Pet Rodent Types, Care Advice and Names

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Woman holding cute little hamster

Small, fuzzy, and adorable, rodents can make ideal pets for many 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, then visit a few breeders, pet shops, or rescues to compare different species and find the one you like best.

Popular Pet Rodents

Each of the most popular pet rodent species has unique characteristics. Find the best choice for you based on their size, personality, lifespan, and care level, among other qualities.


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 your hamster a lot while they're young to tame them and reduce their urge to nip.


Gerbil in a pot

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 to be about 2 or 3 years old, and they like living with a few roommates of their own kind.


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 at a pet more than you can touch, a few mice can make very cute companions for their lifespan of a year or 2.

Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs live about 5 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.


Now, if you're looking for a really intelligent pet, consider a rat. Rats can live about 3 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.


Chinchillas are attractive, soft, and graceful pet rodents, though they do require a bit more care than the others. Chins take adorable dust baths to keep their fur healthy. These pets also live to be over 10 years old, so make sure you're ready for that commitment.

Basic Rodent Care

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

The Right Diet

Guinea pig just eating from a green plate

In most cases, rodents do best on 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.

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.

Cute Names for Pet Rodents

Woman's hands holding a little rat

Deciding on a rodent species isn't the only choice you will face; you'll also need to pick a great name for your new pet. From hamsters to mice or even chinchillas, it's fun to choose a name based on the pet rodent type. Are you adopting a pair of rodents? Consider creative pet duo names. The options are endless.

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.

Pet Rodent Types, Care Advice and Names