Categories | Small Animal Breeder

If you or your family have decided that the time is right to get a pet but you don’t feel that it’s appropriate to get a cat or a dog, there are plenty of small animals that make great pets for kids and adults alike.

What are Small Animals?

Small animals, as suggested, are animals that are smaller in size than your standard pets such as cats and dogs.  This makes them great if you only have limited space as, in many cases, you will just need enough room for their cage, as well as to let them out for some exercise occasionally.

Types of Small Animals

Small animals are more diverse than you might think.  Some of the most popular small animals are actually rodents but don’t let this turn you off!  A rodent is an animal that has front teeth adapted for gnawing and cheek teeth that are adapted for chewing.  These include rats, mice, guinea pigs, and hamsters.  Rabbits, while they are gnawers, are not actually rodents as they have two sets of front teeth, one behind the other. Rather, they are a part of leporidae family.  Some small animals are also part of the weasel family such as the ferret, which is related to the otter, weasel, and badger.

Popular Breeds of Small Animals

There are several different breeds of small animals that you can choose between and some of the most popular are:

  • Rats – rats enjoy human company and they are actually very clean animals, provided that you regularly change out soiled bedding with clean bedding.  Rats are gentle natured, and can even be trained to do simple tricks.
  • Rabbits-- rabbits are a great pet if your child is old enough to handle them correctly (as rabbits sometimes do not like rough cuddles or handling). They can be litter trained and they are very active.
  • Ferrets-- while they are a small animal, ferrets have high energy levels and need plenty of play and social interaction and a cage that keeps them occupied. They are best for older children and adults as they can be a fairly high maintenance, interactive pet.
  • Guinea pigs-- while guinea pigs can sometimes be nervous, they are easily socialised if you have patience and handle them gently.  They are active throughout the night and day but they are very easy to care for.
  • Mice- while you might be skittish at the idea of having a mouse in the family, mice are very clean animals if you change their bedding regularly.  If your mice are well socialised, they love to ride around with their owners.

Choosing a Small Animal Breeder

When it comes to choosing a small animal breeder, no matter what type of small animal it is, there are some things that you can do to make sure that you have chosen the best one for you. This includes:

  • Asking to see the cages and areas where they keep their small animals
  • Ensuring that the animals are kept in clean and hygienic conditions
  • Asking what diet they feed their animals and what supplementation is used (i.e. fresh fruit and vegetables ,etc)
  • Asking to see the mother with her babies
  • Asking how the babies are socialised
  • Finding out at what age the breeder lets their animals go
  • Ensuring that the animal is desexed or that they give you a recommendation on which vet to go to for desexing
  • Animals that look healthy – clear eyes, clean coat, alert to sound , no discharge, and clean and dry feet

The breeder should provide you with detailed care instructions for your new small animal and they should be more than willing to answer questions that you may have.  A good small animal breeder will be more than happy to provide a health guarantee for their animals, which means that you can rest assured in the knowledge that your new pet is healthy, and that if it does become sick, that the breeder will assist in any way possible, including taking the animal back  or paying for veterinary treatment.

How to Choose a Small Animal

When it comes to choosing a small animal, you need to remember that no two types of small animals are the same and they all have different requirements.  If the animal is going to be a pet for your child, make sure that it is age appropriate.  Younger children may need to be supervised with their new pet.

Space is not really a consideration for most small animals but you need to make sure that you have enough room for their cage. Ferrets for example will need large, multi level interactive cages, and rabbits need a cage or hutch that is at least four times its size. You also need to consider how much exercise your pets need. Rats and mice will love to come out for a bit of exploring, while ferrets will zoom all over your house (or even explore the outdoors on a little harness), and rabbits will enjoy a hop around as well.

Think also about the kind of diet that your small animal will need, and what kind of bedding they require.  Can you easily access the appropriate bedding in volumes that are sufficient to keep their cages clean and hygienic?  Some small animals will require complete cage cleaning more often than others so keep that in mind as well.

Also be aware that small animals can have a surprisingly long lifespan so be sure that you are prepared to care for your new pet for ten years or more.

Where to Buy Small Animals

There are a number of avenues through which you can obtain a small animal.  One of the most convenient is the local pet store. Pet stores will often have in rats, mice, rabbits, and guinea pigs, and sometimes they will have ferrets in as well.  Otherwise, you can go to a local breeder who will be able to provide you with excellent quality animals that have the traits that you choose.  In some cases, animal shelters will have small animals that are just waiting for a new home or you can take a look at advertisements, or family and friends that may have young animals.

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