Best Rodent Pets

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Intro

Guinea Pigs Pixabay image

We have started a new series on pets that people own that are not dogs and cats. This is the third in the series, and it appears that we are progressing from large to extra small.

Our first in the series was on Potbellied pigs, and while they are not as large as their cousins raised for all that bacon, they are still good sized.

Last week we took a look at miniature horses, donkeys and ordinary sized burros. While small, they still need outdoor housing.

This week, we are down to pets that weigh in at ounces and measure in inches.

These include all the rodent species, and once you get past the house mouse and the sewer rat, they are all pretty cute and furry.

We are not going to cover all the rodent species. There are just too many to cover. Instead, we are going to tell you about ten best rodent pets.

Background

When I was in school, almost every classroom had a few biological plant and animals sitting around. I went to school in Florida and mostly the State had a 6-3-3-system. Grammar School was grades 1 through 6; Junior High School was grades 7 through 9; and Senior high school was 10 through 12.

In the lower grades, a number of the classes had a hamster or two in cages for us to watch. Some classrooms had a few fish in a small

Hamster Pixabay image

aquarium, and some plants sitting around. Some of us who the teacher deemed responsible, could volunteer to take some care of these plants and animals, under supervision of course.

At the end of the school year, a student could take an animal home to keep if the parent agreed. Most all the furry rodent species were hamsters and they are still the most popular tiny pet for kids.

Many years later, when my son was about 15, he came home with a little white mouse and a cage with runs. He didn’t ask first, because he knew the answer.

Well, the little white mouse came to live with us for 3 years, and I even got to the point of holding her and playing with her.

My son knew my bark was just that. I would never hurt an animal, even a mouse. When she died we buried her in the flower bed, right out the front door step.

Housing

All kinds of cages and tubes, plastic and glass housing are available for your pet. Always keep in mind that these little pets are tiny. Look for cages and housing that are escape proof.

Pet Companies have these little animals for sale and they also have all kinds of housing and bedding and food. An experienced sales person can set you up from start to finish. Also, look for reputable pet stores that do nothing but sell pets and supplies.

Rat in a cage Pixabay Hutzpan

Cages are wire and plastic and glass with tubes that you can hook together for exercise runs. Check that these things are chew proof. Housing comes in all different shapes and sizes. Towers, carryalls, several level town houses, any design you have space for.

Housing comes in all price levels–from 500 to 40 dollars. You will also need hay for some rodents and straw for bedding. Most rodents have a smell, because they don’t have separate bathrooms, they simply “go” in their bedding. Be prepared to clean cages several times a week.

Traits

Most rodents tame easily, provided they are treated with care. They must trust you not to hurt them. Hold them securely, but gently. Take time to train them to do things. Don’t be impatient.

Most rodent pets do better in same sex(female) pairs or small groups. Males do not do well in pairs or groups. They have a tendency to fight.

If you want just one, get the male species. However, they will need a lot of attention, being alone.

Some rodents are nocturnal. Unless you are up all night and sleep all day, you will want to be sure you have a pet who isn’t awake all night.

These little guys are, for the most part, low maintenance. Once you have good housing for them -room to play and move around -and the right kind of food, they will afford much pleasure with little care.

Pet Species-size and life expectancy

1.Syrian Hamster-Often referred to as golden or teddy bear hamsters. Their life span is two to three years. An adult is 5 to 7 inches long and will weigh about 5 ounces. These little guys are solitary animals. Do best with their own solitary housing. They are nocturnal.

                             Hamsters Pixbay

2.Dwarf Hamster– Can be social with other Hamsters, and can be housed in same sex pairs or small groups. Their life span is three years. They tend to be a little nippy but easy to hold with a gentle touch. Will be about two inches long and weigh one ounce. They have gray-brown fur with a dark stripe down the back.

3. Chinese HamsterIs about as small as the Dwarf. The Chinese Hamster is not as common as other varieties. Three to four inches long and weigh about one ounce. Not only are they small but they are quick. They are dark brown with a black stripe down the back.

 

Gerbil Pixabay image

4.Gerbils are are quick and skittish but can become quite tame if handled regularly. They may even learn to take food from your hand. Life span is 1 to 3 years. Females do well in pairs or small groups. Including the tail, adults are 5 to 7 inches long and weigh 1 to 2 ounces. They come in all colors.

5. Fancy Mouse– are quick and skittish, but can become quite tame if handled regularly. May learn to take food from your hand. Life span is 3 years. Females do well in same sex pairs or small groups. Males tend to fight . Adults are 5 -7″ long and weigh 1 -2 ounces. All colors.

mouse Pixabay image

6. Common Rat with regular handling they become quite tame and enjoy human companionship. Life span is 2 to 4 years. They need out of cage time for social interaction and exercise. Rats will even learn simple tricks. Adults are 9 to 11 inches long-tail included and weigh between 12 and 23 ounces. They come in all colors and have whiskers and hairless tails.

7. Guinea Pigs Are easy to handle and seldom ever bite. They live from 5 to 7 years.

Guinea pig Pixabay image

Socially they do well in same sex (female) pairs. They require fresh hay and veggies every day and adequate amounts of vitamin C. Adults are 8 to 10 inches long, weigh 25 to 42 ounces. They have stout bodies, no tail and large heads. Come in white, cream, tan, black.

8. Chinchillas are Active and playful but mostly nocturnal and like a quiet place during the day. They do not like to be held much but prefer to be on the move and explore. Adults grow to 10 to 14 inches and weigh 15 to 25 ounces. They have short limbs and thick, bushy tails. Their fur is so dense that they need a dust bath every week.

Chinchilla Pixabay Tahunadkaila

Colors are black, gray, beige and white. Chinchillas can actually live up to 20 years. They demand a lot of attention. Do well in same sex pairs. Not recommended for children.

9. African Dormouse are tiny squirrel like rodents. They are quick and agile. They need a very secure home because they are good escape artists. They do like to climb. They are only 3 to 4 inches in size and weigh 1 to 2 ounces. They have bushy tails as long as their bodies.

10. Common Degu From Chile– These rodents are quite social. Do well housed with same sex pairs or small groups. They are easily tamed. They grow to 9 to 12 inches and weigh 6 to 11 ounces. They have a round, squat body with a long thin tail. Degus are active during the day .

If you want a pet that must be confined in a cage or special house, because of their diminutive size, you might want to consider a pet rodent. Why, one can even fit in a shirt pocket. All of these rodents are fairly easy to care for and most are easily tamed.

gerbil

Do give them at least one companion for company. Get one, or two that have the same day/ night pattern as you do. It stands to reason that if everybody is awake or everybody is asleep, the household will be much happier.

Always buy from a reputable, dealer. One who can answer all your questions about care, food, health. Find out if there are any restrictions or laws against owning a pet rodent in your municipality.

I had to increase my knowledge on these little guys. Doing some research made me  understand these smallest of our pets. My thanks to the Spruce Pets–Llanne McLeod, DVM,  and Wikipedia.     I’m Barbara Nelson and I hope you enjoyed this article on tiny pets.  Let me know what you think.

6 thoughts on “Best Rodent Pets”

  1. Hi there,

    Many thanks for sharing. I have a Rabbit for a pet. Not sure if it falls in this category

    Guinea pigs however are awesome, especially for kids. Thank you bring out the beautiful sides of these animals. 

    Many people always overlook these beautiful animals. I remember back in school, guinea pigs were used for science practicals in the school lab. This little beautiful creature is full of value to kids. Thanks again for sharing. My daughter must read this article. 

    1. Thank you for reading my post on Rodents. My dad had a few rabbits when I was a child. I loved to pet them. They are not of the same family as Rodents. In my next post I’ll be writing about Rabbits.

  2. Hi Barbara!

      I thoroughly enjoyed your article on the best rodent pets!  This article was extremely thorough and informative.

      When I worked in an office within a warehouse on the night shift, I had a pet mouse that would visit me, come up on my desk, and I would feed it every day – I became very fond of my little mouse!  One day when I came to work, a co-worker informed me that another co-worker had gotten a broom and killed my little mouse – it broke my heart . . .  

      Reading your article has brought back those fond memories of my sweet little mouse, and now I am thinking about getting one where it will be safe at home now that I am retired.  It does seem that most of these pets are nocturnal, so in order to keep from bothering my husband, I think I would go with the cute little common degu, which are active during the day.  Do you have any idea how much a degu would cost?  

    Thank you for this awesome, informative article on these cute, sweet little rodent pets!!

    Nettie

    1. Thank you for your reply to my post on rodents. Unfortunately, rodents are at the bottom of the food chain. They are prey for everyone looking for a meal, except humans.  That’s why many of them are nocturnal. I don’t now about prices or availability, You would have to consult someone in your area. Major pet stores carry small animals and supplies for them–Petco, Pet Smart, are two major chains. Check out pet stores in your area. Search on the Internet, as well.

  3. This was a great read for me. Its funny because over the time of the worst of the Pandemic when my daughter was home from school, she begged me for a dog. At the time that was impossible for it to happen so I told her she could get a “rodent” long story short we ended up with a Rabbit as I remembered my friend Guinea Pigs growing up here SUPER noisy!!

    1. Thank you for commenting on my post on Rodents. I think we sometimes forget about the wide range of animals that share this planet with us, and that many of them have the ability to become compatible with us and our living arrangements. A rabbit was a good choice for your daughter. I’ll be writing about Rabbits in my next post.

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