The most common small mammals you will find at a pet store are hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, and ferrets. Many other small mammals are now being kept as pets in many parts of the world. Some are labelled as "exotics" and are recent additions to the pet trade and are not well known. Some of these new animals are just better left in the wild.
Small pets can be great for children and adults, offering companionship and entertainment. Small mammals are fairly easy to care for and are a joy to have as companion animals, especially for people with busy lifestyles or small spaces. If handled gently and regularly from a young age, they will lavish you with affection and provide hours of entertainment.
Even a small mammal requires care, time and attention so make sure you understand the commitment necessary to take on a pet. Some small pets are susceptible to overheating, especially guinea pigs, chinchillas, and rabbits. Overweight animals, and those that have heavy fur, are also more prone to heat stress. Older and sedentary animals may also be more at risk, especially if they do not drink normal amounts of water.
|Hamsters: Hamsters are stout-bodied, with tails much shorter than body length and have small furry ears, short stocky legs, and wide feet. Hamsters are omnivorous. Their diet consists mostly of grains but also includes fresh fruit, roots such as carrots, green parts of plants. Like all pets, hamsters need exercise and entertainment to maintain their physical and mental health. "Exercise wheels" allow hamsters to run full speed, and are a common fixture in pet hamsters' enclosures.
Gerbils: A gerbil is a rodent halfway between a rat and a mouse in size. They're usually 2-4 oz, and have a slightly different facial shape than a mouse or rat. Their long tails are covered with fur and end in a tuft. Gerbils make fun and entertaining pets for both young and old. Their antics and family interactions can entertain you for hours. They are also incredibly friendly pets. Gerbils require a minimum of care.
Mice:The most commonly available type of mouse available as a pet is the domestic pet mouse. These pet mice have been selectively bred to enhance the desirable qualities of the mice. The terms fancy and "feeder mice" are often used interchangeably by retailers, and are in fact the same variety of mouse. It is not natural for a mouse to allow itself to be handled by a human. However with training a mouse can be conditioned to handling, although some are more accommodating than others.
Rats: Pet rats truly are the greatest pets! Pet rats are affectionate and love human attention. They are lots of fun to play with. They come when you call them and love to interact with people. Their average life span is 2-3 years with a length of 9-11 inches and a tail of 7-9 inches. They are a nocturnal animail so they will be most active at night.
Guinea Pigs: The Guinea pig is a species of rodent. Despite their common name, these animals are not pigs, nor do they come from Guinea. Guinea pigs thrive in groups of two or more, generally live in cages, although some owners of large numbers of guinea pigs will dedicate entire rooms to their pets.
Rabbits: Rabbits are a popular house pet. Social as well as active and playful, they can make wonderful pets for adults and children. It is important to have the right living situation, be fully educated about proper rabbit care, and be ready to take care of this pet for up to 10 years. Rabbits are by nature very clean.
Ferrets: The ferret is a domestic mammal. Ferrets spend 14 to 18 hours a day sleeping and are most active during dusk and dawn. When awake they will seek to be released from their cage to get exercise and satisfy their abundant curiosity daily. Ferrets are energetic, curious, interested in their surroundings, and often actively solicit play with humans. Many owner feel you should have a pair so as to keep each other entertained.