Which Rodent Is the Best Pet

Ok, before I start, I promise to be 100% objective in my opinions, tips, and recommendations. This is because I personally own a bunny and I need to remain impartial for your sake.

My cute, 12-week old Dwarf Hotot, which we decided to call Blacky (in spite of the fact that he’s all white), has been the pride and joy of our home from the moment we bought him.

Rabbits

So, we’ll start with rabbits. They were classified as rodents up until 1912 when they were reclassified as lagomorphs. Since they are a frequent option when future pet parents are trying to decide between rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and rats, we decided to include them in the article as well.

Rabbits are cute, lovable and…demanding. You can keep them in the house but you’ll need a really big cage, 40 by 60 inches is a minimum size, and the bigger is always the better.

The rabbit cage needs to be well built and needs to have a feeder for a mixture of seeds and grains and pellets for bunnies, a water bowl, a grass feeder and a bedding which completely covers the bottom of the cage.

Since we have a garden, we keep our bunny outside so he can enjoy the sun and fresh air, and hop around to his heart’s content.

However, we don’t let it roam freely as it’s next to impossible to catch him later. On a few occasions, I spent half an hour chasing him around the garden with the help of my kids. Unlike when they are sitting calmly in their cage, once they’re out they turn into fast and furious fuzz-balls.

We recommend buying a bunny-proof leash. We found a suitable stainless steel stake with a convenient loop on top and we keep him on the leash now when he’s in the garden. He has a radius of about ten feet to hop around in the fresh grass.

On rainy days, we spread a light green bed sheet, which we allocated for Blacky only, and we cover the carpet in the living room. Our bunny freely jumps on the sheet and rarely roams onto our oak flooring as it’s too slippery for him.

Why is this containment necessary? Firstly, bunnies like to nibble everything they come across, including all sorts of cables and we don’t want him electrocuted and we also don’t want damages to our laptop, lamp, and phone charger cables.

The second reason (and this is also why we choose a light colored spread over the carpet) is that bunnies poop a lot. And I do mean a lot! Their poop is odorless, comes out round in shape and is the size of smaller peas.

A few more words about their poo (because this might be a deal breaker for some of you): you need to clean the cage daily and remove all the poo.

We don’t mind this level of dedication on our part because of the amount of joy our bunny gives us while he’s frantically hopping about or calmly sitting in our laps letting us pet him. The joy greatly outweighs the nuisance maintenance chores.

As for food, bunnies eat a lot and they must not be left out without hay and fresh water. The pelleted food or mixture of seeds and pellets should be given in the ratio of 25 grams a day per 1 pound of their body weight and not more. Our Blacky, being a Dwarf Hotot breed, will reach a maximum weight of about 3 pounds.

Rabbits are prone to obesity if you overfeed them and they need a minimum of 3-4 hours a day of hopping around so that they remain healthy and not end up with diabetes as a result of malnutrition and lack of activity.

All bunnies are lovable, affectionate and fun to watch and play with. In general, they prefer being outdoors, but your garden has to be safe for your bunny. Our cats, for instance, won’t bother our bunny but dog owners won’t be able to leave their bunnies out and unattended.

Food and maintenance are inexpensive and the only real investment worth considering is a big and quality cage for the home or a rabbit hut for your garden or yard.

They can live up to ten years and are a perfect choice for kids and adults alike provided that you can devote a time during the day to let them out to play and clean their cage.

Since they are not nocturnal animals, you’ll be able to enjoy their company during the day and you won’t have to wait until nighttime, as is the case with some pet rodents. 

Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are also simply adorable and endearing pets. They have an average lifespan of 5-7 years.  The more you interact with them, the more affectionate and gentle they will be with you around.

Lots of critter lovers keep guinea pigs, also called cavies, as pets because they are cute, affectionate and fun to spend time with.

Cavies come in different breeds. The length of their fur varies as well as the color. The American Cavy Breeders Association lists 13 breeds and 10 main colors of these lovable pets.

Their health and happiness mainly depend on your care, so you need to be devoted pet parents. They are about 10 inches long, weigh 2 pounds on average and also need quite a large and good quality guinea pig cage.

Their cage also needs bedding, the usual furniture, and some toys. A welcomed addition to the cage would be a box with one or more entrances. It will give them a sense of protection and a secluded place to sleep.

As is the case with rabbits, cavies’ cages have to be spot-cleaned every day and thoroughly cleaned weekly.

They are very social and it’s recommended to keep them in pairs of the same sex, to avoid fights and uncontrolled reproduction.

Cavies are child-friendly as they rarely bite, even when they are stressed for some reason. In addition, you won’t have to worry about children handling cavies since cavies are bigger and less fragile than the smaller rodents.

They have a tad demanding diets. Apart from a fresh supply of hay and veggies, they need adequate amounts of vitamin C.

In general, they are quite healthy and prevention will do pet parents a world of good. As guinea pigs come from cool climates, they don’t like hot and humid conditions. If you keep them inside, they will be less likely to overheat or dehydrate.

They are not as fragile as rabbits and they are less skittish than hamsters so they make wonderful pets for kids.

You will soon find out that cavies have colorful personalities. Some are shy while others are courageous and nosy. Don’t get confused: if two guinea pigs look about the same, that doesn’t mean that they will also behave in the same manner.

When selecting them in a pet store, make sure to interact with them to see what they are like. You’ll probably expect their personalities to match your kids’ as well as your own character and expectations. If you’re looking for a cuddly pet, you’ll need a friendly and regularly handled piggy.

As for the sounds, while rabbits are completely quiet and never make a sound, guinea pigs make a quiet but audible vibrating sound when they are happy. They purr when they are petted gently, almost like cats.

They also make other sounds when they are excited, hungry or upset. When they are super happy or excited, they will jump up straight into the air over and over. Some will run back and forth quickly while others will kick out their front and back legs while squealing simultaneously. It’s called “popcorning” and it is pretty amusing to watch.

While hamsters and rats live only two to three years, most guinea pigs live five to seven years. If your kids lose interest in them over time, be prepared to take up full responsibility. Being cute and lovable, cavies will be enjoyable companions for adults, as well which is why they are so popular. They’re even featured in some animal riddles!

Hamsters

These cute rodents have been kept as pets for a long, long time. It’s often tempting to buy one for your kids. However, a few things require putting some more thoughts into buying this cute, furry, and lively little rodent.

First of all, hamsters are nocturnal. This means that they will be most active at night, while you are sleeping. If you’re a light sleeper, the noise made by a squeaking wheel at 3 a.m. will possibly make you regret you had bought one. If you are a night owl, however, a hamster would be the perfect companion for you.

You can keep them away from your bedroom, of course, but kids tend to like their pet in their own room. The children would like to play with their pet during the day. Sadly, just when it’s time for your kid to go to bed, it’s also the time for a hamster to wake up.

During the day, a hamster awakened suddenly from a nap may bite. This is why hamsters need to be handled only with adult supervision by children under 7-8 years old.

In addition, Hamsters need a gentle touch and can be easily startled by sudden movement and loud noises your kids will make. The motor skills of children under 7 are usually not refined enough to make their hamster feel comfortable while handled. Young children who lack fine motor control might accidentally drop the hamster, squeeze him, or scare him into biting.

We need to mention that kids under 5 are particularly vulnerable to the effects of salmonella and some other bacteria and diseases as they often handle pets without washing their hands afterward.

Hamsters are solitary and territorial critters. They need their own space and can seriously injure other hamsters if you keep them in the same cage. A female hamster may kill and eat her babies if she’s disturbed, stressed or simply feels that there are too many mouths to feed. Not a pretty site for your kids and you.

Hamsters usually live 2 to 3 years. If you aren’t ready for a long-term commitment to a pet, this may be OK. However, if you have young children who will not be prepared for a sudden death of their pet, you might prefer a longer-lived rodent.

For your hamster, you will need a well made and spacious cage, bedding and nesting materials, a nesting box, an exercise wheel, a food dish, a water bottle, food, toys, and treats.

They need a varied diet but there is a wide range of foods hamsters eat. There are also foods to avoid on the list we provided.

Rats

Rats are wonderful pets for families with children, and adults themselves alike. They are intelligent, funny, very inquisitive and quite easy to look after. This is why rats have been kept as pets for over a century.

One of the greatest things about rats as pets is their colorful personalities.  that they have. Each rat has a personality of his own, which pet owners discover and start to appreciate over time.

There are rats that are shy and cuddly, and there are mischievous little rascals.  

All they need for a healthy an enjoyable time with you and your family is a quality rat cage which needs to be safe, and comfortable for rats and convenient for the owner to clean. 

You’d be surprised how quickly these little escape artists can vanish from their cage so choose the cage carefully. After all, the cage is the only major initial investment. Get the most spacious cage you can afford. You’ll be buying a suitable cage only once so the price should not be a problem, especially if you will have more rats in the same cage.

Rats, as most rodents, also need a varied diet which includes adequate amounts of protein, fruits, and vegetables. If you give them the right kind of food and look after them they will live a healthy and happy life.

These super cute rodents live 2-3 years maximum but if they socialize and get used to you from a very young age, these docile and tremendously amusing rodents will likely be hanging out on your shoulder or exploring your pocket in no time.

Overall, there’s no such thing as the best pet rodent: there’s only the best pet rodent for you. This is why we decided to give you the basic info so that you can make an informed decision about which pet to buy based on your preferences and lifestyle.

Whatever your choice is, we’re sure you’ll have loads of fun with your pet and your life and the lives of your kids will be brighter with one small lovable living creatures around.

 

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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