Owning a small pet can be a truly rewarding experience and there are a whole host of different pets to choose from. Each type of small pet has their own different traits and natural behaviours.
It’s important to do your research first to make sure your new pet will suit your lifestyle and give you what you want from pet ownership.
Remember – when you become a pet owner, you’re legally responsible for their health and happiness. Do plenty of research about your pet’s needs before you give them a home.
What do you want from a small pet?
Some small pets love being picked up and cuddled, others prefer to be petted in their cage, and some would be happiest if you just sit back and watch their natural behaviours.
It can be really disappointing if you’re looking forward to cuddling your new pet but find they don’t enjoy your attention and would much rather be left alone. Doing lots of research beforehand can help you can avoid feeling rejected by your new pet. That way you’ll find a small pet to suit you and your family.
Apart from ferrets and rats, who love lots of attention from their owners, most small pets won’t play games with you like a cat or a dog. This doesn’t mean they don’t make good pets – they can be fascinating to watch as they climb, dig, or build comfy nests in their cage.
Small pet, big commitment
Just because they’re smaller, it doesn’t mean these pets need less care. There still a big commitment and there are some important things to consider before you welcome a new pet into your home.
At PDSA, we don’t recommend buying small pets as a lesson in responsibility for young children. These animals need a lot of careful looking after, which children might not be fully able to provide.
They might be cheaper that dogs and cats but small pets can still cost a lot of money over their whole lifetime. They’ll need:
- Specialist food that’s made for your species of small pet.
- High-quality hay.
- A suitable enclosure or cage.
- Toys to stop your pet getting bored.
- Pet-safe cleaning supplies.
- Dust baths.
- Nest boxes.
- Vet fees.
- Vaccinations (for rabbits and ferrets).
Most small pets get very lonely and stressed if they live alone. They need companionship for a pet just like them, so all of these costs will need to be doubled.
They’ll also need you to spend time on them – from daily, weekly and monthly cleaning of their cage to putting time aside each day to spend interacting with them.
So, which small pet is right for you?
Ask yourself and your family what you want from a pet:
A pet who enjoys cuddles, playing and spending time with people
A pet who’s happy to be petted and stroked
Think about getting guinea pigs. They are amusing and entertaining to watch, showing you how excited and happy they are with squeaks and squeals. They don’t usually enjoy being picked up but are happy to be stroked and fed treats.
A pet who’s interesting to watch when they’re behaving naturally
Think about getting gerbils, chinchillas, mice or hamsters. They generally don’t enjoy being picked up and handled but all of these pets enjoy to explore their enclosures and make use of any toys or objects you give them. You can have hours of fun building them interesting new set-ups to explore.