Rodents

Article Highlight: Guinea Pig Breeds

Guinea pigs, correctly known as cavies, make wonderful pets. Not only do they have charming personalities but they are also far less prone to nipping than similar small pets like hamsters and gerbils. The American… Keep reading »

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Hamster in a tube; copyright Cardiae at Dreamstime.com

Small, fuzzy and adorable, rodents can make ideal pets for some people. They are very intelligent, and many have personalities that rival a cat or a dog. Explore some of the rodents people keep as pets, and then visit a few breeders and pet shops to compare different species to find the one you like best.

Popular Pet Rodents

Hamsters

Hamsters are nocturnal, so they're most active at night. They typically live about two years, and prefer to be housed by themselves in most cases. Handle them a lot while they're young to tame them and reduce their urge to nip.

Gerbils

If hamsters don't provide the action you crave, you might find gerbils far more amusing. These little devils are active throughout the day, as well as the night. They also live about two or three years, and they like living with a few roommates of their own kind.

Mice

Mice are the tiniest of all pet rodents. They aren't very fond of being handled, and they can be rather nippy. If you're content to look more than you touch, a few mice can make very cute companions for a year or two.

Guinea Pigs

Silkie cavy, aka Guinea Pig; copyright Czertik at Dreamstime.com

Guinea pigs live about five years on average, and they are some of the loveliest pets of all. They have sweet dispositions, will whistle at you in recognition, and rarely ever bite. They come in many colors, and their hair can be long, short, in rosettes or even curls.

Rats

Now if you're looking for a really intelligent pet, consider a rat. Rats can live about three years and make very affectionate pets if they're handled a lot as juveniles. You can even keep a few together if you like because they're sociable.

Basic Rodent Care

All rodents have a few basic needs that must be met in order for them to live happily.

The Right Diet

In most cases, rodents do best on a block or pelleted diets since this type of food is formulated to provide complete nutrition. You can supplement them with various fresh foods for a little variety, and most will appreciate an occasional seed treat as long as you don't make it a steady diet.

Gerbil taking a quick nap; copyright Lockstockbob at Dreamstime.com

Clean, Fresh Water

Rodents kick their bedding around, and they will quickly foul their water if given half a chance. It's best to provide water in a pet water bottle equipped with a drinking tube. Keep a heavy dish beneath the tube to catch the drips and keep the bedding dry.

A Roomy Cage and the Right Bedding

Rodents need a lot of room to move around and good ventilation as well, or the ammonia emitted from their waste can lead to breathing problems. Change the bedding every two to three days, and clean the cage completely once a week.

Is a Rodent the Right Pet for You?

Overall, rodents are fairly undemanding pets, but their cages do need to be cleaned frequently to keep them in good health. Some are more cuddly than others, but most can be handled if you accustom them to this as youngsters. If you really want a furry pet but don't have the time needed to care for a dog or a cat, one of these wonderful rodents might be just the pet for you.

Rodents