Good Rodent Pets for Children

If you’d like your child to learn about pet ownership, but you aren’t ready to introduce a cat or dog to your home, consider a rodent “pocket pet.” These little guys live in their own enclosures, and they each have different care and socialization needs. Your Livonia veterinarian can visit with you and your child, and talk about meeting your little rodent’s care requirements. When your little pet arrives, your vet will give him a complete physical exam to ensure he’s in good health.



Hamsters adapt well to a wire cage with a solid-material floor, and they appreciate shredded paper or tissue bedding. When your hamster’s not eating, he’ll spin on his hamster wheel or run through his exercise tubes. Because hamsters tend to stay up most of the night, they’re not good pets for very young children, who should be getting a good night’s sleep each night. Kids eight and older will likely enjoy hamsters’ companionship.


Pet Rats

Rats require a spacious cage with feeding, nesting, and exercise areas. A glass aquarium with a mesh top allows for ideal ventilation and easy cleaning. Use rat litter or a shavings mix for bedding; however, don’t use cedar as it can contain toxic oils. Add an exercise wheel, ladder, and tubes to keep your rat in tip-top shape. Rats aren’t recommended for younger children, as young kids don’t understand that they can’t squeeze or drop their little pet. If the rat gets agitated enough, he might even bite the child out of fear. Also, youngsters’ still-evolving immune systems might not be able to handle some zoonotic diseases that rats transmit to humans.


Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are like the giants of the rodent world, weighing as much as three pounds. Since they’re larger than other pet rodents, they’ll need more living space, and also need a large, secure exercise enclosure. Guinea pigs thrive on exercise, but don’t buy them an exercise wheel, as it can do damage to their legs and back. Because guinea pigs are large enough to be handled by children of any age (under supervision), they make wonderful first pets.


If you suffer from dog or cat allergies, are pregnant or have a compromised immune system, ask your physician about owning a pet rodent before bringing one home. Once you get the go-ahead, your Livonia vet can help give your new pet a healthy start.

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