Dig this… a portion of this post is sponsored, but opinions are my own and 110% “pawthentic”!
It’s Valentine’s Day, which means that many of us are thinking about celebrating the people and animals that we love the most. And, as any parent of a small pet will agree, sometimes good things come in tiny, squeaky packages! Not only are they cute and fuzzy, many of them actually make great companions. If you’ve never considered the idea of opening your home to small pets like Guinea pigs, rats, mice, gerbils, or hamsters, here are five reasons why these adorable little critters just might steal your heart!
5 Big Reasons to Fall in Love With Small Pets
1. They’re Friendly and Affectionate
Most small pets will bond with their humans if they are handled regularly and gently from a young age. Some require regular handling in order to stay well socialized. Others, like rats and Guinea pigs, are naturally friendly and need attention from their human family!
Just like dogs or cats, these animals have different personalities. Some may be snugly and cuddly, while others are wiggly and more adventurous. Once you’ve gotten to know your own little critter, he’ll be able to tell you exactly what kind of attention he enjoys most!
2. They’re Less Maintenance Than a Dog or Cat
If you’re short on time, but are still craving a little furry companionship in your life, a small pet may be the answer. They spend most of their time in an enclosed habitat and they don’t need to go for long walks. Plus, since many of them are herd animals, you can keep them in pairs or groups, so they keep each other company when you’re away at work or school during the day. Make sure you do your research, though, before giving your furry friend a companion. While some animals, like rats, Guinea pigs, and rabbits, prefer to be kept together, others are better off on their own.
Don’t mistake less-maintenance for zero-maintenance! Their cages need to be spot cleaned daily and cleaned well weekly (more often if you have several animals). And, if you expect to enjoy a strong bond with your pet, spending lots of time handling them is a must!
3. They Need Less Space Than a Dog or a Cat
If you live in a tight space and don’t have the room for a dog or a cat, a smaller pet may be just what you need!
The amount of space needed will vary depending on the type and number of small pets in your family. Obviously, smaller animals like mice will require much less space than a larger pet like a Guinea pig. In general, though, they are happy in an enclosure that will fit easily on a table top or in a corner of a room. Before deciding on a habitat for your furry friend, make sure that you do your research on the space they will need! A single guinea pig, for example, needs a minimum of 2 cubic feet in order to be happy and healthy. More space is required for multiple animals. Other small pets have similar requirements.
Many small pets enjoy spending time out of the cage exploring and exercising. As a matter of fact, daily cage-free time is a must for animals like guinea pigs and rabbits! Many rat lovers also recommend providing lots of chances for them to roam.
Before you let your pets loose, make sure to pet-proof the room. And then supervise them closely to keep them out of mischeif while they’re out. Smaller pets, like mice, hamsters, and gerbils may enjoy roaming the house in a ball that will keep them safely enclosed but still give them some freedom. Rats, Guinea pigs, and rabbits can have a ball thundering around the bathroom or navigating an improvised obstacle course in the living room. And chances are, you’ll have just as much fun watching them as they have playing!
4. They’re Budget-Friendly
After the initial costs of enclosures, wheels, dishes, water bottles, and other necessary equipment (like toys, hammocks, or hide-away houses), caring for a small pet is usually less expensive than caring for a larger animal, like a dog or a cat.
Regular expenses you should still plan for include:
- quality food. Most small pets require food that’s formulated just for them. Many of them can also eat small amounts of fruits, veggies, or other goodies.
- replacing toys. Most small pets are prolific chewers and will gnaw through toys, hammocks, and just about anything you give them in no time! You can cut down on costs by providing them with cardboard tubes and boxes to keep them busy and entertained. Just make sure there’s no tape, glue residue, or harmful chemicals.
- bedding. The bedding in your pets’ enclosure will need to be changed regularly in order to keep them healthy and smelling fresh.
- vet visits. Find a knowledgeable vet who can treat your pet if he gets sick and ask him for advice on special needs and health concerns for your furry friend.
5. They’re Lots of Fun!
From the Guinea pig who steals your heart with his adorable squeaks, squeals, gurgles, and murmurs, to the rat who comes rushing to the side of his enclosure to greet you when you walk in to the room, to the gerbil who entertains you with his playful antics, small pets are big on fun! With patience and training, many of them can even be taught to perform simple tricks! In addition to being loads of fun, the time you spend playing with and training your little critter will keep him stimulated and will help the two of you to bond.
Keeping Your Small Pet Cozy and Clean
Quality bedding is important, both to control odors and to keep your tiny friend healthy and comfortable. My personal favorite is carefresh®. Their colorful creations line, available at PetSmart stores, comes in 6 fun colors that can be mixed into unique blends to complement your decor or celebrate a special occasion. In honor of Valentine’s Day, why not treat your little critter to a festive pink nest? Or green for St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner!
Best of all, carefresh® bedding is not only super-cute, it’s safe and effective, too! Here are a few things I love about it:
- It’s the only bedding made from scratch using sustainable paper fiber, not post-consumer paper products like shredded paper towel or coffee filters.
- The color additives used in the bedding are those with a long history of use in household paper products such as facial tissues or toilet paper. They are also tested by third-party laboratories for animal safety.
- It controls odor for 10 days, is three times more absorbent than wood shavings, and is 99% dust-free – which means easy clean-up for you!
- It doesn’t get mushy and stick to their habitat like other paper bedding products.
- It’s safe for all small pets.
- You can get exclusive offers and information by joining “club carefresh” at carefresh.com.
If you’re getting the urge to scurry out and bring home a small furry friend, make sure you do your research first! They may be little, but they still require care, so it’s important to know what to expect before you commit to a new pet.
If you decide that small pet parenting is for you, check your local shelter or rescue group for animals in need of a home. At any given time at the animal shelter in my town, there are usually between two and ten healthy guinea pigs waiting for adoption. Many other rescue groups will take in rodents for foster care. And what could be better than adding to your family and saving a little life at the same time?
This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions and anecdotes are my own, and I never promote any products or brands I don’t believe in. ~Petfully yours, Kristen