If you're thinking about adopting a rodent, whether a rat, some mice or a gerbil or two, there are certain things you need to consider before deciding which species you'd be best suited to. Some rodents are a lot easier to look after than others namely Chinchillas which are considerably more delicate than a hamster.
Below are some top tips which might make your decision a lot easier.
The first thing you need to do is as much homework as possible on the species you're thinking about adopting. You have to be sure the pet (or pets) you take home with you fits in with your lifestyle, and is a good match to your circumstances and personality. The things you need to consider are as follows:
If you're hoping for a pet with a longer lifespan, then think about adopting a cute little guinea pig. These lovely creatures boast lifespans of around 5 to 7 years with some of them living as long as 10 years if well looked after. Guinea pigs are exceptionally gentle by nature, they seldom bite even when they're stressed out and they are great fun to have around. Guinea pigs always have something to say and look forward to being with you when you're at home. They are best kept in same sex pairs and enjoy being with their own kind.
If you think a rodent with a shorter lifespan might be a better choice, then why not adopt a few cute mice. Fancy mice make great pets and live for around 1 to 3 years. They are really easy to keep but mice need to be kept in same sex pairs or small groups otherwise you might end up with too many pets. The thing to bear in mind is male mice tend to fight each other which is something to watch out for. The other advantage to keeping mice, is they don't need a massive cage and a pair can live quite happily in a smallish cage.
You need to take them out and handle them frequently which these little creature love. However, some mice can be a little skittish and extremely quick off the mark which makes them a little hard to handle and interact with. If you keep more than two, make sure they have a larger environment to live in. Mice are very entertaining to watch and make great pets for older kids as long as they understand their pet's daily needs and the importance of cleaning out their cages regularly.
Rats make wonderful pets and love being handled. They live longer than mice with an average life span of around 2 to 4 years – sometimes even longer. Rats are incredibly social creatures and do well when kept in same sex pairs. If regularly handled, rats become very tame and enjoy human contact and companionship. However, they need more in the way of exercise than some other rodents, and need to be taken out of their cages on a daily basis. They are quick learners and can be taught loads of different tricks.
Both hamsters and gerbils have life spans of around 2 to 3 years and whereas hamsters like to lead solitary lives, gerbils on the other hand, are very social creatures prefering to be kept with others of their kind. Dwarf hamsters are incredibly cute and are very popular pets these days, although they have earned themselves a reputation as biters which is why they need to be well handled. A hamster only needs a smallish cage to live in but gerbils need more room, especially as you should keep them in pairs or more. They are great fun to watch when they play with their cage-mates and if well handled, they become quite tame.
If you're thinking about adopting a more exotic pet, a Chinchilla or two might be the perfect choice. These cute rodents are gorgeous looking but they are pretty high maintenance to look after. You would also need to do your homework on how to keep them healthy and happy, in an environment that suits them because they are more delicate than other rodents and particularly sensitive to temperature changes.
Ferrets too make superb pets, but you'd need to have the space to keep them. Some people keep “house” ferrets much as you would keep an indoor cat. Indoor cages have litter trays in them which the ferrets learn to use. Ferrets are very clean creatures that sleep most of the day so for people who work nine to five jobs, this is great because when they get home in the evening, their pet ferrets are just waking up and getting ready to play!
Chipmunks are now popular pets to keep too and these exotic little creatures are extremely amusing to watch although they are brilliant escape artists. This means you need to set up a really secure place for them to live or they might just disappear when you're not looking!
You need to ask yourself the following questions before you decide to adopt a rodent:
Adopting a rodent from a reputable source
It's really important to adopt your chosen pet from a reputable source and the best place is either from a rescue centre or a well established pet adoption website.
Making sure you set up the right habitat for them
You need to make sure you know exactly the kind of environment your pet needs to live in so they stay happy and healthy. It's essential to invest in the right cage for your pet or pets, so they don't escape or injure themselves.
Making Sure You Know All About Their Diet
You need to understand your pet's nutritional needs and you have to buy good quality food for them so they get all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need to stay healthy
Make Sure You Know What Kind of Bedding They Need
You also need to make sure you use the right sort of bedding for you pet. There are some types which are dangerous to certain rodents and which will harm their respiratory systems.
Make Sure You Get Lots of Toys & Treats
You need to invest in some great toys and treats for your adopted pet so they are kept entertained when you're not around. However, you have to make sure the toys you give them are suitable and safe for them to use.
Make Sure Their Environment is Well Maintained
You have to be sure you have the time to keep their cages clean. They need to be in a draft free place that's warm in the winter and cool when the warmer summer weather arrives.
Make Sure Nails Are Trimmed
You need to keep a close eye on the condition of your pet or pets, to make sure they are healthy and in good condition. This includes trimming nails when needed and if you have a long haired pet, they will need regular grooming.
Make Sure a Sick Pet Gets to the Vet in Time
If you notice your pet is looking under the weather, you have to get them to the vets as soon as you can so they can get the necessary treatment to get better again.
Organising Pet Sitters
If you are planning a trip away for a weekend, make sure you organise someone reliable and who you can trust to look after your pets for you. It's better for the people to come to your house every day rather than move your pets to theirs because animals can find moving stressful.