If you are a parent, your children will sooner or later ask you for a pet. Getting them a pet and having them take care of it can go a long way in instilling a sense of responsibility in young children.
But deciding which pet to get for your child can be a tough task. The key factors to consider should be how much maintenance in terms of time and expenses the animal needs as well as space constraints. It is for these very reasons that in recent years rodents have become an increasingly popular choice for pets for people across all ages throughout the country.
Why choose a rodent pet for your child?
There are various reasons for the steady increase in popularity that rodents have seen as pets. So here are a few of these reasons as to why one might want to acquire a rodent pet:
- Low maintenance: Many rodents do not need to be looked after constantly and are fine on their own as long as they have food and adequate cage space.
- Space: Apartments in the city often come with a space scrunch that is unsuitable for bigger animals or animals that need to be active. For such families, rodents are a perfect choice as they are tiny and can be kept in small cages.
- Allergies: Oftentimes children are found to be allergic to the fur shed by dogs and cats. Rodents, although furry, do not shed as much and rarely ever trigger allergic reactions.
Rodent pet options
If your kid finds rodents cute and you have decided to get them one, you may still find yourself in the dilemma of having to choose which type of rodent to opt for. So let us get on to discussing the most popular types of rodents that are kept as pets along with their biggest pros and flaws.
Hamsters are one of the most popular rodent pets. They vary in size from anywhere between 1.5 inches for the dwarf breed to 4-7 inches for the larger Syrian and Russian breeds. They have stout bodies, short tails, and round chubby faces due to cheek pockets for storing food. Their cute and chubby appearance contributes majorly to their popularity as pets.
Hamsters are nocturnal creatures that spend most of the day sleeping only waking up for tiny windows of time. They are most active during the evenings and nights. These rodents are low maintenance and easy to entertain and keep occupied with just a simple spinning wheel toy.
- Very loyal once acclimated to owner
- Easy to entertain and play with
- Low maintenance as they sleep all day, so perfect for school-going children
- Do not take up much space
- Sleeps most of the day so cannot be a fulltime companion
- Short lifespans
- They are wary creatures leading them to sometimes bite
Gerbils are active creatures that are very sociable with pet owners. They have tiny furry bodies that are about four inches in size with their tails taking up another 4 inches. Their tail needs careful handling and one should never pick them up by their tails.
They have agouti coloration with combinations of brown, yellow, and grey also mixed in. Gerbils are social and do not do well as solitary pets. As such, they are usually kept in pairs. As they sleep several times a day in little stretches of time, they are active throughout the day.
- Active and social pets
- Cute appearance, curious and playful nature
- Small size
- Does not bite unless threatened
- Short lifespans
- Needs to be kept in pairs
Mice are tiny and furry creatures that are perfectly sociable and can be kept in groups. The best way to house them in a cage is to keep same-sex groups together to prevent unnecessary mating and procreating. These creatures are low-maintenance and inexpensive to keep as pets. They are also easily entertained with food or simple toys.
- Do not require much space
- Low maintenance
- Social creatures that can be housed together with multiple others
- They are very small in size and can be difficult to keep track of
- They may bite if handled by impatient children
- They have short lifespans
Rats are some of the most misunderstood rodents due to the long-held perception of these creatures as pests and carriers of disease. But domestic rats are perfectly safe and hygienic. They tend to be bigger in size than hamsters though they may look similar to the casual observer. The key difference between rats and hamsters as we discussed before are the shape of their body, tail, and face. Rats have a slender and long body and a pointier face. Their tails are also long and hairless.
Rats are some of the most intelligent rodents with the ability to recognize individual members of the family. They are also very active and sociable creatures with a laid-back attitude. They never bite and can even be taught funny tricks.
- They make for intelligent pets capable of performing entertaining tricks
- They are very active and playful
- They stay awake through most of the day
- Due to their larger size, they are easy to keep track of
- They are very active creatures and need more engagement
- They need room for toys and movement in their cage which takes up more space
- They long hairless tails tend to put off people
The Guinea pig varieties that are most commonly kept as pets are the American type with a short and smooth coat of hair, the Abyssinian type with a short coat with swirly patterns called rosettes, and the long-haired Peruvian breed. They are sociable creatures that are usually kept in same-sex pairs. They rarely bite and are quite tame once they get accustomed to their owners. These herbivores require a fresh diet of leafy greens.
- Docile and social creatures
- They can be tamed and rarely bite, so are perfect for young children
- They make for adorable looking pets
- They need a comparatively larger cage space
- They need careful supervision when out of their cage