Picking the Right Pocket Pet

There are many different types of pocket pets that can make great pets. Family lifestyle plays an important role in picking the appropriate species to adopt. Available space, time for training and potential cost for veterinary care should also be considered.

Hamster Considerations

Hamsters are nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and are awake only at night. Cages are often kept in kid’s rooms, but at night when the hamster is awake and running in their wheel it can lead to many sleepless nights. Like all pets, hamsters can bite if they are startled. They may be small in size, but they have sharp teeth that can cause damage. The typical life span of a hamster is only 1.5- 2 years, shorter than realized by most owners. It is often best if they are kept alone to avoid any fighting and unwanted litters.

Guinea Pig Care

Guinea pigs are more docile and relatively easy to care for and handle. They require an added source of vitamin C as they cannot convert the vitamin C found in their food into a usable form. Their teeth continuously grow throughout their life, they can wear their teeth down by chewing, but not always, so trimming is often required by your veterinarian. They are generally sweet little pets but can cry out in protest when handled or when they hear the fridge door open in anticipation of getting a treat.

Rabbit Tips and Advice

Rabbits can be affectionate, and sometimes not. They are in a class called lagomorphs because they have peg teeth behind their front incisors. Rabbits should be handled carefully- never restrained by their ears- their skeletons are more fragile than other animals and can break their spine if they kick out too forcefully with their hind legs. Rabbits require a diet high in fibre, Timothy hay is the best option for them as it is lower in calcium when comparing to alfalfa hay. If rabbits have too much calcium in their diet, it can lead to bladder problems. Rabbits are notorious for chewing anything they can get- cords, walls and furniture. They can be litter box trained and even taught to do rabbit agility.

Hedgehog Insights

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, just like hamsters. They are considered invertebrate predators, so their diet must consist of insects and worms. They have poor vision but make up for it with exceptional hearing and smell. They are solitary creatures and must have a hiding place they can call their own. The spines on their skin and tendency to roll in a ball make examinations, and even nail trims difficult, often an anaesthetic is required to get the job done properly.

Health Concerns

Like our dogs and cats, pocket pets are also at risk of getting many diseases, for example – skin, gastro intestinal, respiratory and reproductive diseases. Pocket pets will hide signs of illnesses, often until they are extremely sick. If you adopt a pocket pet and notice any changes in behaviour or eating patterns, it is important to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

If you are thinking of adopting a pocket pet and require more information on how to care for them, please contact Lomsnes Veterinary Hospital.

Written by Kate, RVT