Read Clarendon Street Vets’ advice before buying or adopting a small furry pet
June 21, 2022
When looking for a first pet for a child, many parents will automatically think, ‘small furry animal’. Whilst some small furries can be rewarding first pets, they also require a lot of dedication and commitment to make sure they are looked after appropriately. It is really important to remember that ultimately you will be responsible for the ongoing care, health and happiness of any pet. A younger family member may have a lot of initial enthusiasm and be very persuasive when it comes to buying or adopting a pet, but you may well end up doing a lot of the daily care and of course covering the costs!
Get Clarendon Street Veterinary Surgery’s advice on what to consider before buying a small mammal for your family.
Common small animals kept as pets include guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, mice, and rats. According to our Cambridge nursing team, they have many differences besides appearance, so it is crucial that you fully research the species and what their requirements are before committing. For example, guinea pigs are typically easier to handle and contain than rabbits, meaning they might make a better option for your child.
Other things that need to be considered include:
- Home setup – what do you need?
- Who is responsible for cleaning them out and feeding?
- Lifespan of the animal?
- Do they need a companion?
- Are they nocturnal?
- Do they hibernate?
Having a good understanding of the above questions means that choosing the most suitable pet should be easier. Read our helpful guide on the different types of small furries you can keep as pets – download our Small Furry Pet Stats here.
Home setup needed for small furry pets
Some small animals need to be kept outside in a hutch (that can be brought inside a shed or indoors in very cold weather and has shade from the sun), whilst some need to be kept indoors in a suitable cage. Either way, they will need decent-sized housing with room to grow, especially if they need a companion. Small furries also need items inside their housing for enrichment, such as toys, hideouts, exercise equipment, and things to gnaw. All species need cleaning out regularly, so estimating how long this will take and deciding who is responsible is very important.
Some small animals may only have a life expectancy of 1-2 years while others may live 10+ years. This may be a deciding factor when choosing your child’s pet, as it will give you an idea of the long-term commitment that you are making.
Regular health checks at our Cambridge vet practice will help our team to spot any problems that need addressing. Just like cats and dogs, each type of small furry pet comes with their own set of typical health problems you should make yourself aware of before buying one. For example, rabbits and guinea pigs can be prone to deadly flystrike if their housing is not kept clean while other small furries have a higher risk of respiratory issues and lumps. Lots of all furries will require some dental care at some point as their herbivorous diets requires their teeth to continue growing throughout their lifetime.
Small furry pet companions
When it comes to companionship, some small animals may be happy to live on their own whilst others need a companion to be happy and healthy. Same or opposite sex pairings and groups will depend on the species (and the individual animal), as not all will get along. If you are keeping a mixed pair, one or both will need neutering. We are very happy to advise on options and costs for neutering.
There are many places you can go to for advice on what small animal may suit your family most. These include speaking to your local veterinary practice, pet shops, reliable internet sources, and rescue centres. Doing the research at the beginning will make the whole process more rewarding and easier in the long run and ensure your pet is kept healthy and happy, and that the whole family can be involved in their care.
Did you know that some animal rescue centres also have small furry pets in need of a loving home?
Remember to check out our helpful Pet Stats to aid your decision making: