What Small Animal Is Right for You
So you’re allergic to cats and you don’t want to be constantly covered in dog hair, but you really want to share your life with an animal. What do you do? The answer is simple: Go small!
Many small animals don’t take up a lot of room, are inexpensive and easy to care for, will entertain you with their lively antics, and will even seek your attention and affection. But just like with any pet, you must make an educated decision on which small animal you will eventually bring home. By researching the small animal that’s right for you, you will be able to choose the best one for you and your family.
How big are small animals? How do you handle them? What is required for their care? What animals are available? Answering all these questions will help you narrow down your choices and assist you in making the right decision.
Commitment to Caring
Before all else, you must first commit to providing the best home possible for your small animal. This means buying the optimal cage or enclosure for him. Also, you must clean the cage regularly—they don’t eliminate outside of the house like a dog but instead excrete their waste and live with it in the cage. They can’t clean up after themselves, so you must do it for them, and often.
You must also provide the right diet for your small animal. For example, sugar gliders can be given an occasional insect because they are omnivores by nature. Guinea pigs love fresh fruits and vegetables, but there are some that should be avoided because they are harmful to the animal.
Overall, you need to keep your small animal healthy and happy. Besides seeking veterinary help when necessary, you must know if he is best kept with others of his own kind. Rabbits will develop unwanted behaviors by themselves and become lazy and listless because they are bored—so they do better in pairs. Conduct as much research as possible before you buy your small animal to learn how best to keep him.
Not all small animals are very small. While gerbils are small enough to fit in your hand, rabbits can grow relatively large. Guinea pigs are in between the two, size wise. Decide which size will work for you. Do you want a tiny creature who can be kept in a small cage, or do you prefer one who’s bigger?
Handling and Interaction
Small animals are obviously more diminutive than dogs and cats and therefore more fragile. This means that you must be gentle when handling your pet. If you handle your animal regularly while he is young, he will be less skittish about being held when he’s older. You can wrap your guinea pig up in a towel—they will curl up and squeak contently. A ferret who has happily adjusted to a home will love to be cuddled and petted. Rabbits will play with you while roaming around outside their cages.
All interactions between small animals and young children should be monitored by an adult.
What Is Available?
You will find a variety of small animals available for purchase. Pet stores are sure to carry the more common species—hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, mice, rats, ferrets, and rabbits. If you want a more exotic small animal, like a chinchilla, sugar glider, or hedgehog, you will have to contact a breeder to obtain one. If your pet store cannot recommend one to you, search the Internet for a local breeder or supplier.