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What Does It Cost to Care for a Small Pet?

Last Updated: 30.03.20


The cost to care for a small pet depends on the critter you have in mind – hamsters can cost you around $15 each month, rats and gerbils around $10 to $20, while the monthly expense to care for a rabbit can go up to $100+. No matter which small pet you want to bring in your home, our recent article has the info you need.



To care for a hamster you will first need a cage which ends up costing anywhere between $10 to $40 depending on the type you want – bin, wired, aquarium – and on the size of the hamster. The quality of the cage itself can also influence the price since cages that use sturdier materials or that come with extra features will end up costing you more money.

Now that you have the cage, you will need bedding which has several purposes. It will line the floor, absorb unpleasant odor, and allow your hamster to play in it. Bedding is mandatory if you want to keep your cage clean and your hamster healthy. Depending on the type of bedding that you choose, alternatives are available starting from $2 all the way up to $10.

You can also use paper bedding if you want to cut the cost down considerably since hamsters love it just as much as the other types of bedding. One to three squares of toilet paper generally suffice, and the hamsters will use it as a blanket and will decorate their cage with it.

Before we move on to food, you will need to get a food dish to place it in, and this product ranges in price from $2 to $9. It is best to get a dish that is not made of plastic or wood since these critters will chew through them in no time. Ceramic or metal bowls are the best choices.

The hamster mix will set you back around $2.5-$5. Do make sure that you get a mix designed for hamsters and gerbils since a rabbit mix can contain ingredients that are toxic for your small pal. You can also give it snacks in the shape of fresh fruits and vegetables you may have stacked in the house or fridge.

While water will not cost you any additional money, since you can give your critter the same water you drink, you will need to purchase a water bottle which costs around $2-$5. A special water bottle designed for hamsters is a must since you don’t want your pet to spill the water and make a mess in its cage.

Toys are very important for hamsters, and a wheel to let them exercise is mandatory. This will cost you around $5, but depending on the design and its complexity, some models may end up costing you more. Tunnels, chew toys, and other accessories can be bought later on, but the total cost should not be higher than $30.  

While the initial costs can be a bit high, the monthly care cost is very manageable – a pack of bedding to last you a month usually costs $10 while food will cost you $5-$10. Thus, once you are past that big initial cost, hamsters are one of the cheapest small pets you can care for.




The cost for a rabbit’s cage depends on where you intend to keep the little fellow. If you plan to keep it outside, then you will need to purchase a rabbit hutch, but if you plan to keep it in the house you will need a nicely sized indoor cage.

Hutches usually cost more than indoor cages, but there is the option of making your own hutch if you are an experienced woodworker. If you can’t or don’t want to make your own, you can expect to spend around $150-$200 for a rabbit hutch. While indoor rabbit cages vary in design, their price usually ranges between $50-$100.

A rabbit eats around 1-2 cups of fresh vegetables every day, and that usually costs around $10 per week, and when fennel is out of season that cost may get as high as $15 per week. Rabbits also need hay, which is cheaper than fresh vegetables. One month’s supply of hay costs around $10.

You should also add around another $10 for healthy treats such as flower petals, dried food mixes, tree sticks, and more. Once all things are added up, the total cost of food for your rabbit should be around $60 per month, give or take a few dollars.

Rabbits also need bedding in their cage, and one package of rabbit bedding to last you for 4-6 weeks can cost you anywhere between $10 to $20 depending on the quality of it. Regular visits to the vet are just as important, and the cost of them depends on your city, but on average you’ll spend $160 for regular check-ups each year.

Your rabbit will also need toys to keep it entertained, and while some can be reused, it is important to keep it busy with new acquisitions so that it does not feel tempted to attack your furniture. Toys can cost you up to $15 per month. Once you add everything up, the average monthly expense to care for a rabbit is of $100+.



As with any pet, rats too need a home to call their own, and they do well in 20-gallon aquarium tanks or in wire cages that are similarly sized. At the minimum, you should expect to pay $30 for the cage, while some other models, depending on the type and size, can cost a lot more.

The bedding for the cage is very cheap and a $7 bag should last you an entire month. Food is just as inexpensive seeing as a $6 bag of rodent food mix can last up to two months. You’ll also need a foot container which comes at around $8 and a water bottle which will only set you back by $4 to $10.

Just as hamsters, rats love wheels, tubes, and balls. The price for these toys range from $2 to $10, and an average wheel costs around $8. Vet care is no more expensive than for any other type of pet and a standard visit will cost you about $40. All things considered, the monthly cost to care for a small rat is of $10 to $15.




Just as is the case for other rodents, the cage costs for a gerbil should not exceed more than $30, unless you want to get one that comes with additional features and accessories. Do make sure that you don’t get completely wired cages since gerbils have tiny feet and they tend to get stuck in them.

The cost of bedding and nesting materials for a month should not exceed $15 since that is the cost of a bedding bag that usually lasts for four to six weeks depending on the cage size and how often you clean it. Don’t use cedar or pine bedding since they can cause respiratory problems to the gerbil.

Apart from the cage, there are other initial costs you will need to account for prior to getting the pet such as a water bottle ($4 to $10), a food container ($8 to $15), and toys ($2 to $20). Cardboard, toilet paper rolls, and wood pieces can also be used as playthings. Visits to the vet cost around $40.

A 2-pound bag of food costs on average $7, and that will last you for two months since gerbils only eat between 5 and 8 grams of food each day. The combined monthly cost for food and bedding for a gerbil is of around $20.




Irina Ionescu

As a long-term learner and animal lover, Irina helps her readers find the best products and accessories for their pets, as well as the latest training techniques, tips & tricks on how to handle animals.

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