Rodent House Pets
So I have this urge to get a pet, but haven't had one in decades. I don't have the space for a dog, and my apt. won't allow a cat. I considered some of the reptile options discussed in the reptile thread, and now I'm thinking about a small mammal, probably a rodent of some type instead. Specifically because I want a pet that I can interact with, play with a little and that is also easy to care for and relatively hardy. I can afford to buy a fairly nice cage so that's not a problem. The reptiles seemed OK but in the end I doubt they would be intereactive enough for my taste.
What are folks' experience with rodents as house pets? Of the options, the top 3 for me seem to be:
1)A pair of guinea pigs. I read that these fellas are unhappy alone so you need to get a pair (same sex to prevent pop. explosion). Advantages: cute, cuddly, allegedly very friendly, make funny noises. Disadvantages: they poop a lot, eat hay, stink a bit more than some rodents, and are on the big side for a rodent.
2)A pair of rats. I read that like guinea pigs, they are unhappy alone. Advantages: the smartest and most trainable of this class, allegedly very tameable and sociable, not too big, not too smelly. Disadvantages: they require a lot of activity, climb a lot and sadly, they are rats. I just have a certain anti-rat cultural bias, but perhaps I can overcome it.
3)A hamster. These are supposedly fine solo. Advantages: small, not too difficult to care for, cute, and housable in a fairly small cage. Disadvantages: these are a kid's pet, I can't shake the feeling, not sure if they are as interesting/active as rats or as cuddly as guinea pigs, they seem a bit bland.
So what do folks think about small pets, especially rodents? (I do understand that all of these pets would have fairly short life spans compared to many other pets.)
There's also the possibility of a gerbil.
My 5th grade class had two gerbils and a hamster as class pets. They were named Dividend, Quotient, and Show-Vel respectively (the last one was to help the kids remember how to spell shovel... Even at the ripe age of 10 I can remember a bit of contempt for the kids who couldn't spell). I remember them all being pretty social animals. And they're CUTE!
Gerbils can be useful around the house as well.
Have you considered a chinchilla? I consider them the cutest of the rodents, though I'm not sure how they measure up against others in terms of being good pets. Apparently they can become very attached to their owners if they bond at a young age. They also require a larger space than some of the other, smaller rodents.
So does anyone have any actual experience with rodent house pets? Good, bad, indifferent? That chinchilla does look pretty cute :o. I don't remember now why I felt they were not a top contender. Something about sand baths?
You could get a chihuahua, they're pretty much rodents.
We've had gerbils and a hamster. The gerbils turned out to be of the opposite sex and immediately began a Malthusian experiment. It's hard to become attached to a group of critters that eat their own young and scream like the damned. Eventually pet stores stopped buying and friends stopped taking them and, well, I don't remember how we got rid of them all but we did. The hamster was really boring. I don't think I've ever seen a fatter and lazier mammal. It was so unmemorable that I haven't thought of it in years and can't remember its name.
Originally Posted by Sharpe
Guinea pigs are pretty fun. A girl I know has one, and it does all sorts of crazy stuff. By far the best rodent I've interacted with.
I also knew some kids who had pet rats, a pet squirrel and a pet gopher when I was younger. The rats creeped me the hell out, and the kids ended up in the hospital with ratbite fever after kissing them. Rat piss is extremely foul smelling. The gopher was extremely stupid, but he was big enough that you could take him for walks. The squirrel and I did not get along.
Mice are also pretty neat. I don't remember anyone ever owning them, but like all middle schools, mine had a pair.
I have had two rats and currently have a guinea pig and a rabbit. Rats are really great, friendly, and trainable, but the males are pretty much constantly marking everything with urine. This isn't a wet urine, but ultimately the fact that my rats were pissing on everything finally got to me. It's best to get a rat when it's young, but they're very difficult to sex at that age, so it's pretty much a crap shoot on gender. They do tend to be extremely sweet, but definitely need a lot of attention. They also only live about two years on average, since domesticated rats have a terrible time with their respiratory system. Never, ever use pine or shavings with any rodent, but especially not with a rat. That's a pretty good way to guarantee an early end from respiratory problems. They also shit indiscriminately. And are nocturnal, so unless you keep the strange hours that I used to, you'll not often see it awake except for early in the morning or late at night. Both of my rats LOVED banana chips. Watching them hold a banana chip in their front paws and nibble away was just awesome.
Of all of these, I like the guinea pig the most. They're not the smartest and definitely shit a lot, but, in general, they're really chill and down with being held. All rodents are going to smell, but cleaning out their enclosure every few days is an easy way to combat this. There are also some water additives that are good for combating urine odor that we have really good luck with, although they're expensive.
Degus are pretty cool too.
Where do you live? I actually just came across a woman selling four female Degus with an enclosure for $40 if you're anywhere near NC (for some reason, I seem to recall that you are). The more I read about Degus, the more I think they'd be great pets for what you're looking for. They live for 8 to 9 years, appear to be very social and grow to bond closely with their owner, and, probably best of all, are diurnal, so are awake when you are. They suck at insulin production and are susceptible to diabetes, unless you feed them a very specific diet. Which isn't hard, it just means no human treats like you can give to a rat. The degu that I've spent the most time with collected sticks. Whenever it met anyone new, it very excitedly paraded each stick in its collection for the new person to see.
Last edited by tiohn; 11-05-2008 at 05:41 PM.
I had guinea pigs as a kid. My parents picked one up for Christmas one year. Turned out it was pregnant, so it brought its own entourage.
On the whole, they were pretty good pets. Your pro's just about nail it, but on the con side, the same "Cute" noises can sometimes escalate to sound like finger nails on a black board if they just keep going.
The stink can be easily resolved with regular cage cleanings, and fresh wood chips.
Though on a cuteness scale, that chinchilla might just top the pig.
That's the best part!
Originally Posted by Sharpe
I'm actually the world's most ignorant chinchilla booster, I just think they're really cute.
I had a few pairs of gerbils as a kid, one of which had a population explosion like Aeon's. They never ate their young or screamed, but they did scrabble against the plastic of their Habitrail cages a lot (so use glass if you get gerbils). I liked them but they weren't much fun, really. My sister's cat wanted badly to kill them but never succeeded.
Man, those degus look like gerbils that have been 'roided up to chinchilla proportions. The colors and fur are exactly like gerbils.
I've had a rabbit bigger than a chihuahua, and it learned where to poop fairly quickly. Smart animal, too.
I'm leaning towards a guinea pig - is it possible to have just one or is it really better to get two? Is two a lot more work than one? Do folks have any opinions on boy guinea pigs vs girl guinea pigs? (I know you dont want a mixed pair as they will proliferate like... rodents.)
I think you'll be fine with just one, but you'll miss out on them playing with one another. Yeah, there's a risk of guinea pig depression with just one, but if you give it toys and plenty of attention it should be fine.
Originally Posted by Sharpe
Still, if you're getting one you should seriously consider grabbing two. You get twice the fun with only slightly more work and expense. And, really, guinea pigs are so cute when they play together!
One thing to note: it/they will be seriously freaked out for the first couple of days. Just give em some treats -- they lust for hay -- and help them get used to things.
edit: And whatever you do don't let them out of the cage unless you're holding them tight or you have them in an enclosed area with no cover! The little tapirs can scamper faster than you would believe, and their freakish bodies are almost as deformable as silly putty! Seriously, we had to chase one for almost an hour as it ran between various unlikely hiding spots in a bedroom.
Last edited by Aeon221; 11-05-2008 at 06:30 PM.
If you get a hamster you should name him "Boo."
Consider a hedgehog? Quite the cute factor and unique too!
You'll likely have to pick one up from a breeder, but they arn't too expensive. >$100.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLMOw...eature=related Hedgehog care from an annoying teen, but still good advice.
Plenty of cute vids on youtube as well.
Last edited by Scrax; 11-05-2008 at 07:07 PM.
Rabbit owner here. Few things:
-Rabbits are not rodents, they are lagomorphs (the only other lagomorph is the pika).
-A rabbit that is properly adapted to their cage and allowed time to roam around outside it can very easily be litter trained.
-Rabbits are totally awesome when they play, they zig zag around like mad and do these sudden jumps in the air, it's pretty hilarious.
On the down side, they chew shit like mad, and some of them don't like to be picked up (although they all like to be pet).
Have you considered a sugar glider? this woman will convince you not to.
Go with your instincts and get two female guinea pigs. Great pets overall, very hobbit like, minus their abbreviated lives. Having two means more cleaning and supply refreshing, but that's not a big price to pay for their happiness (and for your potential entertainment). I've owned several of the above, but guineas are my favorite.
Do any of you guinea owners have a solution for the hut? We had started with a plastic hut but replaced it when we got worried about them chewing/ingesting the plastic. Switched to a grass woven hovel, which they managed to take down and consume within a week. Switched to a resin hut, but overlooked its grass roof and that too was consumed. Now I'm realizing that nothing they sell at pet stores is well suited to my guineas. They have two cardboard tubes at the moment, but they pretty much ignore these and still seem to prefer the roofless hut for the most part. You'd think the resin hut makers would make a resin roof, but no. The pet store guy tried, but was ultimately unhelpful with his elaborate solutions involving measurements, lumber stores and woodworking.
Last edited by barstein; 11-05-2008 at 07:38 PM.
World's End Supernova
People really have actual rats for pets? I mean not like gerbils which are kinda like desert rats, but actual, you know, rats? Unbelievable.
Yeah, rats are actually lots of fun, if you're into little critters at all. Very sweet pets. I owned several while growing up. The urine smell is a nuisance, though. If someone were to combine the best qualities of rats and guinea pigs, you'd have the perfect rodent pet in my opinion.
Rats are great, great pets. Really smart, they actually play with you, their cute, they talk to you, ride on your shouldar, etc and so forth.
Cons - Mine smelled fairly bad (male, might not be an issue with females). And they die fairly quickly. I've had two over my life and both died within two years, both grew a giant tumor.
*EDIT* Fun little story. I got my first rat for Christmas, a female albino. My sister stole the rat from her class Biology class. They were going to crack open my rat's skull to look at it's brain. Instead, my sister reached into the cage, grabbed my young rat, and smuggled it out with her purse.
No longer plays GeoSpark
One friend had a succession of rats. She loved 'em, although preferred females because males are just too smelly (plus their gigantic testicles are a bit of a distraction for all but the hardiest of visitors). Female rats are pretty darn cute, and very smart. Mind you, she also worked at a laboratory that did some pretty bizarre experiments with them, so I wasn't quite sure whether she was after redemption or something.
Another friend had a pair of ferrets. These things were truly awesome, despite (or rather because of) not being rodents. However, I became unfeasibly nervous every time one of them even ventured within 2 metres of my crotch due to cultural perception about ferrets going for the 'nads at every opportunity. I suspect that might have been Monty Python's fault.
Flood your home or apartment to meet the ultimate rodent pet/food.
Not only are they incredibly social and naturally tame but you will never have to smash through drywall to figure out where "that smell" is coming from.
They are the only "Watch Rodent" offering some home security. They are the only rodent you might consider eating just because they're tasty and not because your living in the End Times. They are considered "fish" during Lent by the Catholic Church which makes them doubly delicious and supposedly taste like pork which makes them a kind of perfect pet/food. I wonder what caybara bacon tastes like.
Unlike rats or gray squirrels, they aren't too cunning. Unlike the various rat-dog breeds you can't accidently step on them to death. Also, your girlfriend/wife/mother won't care if you do step on them to death...accidently. If only they were carnivorous so I could feed them some snakes.
Last edited by ScurvyPig; 11-05-2008 at 09:08 PM.
Reason: Had to login to fix a "p".
Words cannot describe how much I want a pet Capybara.
And rats do make really great pets, if you discount the odor, marking, and lifespan. Otherwise, they are extremely intelligent and affectionate, as others have mentioned. My first rat loved to ride around in the pocket of a large sweat shirt and would often sit on my head when I sat down to read. He also learned to come when I called him and go back to his enclosure when told.
I wasn't immediately aware of what a Capybara was. Had to google it to remind me.
Holy crap, those things grow to big the size of dogs.
I would get one to just freak out people on the street.
Rats smell. Your room will smell, and it's not a fun smell whatsoever. I don't think there's much in the way of social stigma once someone sees that your rat does not look anything whatsoever like a sewer rat, or what they see in the media.
I'm gonna throw another check into the "rabbit" section. Although not a rodent, they simply do not smell. There is an odor from the cage if it's uncleaned for several days, but even a filthy cage won't smell strongly from more than 5 feet away. It doesn't fill up a room with stench like a rat (or a ferret).
Rabbits aren't really trainable in any way other than being able to be litter trained to go in their cage. It took me a while to do that, but their urine also doesn't smell all that bad, and poop is in little pellets which can be properly picked up and not squished into rugs or carpets. They also have zero odor, although shed very very lightly.
The funnest part of a rabbit is watching it zip around. After hours in a cage it will most likely love to get out and bolt around, especially if you have stairs. My old rabbit (RIP) did a regular circuit up the stairs, then down the stairs and jumped up and off of the couch back. It's also not very hard to get out of crevices, as poking it in the butt will generally get it to run the other way. You would want to close all doors to areas where it could easily hide from you, though, and I blocked off rear of the entertainment center with books, as mine tended to chew on every cable it saw until it finally got shocked several times and stopped (at least I assume that's what happened).
Look at my dog! I named him Speak. My dog Speak can really speak. My dog is the best. I love my dog Speak.
Originally Posted by Scrax
Also, once you get tired of a rabbit you can always make a yummy stew.