Pint-Sized Pets: Which Pocket Pet Is Right For You?
The world of pet ownership has evolved dramatically over the past several decades and now commonly includes a range of fascinating creatures known endearingly as pocket pets. Similar to other pets with individual needs and health requirements, pocket pets are not only welcome in our clinic, they are truly enjoyed by all our staff.
If you’ve been wondering if a pocket pet might make a great pet for you and your family, we offer the following guide to help answer some of your questions.
The Perfect Match
Pockets pets have found a place in the hearts of pet owners worldwide – and not just because of the cute factor (which can be off the charts!). Seen as a great alternative to owning a cat or dog, pocket pet ownership provides a wonderful solution to limited space, allergies, cost, or a living situation that excludes larger furry friends.
Like all pets, some pocket pets are easier to care for or more tolerant of children; but without thorough research before adoption, many end up homeless as a result of unrealistic expectations.
When choosing which pocket pet to add to your home, consider housing, nutrition, grooming, and exercise. Below are some of the most popular pocket pets and some specific needs:
- Rabbits – Depending on breed and overall health, a rabbit can live 10+ years, making him or her a significant addition to family with growing children. Many rabbits don’t like to be held or handled, and have the ability to bite or scratch. While rabbits are social animals and do thrive around other rabbits, they must be spayed or neutered to minimize a bunny takeover (you know the saying…). Rabbits eat lots of hay, require proper housing, nail (and possibly tooth) trims, things to chew on to mitigate overgrown teeth, and possible daily brushing.
- Hamsters – So fun to watch, the actions of a busy hamster are simply mesmerizing. Housing and co-existing with other hamsters largely depends on the breed and gender you choose. Hamsters live about 1-3 years, are active at night, and require little from an owner except the appropriate housing, food, and toys.
- Guinea pigs – Possibly the most enduring pocket pet for children is the adorable guinea pig. Easy to care for, especially if you have more than one, as guinea pigs are herd animals. Grooming needs vary based on hair length, and proper food and toys can reduce the growth of long teeth. Like rabbits, guinea pigs eat hay, among many other healthy foods.
- Mice or rats – A lifelong commitment to a mouse or rat is fairly low, about 1-3 years. Both rodents are social and fun to watch, although rats take the cake regarding human interaction. The right stimulation, food, habitat, and items to chew on comprise the list of must-haves, making either of these furry handfuls a terrific option for kids.
- Gerbils – Similar to hamsters, gerbils are social and acrobatic, can learn to trust and engage with an owner, and may enjoy being held. Typically, gerbils live 1-3 years and must have chew items to reduce excessively long teeth.
- Chinchillas – Soft, but not necessarily cuddly, chinchillas can live up to 10 years, and require larger housing than the above critters. Dust baths, chew items, and hay round out the basic requirements for this cute pocket pet.
- Ferrets – These extremely social and intelligent pocket pets require lots of attention, careful feeding, and stimulation for optimal health. Ferrets can be litter-trained (making explorations around the house less stressful for you), and their playful, curious natures inspire a lasting relationship within a family. A musky scent necessitates weekly laundering of bedding and habitat cleaning.
Caring For A Pocket Pet
Please call us if you have any questions regarding pocket pet care, and welcome to the wonderful world of owning a pint-sized pet!