Cute, furry, and little: it’s easy to see why small rodents as pets appeal to children. Used in classrooms across the country as a real-life teaching example of responsibility, kindness, and basic animal biology, bunnies, rats, Guinea pigs, and hamsters can be a child’s best friend. However, it is important for New Bedford pet owners to carefully consider which pet they decide to adopt for a child. Prospective pet owners should also look into veterinary care in Massachusetts for your new family friend and make sure to provide regular check-ups in addition to proper diet and habitat.
Most small animals are easy to care for and are perfect for children over the age of five. For best results, take time to do some research before bringing any new pet in your home to make sure you will be able to provide the care that it requires. Each type of pet has unique needs that must be met that can help you make an informed decision. We have provided a basic overview of the most common small rodents as pets in the New England area. If you are interested in learning more about a specific pet, consider contacting our veterinary clinic or do some additional research online.
Popular Pet #1 – The Hamster
There are many different varieties of hamsters available for adoption. Smaller breeds are often much more aggressive and nippy than the larger, more docile hamsters that most people think of when they consider them for pets. For example, the Syrian hamster is much easier for children to handle and is typically much more agreeable to being handled. Russian “robo” hamsters and dwarf hamsters are a better choice for older children or for kids who want to look but not touch. Regardless of the size of the animal, New Bedford pet owners should get a cage that has lots of room, tunnels, and areas for sleeping, eating, and “bathroom” activities. The enclosure should be cleaned regularly, so choose a cage that will lend itself to frequent cleanings. The average hamster lives approximately three years, so make sure your child will stick with it if you adopt one. Some hamsters live less than the expected period of time, so be prepared for another life lesson opportunity to deal with loss.
A Classroom Favorite – The Guinea Pig
While in the same family as hamsters, the noble Guinea pig is quite a different animal that has many unique needs. Extremely gentle and sweet, Guinea pigs are a popular pet for classrooms for a good reason. They do not mind being handled and love to be sociable. Training for children on how to properly hold and care for these cuddly rodents is required to ensure a positive experience for all. Due to their need for interaction and companionship, many New Bedford pet owners get two of these small rodents as pets to keep each other company. They live approximately five to seven years but require more effort to keep them fed and clean. In addition to the “kibble” that you see at your local pet store, Guinea pigs love to also eat fresh vegetables and lots of Timothy hay. Big cages and big appetites can be difficult for some people to manage, so make sure you know what you are getting into with Guinea pig care and feeding before you bring one (or two) home.
Smart & Active: The Fancy Rat
Unlike the dark, sinister, and disease-infested rats you might be picturing when you think about adopting one of these small rodents as pets, fancy rats are very clean, calm, and even patient with children. They are not as nippy as hamsters or gerbils, which means that they can be handled a lot with care. However, because they are very smart and active, they require recreation and activities to keep them occupied. Fancy rats can learn tricks, navigate mazes, and excel at obstacle courses. They enjoy lots of toys and accessories to keep them busy. Their diet consists of rat pellets, which can be found at most pet stores, along with fresh fruits and vegetables to meet their dietary needs. Rats live between two to three years, similar to hamsters. They require an enclosure that has a good lock on it to prevent escapes and a lot of human interaction.
Litter-Trainable: The Rabbit
Similar to hamsters, there are many different varieties of rabbits and bunnies to choose from for New Bedford pet owners. Veterinary care in Massachusetts is a must for these friendly and cuddly rodents because they can live between eight to twelve years and yes, they can be litter-trained like a cat. An excellent choice for children, rabbits can be handled easily with some training for the humans. Many experts recommend getting pet rabbits spayed or neutered like cats and dogs to prevent any aggression, spraying, and some cancers. Do some research on diet and habitat for these amazing creatures, who primarily dine on rabbit pellets, grass hay, and fresh veggies. Regular cleanings of the enclosure are required to prevent illness and ensure a long and happy life.
Need Veterinary Care in Massachusetts?
New Bedford pet owners have trusted Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth since 1975. We are a very knowledgeable veterinary team with many years of training and experience. Our mission is to continue expanding our abilities using the latest technology and techniques to provide high-quality medicine, surgery, and preventive veterinary services for every pet we see. Give us a call at 508-996-3731 to schedule an appointment or to learn more about keeping Guinea pig care and feeding or keeping small rodents as pets in New England.