file000304340753Gross, freaky and scary are just a few unjust names I have heard referring to small rodents. These small creatures are commonly passed by as pets simply due to the lack of knowledge on how amazing these animals can be.

I have had the pleasure of working with and owning many different small rodents over the years and have found many sweet souls. I believe that some small rodents like rats, hamsters and chinchillas can make amazing pets and if given the chance will melt your heart. Understanding your pet rodent is very important. These little creatures are very loving, but have a few special requirements to make sure they have the best life possible.

A rodent is a relatively small gnawing mammal that has in both jaws a single pair of incisors with a chisel-shaped edge. More than one third of mammals are rodents — there are over 1,500 living rodent species. The majority of people are familiar with rodents sold as pets such as mice, rats, guinea pigs and hamsters; however, beavers, porcupines and chinchillas are also included in the rodent family.

RATS: The Brown Rat, also sometimes referred to as the Fancy Rat, is the most common species to be sold as a pet in a pet store. These animals are actually very loving and make loyal pets for children and adults alike, living between two to three years. I always recommend getting your pet rat young, since they are more likely to have a stronger bond with their human. A cage that is suitable for your rat will depend on its size. They will need plenty of room to move about and get exercise. Adding a exercise wheel and lots of toys will help to stimulate your pet rat. Daily cuddles are required as well as fresh food and water! Rats are extremely smart, can learn commands and after time will know their names and can be taught many different tricks. Rats love attention and especially hand-given treats provided by their favorite person.

HAMSTERS: There are many different types of hamsters that are sold as pets. All hamsters live one to two years and grow anywhere from 2 to 6 inches, depending on the breed. The regular size Syrian or Golden Hamster is often seen in pet stores as well as dwarf breeds, like Robo (Roborovski), Chinese and Russian. Hamsters make amazing little pets with a fiery personality. They do not need a large area to live in but do like to chew and burrow, so lots of toys and a soft bedding is recommended. These little souls will need daily handling, loving and a lot of patience when working with them. Because they are so little they can get scared easily, so always remember to never wake a sleeping hamster. Being tidy is what a hamster is all about; they will make a “potty room” as well as a “bedroom” in their cage, so make sure there are plenty of options for them.

GUINEA PIGS: Also known as cavies, these fur babies are fun rodents to own. Living between five to seven years and usually weighing up to 2 pounds, they are calm and docile but can still be lively  little pets. Guinea pigs are very vocal and will make a variety of sounds when the see their favorite person, are waiting to get a treat or get excited for any reason. When handled daily these guys make a great pet for younger kids and love getting exercise by running and playing with toys. They will need fresh food and water everyday as well as fresh hay. Guinea pigs love to eat so making sure to feed the correct amount will help your cavy to not become overweight.

I understand that rodents are not for everyone, and some people will always have a fear of them. But I hope that they next time you are in a pet store you will take a moment to hold and cuddle a rodent or at least take the time to understand them. I have many friends and clients with rodents as pets and have never been happier or owned a more loving pet.

We love our pets, they deserve the best (even the little guys)!

Audrey Lohrey

Audies Angels

Do you own a rodent as a pet? Would you ever consider one as a pet? Let me know what you think!