One day your child inevitably starts to ask if they can have a small furry pet. Whether its a hamster, gerbil, or perhaps a mouse, here are some things that you might want to think about before you purchase one. Even though a hamster might be the logical pick, perhaps some of these other furry creatures might be a better fit. Let me outline some of their characteristics.
Hamsters are the most popular. They are solitary animals, so just buy one, because they will fight and sometimes to the death if kept together. They are nocturnal, so you might not be able to handle the gnawing, scratching and other noises during the night. They also like to bite. This stems from poor eyesight, so if they feel threatened they may bite you, especially if you wake them from a deep sleep.
Mice are very social by nature, so no mouse should be kept alone if possible. Instead, buy 2 or 3 mice of the same age and sex. This will make them happier to have someone to play with. Mice are also far more acrobatic than hamsters, hence you will love to see their ability to climb, jump and swing on toys placed into the cage. Mice are far less likely to bite than hamsters, so handling by a child will be more of a happier event. The downside of a mouse is that they are very smelly, especially males. So, you must clean their cages every 3 days at a minimum.
Rats aren’t just “big mice.” Like with mice being smelly, rats on the other hand are very clean animals — meaning a virtually scent-free cage. Rats are also very intelligent, actually more than other small rodents. This can make them a fun pet that you can teach tricks to. They will get to know different family members and will get close to you as an individual. Like mice, they almost never bite, and tend to act like cats. It isn’t out of the question for your rat to curl up on your lap and take a nap.
Gerbils are a small rodent that never bites. Their obsession is digging. Its exciting watching them digging burrows and hiding in them. They are also social animals like mice, so getting 2 or 3 will make them happier pets. The downside is that they are gnawing animals so only glass or metal water bowls, food bowls or toys is appropriate. Anything plastic will be turned into dust. Also, they are very quick animals, and it maybe hard for a young child to get them under control when handling them.
Small rodents can be a joy as a first pet for your child. Its a perfect way to start teaching them how to care for a pet, whether its through cleaning their cage or feeding them.