it comes to its feeding and grooming hours. It’s best to talk to your vet about the right amount of food to feed your pet daily to avoid any eating disorders or harmful habits.
Another thing to consider is that Guinea pigs are social creatures, meaning they will need a partner in crime to feel complete. The amount of love and care you give to your pet won’t suffice to make them truly happy, so consider adopting a pair or two same-sex individuals.
Out of all rodents and small animals, these make perfect pets for children and people with busy lifestyles. They are affectionate and easy to tame but also independent enough to not require your attention 24/7. We suggest adopting a Guinea pig if you want a warm soul by your side but don’t want to commit to taking it out for a walk every single morning.
One of the smallest rodents in the world, gerbils have increased in popularity in the past decades, becoming great companions for people of all ages and financial possibilities. Strong and resilient, they live a relatively long life for such small animals.
Similar to other breeds in their family, gerbils are mainly nocturnal so they become more active when the sun sets. However, this depends on your pet’s personality as well, meaning it can easily sync with your schedule and adjust its sleeping hours to yours.
An average adult gerbil measures about 6 inches in length, apart from its 3-to-4-inch long tail and doesn’t weigh more than four ounces. They are extremely curious creatures, so you’ll need to satisfy their curiosity and stimulate their minds as much as you can.
Most gerbil owners mention they are intelligent, active, and highly inquisitive. They show a great interest in people and everything surrounding them, meaning they can develop a close relationship with their human owners.
Because they are so small, they need to be kept in special plastic cages or glass terrariums. Wired cages may seem a good option for most rodents, but these ones will easily find a way out and escape through the grates when you’re not paying attention.
Nevertheless, the cage that you pick for your gerbil should be filled with as many toys and accessories as possible to keep its mind busy whenever you’re not around. Think about tubes, chewing toys, huts, and exercise wheels to keep them in shape and active. Since they have so much energy, they need to find new ways to control it.
When it comes to their interaction with humans, gerbils enjoy being held and pet. Once trust is established, they develop a unique bond with their owners and will react to their behavior. They hardly nip too.
Despite their curious attraction to humans, gerbils don’t represent good pets for children. They are small and fast, with unpredictable reactions, so they can easily slip through your hands or escape from their cages.
They like action so they will be extremely interested in everything going on in the house, so you should probably place their cage in the living room or in your bedroom. They need a full house to feel like they are part of whatever is going on.
There are several hamster species but the most common ones are the dwarf ones. A Syrian hamster, which is also the most popular species kept as a pet can weigh around 4.5 ounces at maturity, while the Roborovski dwarf hamster, the smallest one known so far, will weigh less than one ounce.
In captivity, hamsters can live up to four years, depending on each individual, its health, and the environment you create for it.
These small and furry creatures have distinctive cheek pouches where they store food, so you need to pay attention to exactly how much you are feeding them daily. Similar to other rodents, hamsters are also prone to overweight problems and obesity, so they need a large cage with lots of room to stretch their paws, and at least one exercise wheel.
As opposed to other rodent species, Syrian hamsters are territorial creatures so they should be kept alone. They are known to get into fights with other individuals when they are housed together, meaning that the best way to avoid conflicts is to adopt only one hamster.
On the other hand, dwarf hamsters enjoy the company and can be kept in pairs or even in small groups, as long as they are used to living together from an early age. As for their interaction with humans, most hamsters are docile and very friendly. They like to be held and pet and rarely nip or bite if they are handled properly.
Keep in mind that, similar to almost all other rodents, hamsters are also nocturnal, so you shouldn’t keep their cage in the same room where you sleep if you don’t want to be interrupted.
To sum up, each of these rodents comes with an individual personality so it’s hard to anticipate how well it will fit into its new home. The key is to be gentle, patient, and provide your pet with everything it needs to live a long, happy, and healthy life.