Your children have been asking you for a small and furry pet for quite some time now. You feel a dog or cat are not the perfect fit for your home and agree to investigate the other possibilities. You know that one of your girls has a guinea pig in her classroom which she adores and your other child a hamster. So, how do you decide?
Here are some points that we hope might help.
First and foremost, ask yourself if your family is ready for a pet. Make sure there will be a responsible party for your new pet’s care. Remember even though your new pet may not require frequent walks outside; there are still many things to consider.
Your new furry pet will need:
Interaction and socialization
Food and Water (“fresh and wholesome foods in addition to their pellets”)
Cage Care and Cleaning
A guinea pig is usually the perfect first small pet for children. It seems to be the proper size for smaller hands and are not as jumpy as many other small critters. The personality of a guinea pig is normally peaceful and they love to be held and cuddled. They will even make little noises to let you know they are around but will not keep you up at night. They cherish exercise and small playpens work out well.
Rabbits generally make nice pets, but normally don’t like to be held and cuddled (though there are exceptions). They do squirm more than guinea pigs and like to run and jump. Many rabbits can be litter-box trained to help make clean up easier; but this does require time and patience. Rabbits need to exercise regularly outside of their cage and also require a roomy environment.
Hamsters can be kept in a roomy cage with an exercise wheel. They can be very entertaining to watch. Unfortunately, they are nocturnal so having them in your child’s bedroom might not be advantageous! They can become tame with some training but can also nip when startled. They are small in size so might not be ideal for younger children with tiny hands. Older children seem to do best with hamsters.
Gerbils are great entertainment. They are quite happy in a roomy cage with lots of bedding or soil to tunnel through. Gerbils are usually not a great hand-held pet; but so much fun to watch and take care of.
Ferrets are fascinating and fun. Bundles of energy when they are awake! They sleep for many hours but when awake they need to run, jump and play. Out-of-cage time is a necessity not an option with ferrets! Tons of toys for swatting and pouncing will keep your ferrets amused. Because of the squirminess, ferrets can be a challenge to hold onto. But, they can be litter box trained with patience and can learn to walk on a harness and leash. Like dogs and cats; they do need vaccinations
Hopefully this has helped a little with basic small animal selection. There are, of course, other pets to choose from such as chinchillas, rats and mice.
Remember, to ask many questions before you choose, visit small animals at a reputable pet store or breeder and make sure your child and the proposed new pet are a good fit.