7 Reasons Why Pocket Pets are a Great Addition to the Family
Not every home is right for a dog or a cat. Other pets can better fit into a family's lifestyle and bring just as much joy to its human members, including smaller animals sometimes known as "pocket pets."
What are pocket pets? Any small mammal that can be easily kept as a pet, such as a rabbit, ferret, guinea pig, chinchilla, hamster, gerbil, rat or mouse. While the name implies that these pets are small in size, they require —and deserve—the same affection, care and medical services that are recommended for larger animals.
Smaller pets can become much loved furry family members, regardless of their size or special care requirements. Here are seven reasons why adding a pocket pet to your family can be great.
"While the name implies that these pets are small in size, they require —and deserve—the same affection, care and medical services that are recommended for larger animals." TWEET THIS
- Pocket pets don't take up much space.
While a cat may need the run of your home and a dog may need a yard and space to exercise, smaller pets can stay in a cage or a smaller room of your home. All small mammals need exercise and time out of their cages, but many of their needs can be satisfied by a well-planned habitat that gives them space to move but doesn't take up a significant area of your house.
- Your children can provide care for a pocket pet.
Never rely entirely on a child to care for an animal, and always make sure that the animal has food, water and a clean environment at all times. But with careful adult supervision, children can keep pocket pets in their own rooms and take responsibility for daily feeding and cleaning. As a primary caregiver, your child can form a special bond with your pet that encourages a lifelong love for animals.
- Some pocket pets require less involvement.
While every pet deserves proper care and affection, not all pocket pets need to be handled for hours each day. Smaller animals like gerbils may be happy with regular care, treats and minimal handling. Other pets like rabbits may prefer to interact with you on the floor rather than being held and moved around.
- It's easy to provide a companion.
Many mammals prefer companionship of their own species, and you can house two pocket pets for not much more cost or space than you could do with one. Veterinary science allows for even smaller animals to be spayed and neutered, or you can get a same sex pair. Make sure you do your research first, though— some types of hamsters, for example, prefer to be solitary.
- The lifespan of a pocket pet may be more appropriate for a family.
While some pocket pets live for many years—chinchillas, for example, could outlive a dog or cat—some smaller animals typically live only a few years. A rat or hamster may live 2 to 3 years, a guinea pig or hedgehog could live 5 to 7 years and a rabbit or ferret can live up to 10 years. While dealing with the death of a beloved pet can be hard, the shorter lifespans of these animals may be a good fit for a family where kids will be growing up and heading out in a few short years.
- Pocket pets can be very intelligent.
Did you know you can clicker train rats, teach ferrets to perform tricks or coach rabbits to walk on a harness and leash? Despite their size, most small mammals are smart and can enjoy learning new skills.
- Smaller pets have tons of personality.
The more you interact with a pocket pet, the more you'll see how each one has individual preferences and can form a unique bond with your family members. Even tiny animals can be great companions.
Of course, many pocket pets have special requirements for diet and care. They also need regular medical checkups and may do best in a home environment if spayed or neutered. We're happy to answer any questions you have about small mammals as pets and we encourage doing research before bringing one of these animals into your home. Contact us today for more information about pocket pets and their care requirements.
About Dr. Natalie Waggener
Dr. Natalie Waggener has 17 years of experience in emergency work and general practice in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts. She has a special interest in dentistry, wellness care and rehabilitation therapy. She is currently licensed in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.