April 11, 2012

Furry and Cute: What’s Not to Love About Small Animals??

Though small animals aren’t as commonplace as pet cats and dogs, they are very popular pets!

These little furballs are loveable and fun to watch! However, just because they’re small doesn’t mean they are any less of a commitment. For example, rabbits can live up to ten years, sometimes longer! It’s important to know what to expect, as well as knowing all about your animal’s specific needs. Here is some basic information on the most popular small pets!

Hamsters

Life span: 2-3 years

Things to know:

  • Pet hamsters go by a few different names: dwarf hamsters, teddy bear hamsters, and golden hamsters. The golden hamster, or more officially, the Syrian hamster, is the largest and must have its own habitat.
  • Hamsters are active mostly at night, and when they are awake they keep busy – running on their wheel or burrowing in their cage. It’s probably best to keep their cage out of a bedroom if you’re not used to background noise.
  • Hamsters are known for escaping and are excellent at finding hiding spots. Make sure your hamster has a secure habitat and watch them carefully when they are out of the cage!

Guinea Pigs

Life span: 4-5 years, but can live up to 8 years

Things to know:

  • Guinea pigs should be handled properly early in their life so they get them accustomed to being picked up without scratching or biting.
  • Guinea pigs are most happy when living in pairs or a group. Without a partner, a lone guinea pig is likely to be stressed or depressed.
  • Unlike hamsters, guinea pigs are not escape artists and are timid about exploring

Ferrets

Life span: 7-10 years

Things to know:

  • Ferrets can sleep up to 18 hours per day, and can enter a “dead sleep” where they can’t be woken up even if they are picked up or moved.
  • Ferrets are known for getting into places they shouldn’t (like the inside of your recliner!), and for stealing taking small things. If you’re keys are missing, your pet ferret could be to blame. Because of this, ferrets should always be supervised when they’re not in their cage.

Rabbits

Life span: 10+ years

Things to know:

  • Rabbits can be kept in a protected hutch outdoors, in a cage inside, and can even roam free in a designated space indoors. Outdoor hutches are a good way for rabbits to get fresh air and daylight. Using a combination of inside and outside cages is not uncommon.
  • Bunnies’ bones are very fragile, and they must be picked up with full support given to their belly and bottom.
  • You can teach your rabbit to use a litter box, and come to you when he or she is called. Rabbits also have their own special personalities!

Other popular small animals include gerbils, chinchillas, and hedgehogs! Have you ever owned a small pet, or do you now? If so, share your advice and stories in the comments!

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