With the many choices available, it’s easy to get confused about the best pet rodent for your child. Imagine walking into a pet rat supplies store and introduced to gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, prairie dogs, rats, etc. Where do you start?
You start by educating yourself briefly about each pet rodent choice: their unique needs, special characteristics, and the degree of care difficulty.
Although small, gerbils are pretty jolly rodents. They’re not a boring pet rodent to have – you can even take them out of their cage to play in the living room. Keep a pair of same sex gerbils if you don’t want to care for a litter, though. Gerbils are pretty easy to house and to feed, too. They require only a small cage and simple pellets, which you can purchase from your pet rat supplies store. A gerbil’s tail can be as long as its body length, but never pick up your gerbil by the tail please!
Guinea pigs are larger compared to other popular pet rodent species. Despite their size, they’re very gentle animals who rarely bite even when provoked. So don’t abuse guinea pigs as they don’t know how to fight back. Their diet is more complex than their smaller pet rodent cousins though. They particularly need vitamin C supplement, which you can readily shop online from pet rat supplies stores. The cavies are social animals too, so a couple of same sex cavies is recommended than keeping only one. They also need their exercise, which they can get from playing in a training wheel in their cage or running in your living room for example.
If you’ve got limited space that you can only squeeze in one small pet rodent, then get a hamster. Hamsters are solitary rodents, so they need to be caged alone. However, despite their size, hamsters are pretty naughty specially those that are not used to human interaction. They’re known to bite! That’s why hamsters may not be the best choice if you have young children at home. There’s no question about their diet and housing needs though. They eat almost anything you give them, but it’s best to give them only hamster food sold in pet rat supplies store where you get your hamster from.
Although mice and rats look exactly alike, they are slightly different in terms of their size. Mice are smaller than rats, and they are more agile and cranky. So you can’t take them out of their cage for playtime. If watching your pets go about their business in their cage is enough for you, you can get mice. A pair of mice requires only a small cage: a 12 inches x 18 inches floor space and 12 inches ceiling will do. This pet rodent species is not expensive to feed; they can eat anything you eat – no need to shop from pet rat supplies stores. However, don’t give them high in salt, sugar, and fat diet to protect their tiny kidneys.
Prairie dogs are the largest among the common pet rodent species. Unlike other pet rodent species that you can easily purchase from pet rat supplies near you, prairie dogs are mostly acquired from the wild as babies. Yes, it’s legal to catch prairie dogs for pets in the U.S. – ask your local authorities if you live in other countries. Despite their size, prairie dogs can be very affectionate animals if you raised them from babies. They’re really like little dogs in terms of affection if they’re well bonded with you. Untamed prairie dogs, however, can bite. So don’t get them as adults if you have young children at home. And because they’re wild animals, prairie dogs need a lot of exercise and interaction, so they need time commitment. They’re fed grass hays, green vegetables, and rabbit pellets on rare occasions.
Despite how rats are condemned in the allies, domesticated rats are very clean and very affectionate pet rodents. In fact, you can take out a well bonded rat from its cage for a playtime. Just keep an eye on it all the time; a rat can’t return home alone if it’s lost. You can feed your rat the same healthy food you ate for dinner, so it’s not expensive to keep a pet rat.
Whatever your chosen pet rodent, it’s best to buy it already tamed and in tip-top shape. Look into small breeders rather than large ones with plenty of stock in their nurseries. Small breeders have more time to spend associating with each rodent, so their rodents are tamer than large breeders’.