Hamsters, guinea pigs, and gerbils are among the easiest animals to keep as pets, but they do require comfortable and large-enough spaces, as well as entertainment, so finding the best gerbil cage is a good idea. Reptiles can also be an option, but setting up their space that needs to meet particular lighting and heating needs can be difficult.
Small pets, or “pocket pets”, as some people call them, are usually animals such as hamsters, gerbils, ferrets, guinea pigs, and rabbits. Many times families choose such a pet because they require a lot less maintenance compared to dogs and cats.
If you live in a smaller space and you simply cannot accommodate a large animal, or if you are gone most of the day and having an active pet is out of the question, then such a little guy is probably the answer you’ve been looking for.
Small pets can also include turtles and fish, but these have very different needs, so it’s best to do a bit of research beforehand and see what type of animal suits your needs for companionship. Moreover, even though pocket pets don’t require the same level of maintenance, they still enjoy getting attention so spending time with them is important.
Besides their psychological and emotional needs, small pets also require a proper space to live in and high-quality food. This means that you may have to invest in a tank, a terrarium, or a cage, and also purchase accessories that keep them from getting bored while you are not at home.
Since we’re talking about space, it’s good to point out that even though these are smaller animals, they often times do need plenty of room to run around, hide, or play, so setting everything up might prove to be quite costly in the long run.
Of course, dogs and cats have very different and oftentimes equally if not more expensive needs, so there’s no real difference from a financial perspective.
Some general information
Before going into details on the types of small pets that you should take into consideration based on the amount of care they need, let’s see some of the main rules you should bear in mind. Reptiles, for example, almost always need a climate-controlled environment, given that they are cold-blooded.
Rodents, on the other hand, need lots of toys, such as tube mazes and wheels, to play while you are not at home. Since most of the small animals fear of not becoming prey, they need objects around that they can use to hide when they feel threatened. This is especially important for rabbits.
If you think ferrets are the right choice for your home, then you should ferret-proof it since these are extremely curious and smart animals. As for chinchillas and rabbits, they usually need a companion in order to remain emotionally happy, especially since this can also improve their lifespan.
Depending on the type of pet you choose, you may need to ensure both indoor and outdoor space, the former being suitable for resting and eating, and the latter for playing and exploring. Birds can also be a part of this picture, but you should do a bit of research if you’ve set your eyes on a certain type.
Some parrots can live up to 80 years, which is a pretty big commitment and the same goes for turtles. Of course, this applies if they are properly taken care of and they don’t suffer any accidents in the process, as it can sometimes happen in homes with young children.
Hamsters are nocturnal pets, known for being extremely active and fun. Given the fact that most of their lives happens during the night, kids might be disappointed by the fact that they cannot play with them as much as they would like to. However, if you spend most of the day at work and are at home only during the night, then having a hamster might prove to be quite nice.
Luckily, hamsters don’t require too much particular maintenance and they can entertain themselves with toys and tubes, but they also love climbing onto things. This is one thing you need to be careful with since they can get hurt by falling off, although this rarely happens.
Guinea pigs & rabbits
Some might consider hamsters and guinea pigs similar animals, but the truth is that they are actually very different ones. Guinea pigs tend to express their personality a lot more, and they also need larger cages to run around. Loneliness might make them depressed sometimes, and their dietary requirements are also quite special, but they are the ideal pet for kids.
Rabbits, on the other hand, are usually temperamental and difficult to take care of. Many people think they are the ideal pet for children, but you should know that these are very complex creatures with specific needs in order to be happy. For example, rabbits should not be enclosed in a certain space without access to an outdoor area where they can play and run around.
They are also very afraid of any potential threat and predator, so they need lots of spaces that they can use to hide. Another aspect that you need to know is that rabbits need a companion, most of the times, in order to thrive both emotionally and physically.
Chinchillas & ferrets
Another very popular type of rodent pets, chinchillas are adorable creatures that kids simply adore. They are intelligent and with a happy disposition, and if you spend enough time together, they can learn simple tricks, using the right treats. Chinchillas tend to be active during the night as well, so if your kid goes to bed early, this might not be the best pet choice.
On the other hand, they do have a much longer lifespan than other rodents, the average being of 10 years. This means that if you are getting a pet for your child, you need to consider if he or she is going to properly take care of the little guys for a long time.
Chinchillas do need a rather large cage and they also need to take dust baths. You also need to be very careful when it comes to their diet since their stomachs have particular needs and digestive issues can easily appear. Other than need, you will need to constantly clean up dust, since this is one of the things they need in order to be healthy and comfortable.
Ferrets are completely different from the small pets we’ve discussed so far, but they resemble cats a lot. These are independent, mischievous, and curious animals that can be great pets. Given that they are highly intelligent and energetic, they can be trained and become loyal companions.
In terms of maintenance, they don’t require too much, so they can be an option for kids as well. Because they are so curious, you may want to ferret-proof your home before welcoming the little guy, and this is a matter of safety for him or her since items around the house could become rather dangerous.
When it comes to reptiles, these are relatively low maintenance pets, but setting up a proper environment for them can prove to be both difficult and expensive. Of course, if you are going to have turtles, then things might be easier, but if you are going for exotic alternatives, things get more complex.
However, once you cover their needs in terms of light, heat, and foliage, they are not that difficult to maintain. Depending on what type of reptiles you have in mind, you should do a bit of research and see if having prior experience with taking care of such a pet is mandatory or not. Iguanas, for example, are very high maintenance pets, but turtles are not.