Choosing a Small Pet

Whether you’re a full-grown or pint-size pet-lover, small animals can make the biggest, bestest friends for life. Of course, there are a number of things you’ll want to consider before you decide which critter is right for your family. And to help you make a pet-worthy choice, we’ve listed them here:

Who’s the pet-lover?

Age is a big thing to consider – of the pet-lover who’ll look after the pet, and of the pet you purchase or adopt. So, for starters, if this cuddly critter is meant to be your child’s first pet, consider whether he or she can actually look after him. In most cases, you or another responsible adult will need to keep a beady eye on the kiddie: We all know how much love the littlies have to give. But small and cuddly animals can be quite delicate – and sometimes a child’s loving hug may be a little too loving. You can show them the right way.

Count the critter’s lives.

The life span of your scampering sidekick should also be considered. Some small animals, such as mice and rats, only live for a few years. Rabbits and ferrets, on the other paw, can live roughly six to eight years or longer, with the right care. So, you’ll just want to think about how much time you’re willing to commit to your new furry friend.

Can you run like a rabbit?

Small animals like rabbits and ferrets tend to be social butterflies with fur – and HEAPS of energy. They like to scurry around and play with the best of them. They also need more space and attention than other tiny critters. On the other paw, animals such as guinea pigs are very low-energy creatures. Staying in one place for most of the time, is more up their wire-mesh cage. So, ask yourself if your energy level matches that of the pet you’re dying to adopt.

Nip the teeth issue.

It’s a sharp thing to remember that most small animals have teeth that continue to grow. This means they will chew anything and everything, in order to grind their teeth down. So, you’ll just want to make sure you give your mouthy mate the right chewing toys. This will keep him from gnawing on the things he needs, like water bottles, dishes, houses – and even his own cage.

How pint-size pets compare.

Hamsters Gerbils Mice Rats Guinea pigs
Life span 2–3 years 1–3 years 1–3 years 2–4 years 5–7 years
Social Solitary Actively social Social Social Social
Temperament Agreeable, but defensive Tame, if regularly handled Tame, if regularly handled Very tame and enjoy human company Gentle, even when stressed


Best of luck, small-pet lovers!