Is your family looking to add an adorable, cuddly, small animal to your family? Small mammals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, hamsters, gerbils, hedgehogs, and ferrets often make amazing family pets! Weighing the pros and cons of adopting one of these small creatures is an important first step. Here is a list to help you with your decision.
Pros of Small Pet Ownership
- Small pets are some of the easiest pets! As a general rule, small pets require minimal care. They require regular food and water, cage-cleaning, and interaction. Due to their low-maintenance demeanor, they often make good first pets for young children.
- These furry animals are adorable! Stop by any pet store and you are sure to see people gathered around the small-animal cages. Most humans, especially children, love small, fuzzy creatures.
- Small pets enjoy exercise and exploring! While these animals do enjoy their cages (which makes them a perfect pet for small spaces, such as apartments), they also enjoy time out and about. Allowing your small animal to move about in a safe, cleanable roaming area (such as a pen or another enclosed environment) leads to a happy pet and happy owners. Some larger animals (such as rabbits or ferrets) can even be put on a leash. By providing a secure area for your rodent to explore, you also provide for your family the opportunity to engage and interact with your pet.
Cons of Small Pet Ownership
- Small animals often have a shorter life span (2-5 years depending upon the species).
- Although rodents require less maintenance than many other pets, they still need your commitment of time and care. You should plan to spend time interacting with any pet every day to enrich their lives and monitor their health and well-being.
- Many animals in the rodent family are nocturnal. These pets are less apt to play and engage with humans during the daytime since they are naturally more active during the night. Their nighttime noise may also bother your sleepy family.
- Small animals can bite! While they are small and generally docile, some small animals will scratch or bite. Some small mammals, like gerbils, are less likely to bite and scratch humans, whereas other varieties, such as hamsters, are more apt to defend themselves in this manner.
- Some rodents, such as mice and ferrets, have an odor about them that can be off-putting to many people. All small animals will need absorbent bedding and frequent cage-cleanings to keep the cage smelling fresh and the pet feeling content.
Adding an pet, even a small one, to your family is a big decision! Before deciding to add a small pet to your family, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that you understand its housing, social and environmental needs, and any other factors that might be challenging for your household. Considering all of these factors is the best way to ensure that you find the right pet for your family.