Love the thought of a pet but can't accommodate a cat or dog? Try one of these three furry and adorable animals instead.

By Karen Asp
March 21, 2019
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Smaller pets can be great if your family isn't quite ready for the commitment of a larger pet like a dog or cat. Dogs and cats can take a lot more training (and a lot more money) than some smaller, and more easily manageable pets. But, with any pet there are certain things to consider before taking on the responsibility. We've outlined why these three small companions make good pets, along with everything to consider when choosing which pet is right for you and your family.

Image courtesy of Getty.

Rabbits

Domesticated bunnies are smart, affectionate and social. They crave daily interaction with their pet parents all through their lives—more than 10 years with proper care—says Dawn Burch, director of animal care, education and compliance for Petco. You can even teach your rabbit to walk on a leash using a small-animal harness.

Considerations

  • Space Needs: One consideration for this particular pet is space, bunnies need room to hop around. A pen about four times your rabbit's size will keep them out of trouble and protect your possessions from potential chewing.
  • Chewing Habits: Speaking of chewing, chew toys are very important for bunnies. Their teeth never stop growing, so provide constant access to chew sticks, mineral chews, or long-term hay to maintain their teeth.
  • Feeding: You may already know that your rabbit loves carrots and clover, but did you know that they shouldn't eat alfalfa? Stick to quality pellets along with hay and green leafy vegetables.
  • Grooming: Rabbits keep themselves clean but will need regular brushing and monthly nail trims, so it's important to keep grooming in mind with your pet bunny.
Image courtesy of Getty.

Hamsters

These make good pets because they're captivating, social and very active: The stereotype of a hamster running laps in a wheel or plastic ball is true. See how much by putting their energy to use in an exercise wheel, then having a little cuddle before bed.

Considerations

  • Lifespan: Before you purchase your new household critter, you may want to take into account how long it will be around for. On average, hamsters only live two to three years.
  • Socialization: Hamsters are easy to handle once socialized, but they can nip if startled so they may not be the right fit for young kids.
  • Cleanup: Investing in a critter potty will help keep their cage clean, which is important to consider with hamsters because they're known to choose a favorite spot to go to the bathroom—and because you're the one that has to clean it up.
Image courtesy of Getty.

Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs love good quality time with their pet parent (or another guinea pig of the same gender) and will come out to greet you when you approach their habitat. "They'll often do a popcorn jump, which means they're super happy," Burch says.

Considerations

  • Handling: "Guinea pigs can be jumpy and dropped easily," says Jill M. Patt, D.V.M., founder of Little Critter Veterinary Hospital in Gilbert, AZ. Because of this, you'll want to think about the handling of this pet, and potentially who in the family should be handling them.
  • Feeding: You'll have to monitor their eating and pooping to spot any tummy upset because they're not able to vomit. And because they can't make their own vitamin C, you'll need to give them C infused food, treats and a daily C supplement.
  • Grooming: To help keep teeth from getting too long, guinea pigs need chew sticks or mineral chews, similarly to rabbits. They also need regular brushing and monthly nail clipping.

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