March 13, 2023 by Umair Shahid
Pockets pets are the cutest addition to your family if you’re fond of petting these little angels in your pockets.
There are numerous types of pocket pets, including guinea pigs, hamsters, hedgehogs, and chinchillas. In addition to them, you can also keep mice, rats, and sugar gliders and take care of them like they’re a part of the family.
These pint-size pocket pets require special care and attention when it comes to keeping them. These animals are very sensitive and you need to get the complete know-how about them to know if you’re ready to bring them home.
Maintaining their well-being and health is the domain you must focus on. As a veterinarian, I am here to help you decide if you have the optimum conditions for them. Not only do they require optimum conditions to live, but also need special dietary routines.
According to a recent survey, there are more than 4 million US homes that house pocket pets. They are becoming popular with dogs and cats as friendly and cute pets.
To ease your trouble researching, this article will help you in doing the homework before you plan to get pocket pets. These unique pets outlive the traditional domestic animals in terms of unique managemental practices and requirements.
Types of Pocket Pets & Their Requirements
There are many types of pet animals to cuddle them in your pets. However, you need to acknowledge each type of pocket pet and their living and dietary requirements. Let’s go through some of the common pocket pets that are keenly petted by many pet owners.
Small Rodents – Mice, Hamsters, & Gerbils
If you want an entertaining pocket pet, mice, gerbils, and hamsters are your go-to option. These pets have distinctive personalities and require special attention. If you have small children at your home, I won’t recommend keeping them.
Hamsters have quite moody and aggressive behavior in many situations, whereas mice and gerbils have a friendly nature. They love getting the owner’s attention and cuddles. But keeping all of them in a single place is what you must refrain from.
Mice and gerbils can even be placed in a single cage and they can live happily, but that’s certainly not the case with hamsters. Hamsters like to live alone or with other members of the same species. If placed together with mice, they really won’t tolerate them in their territory.
Although many of these small rodents are usually housed in wire cages with narrow mesh underneath, they love climbing. If you are planning to keep them, buy a cage or accessories that provide them with ample climbing surfaces.
As a veterinarian, I recommend you add some highly soft and absorbent litter or bedding material. Veterinary experts advise pet owners not to use aromatic litter, as it may lead to irritation in their sensitive respiratory systems.
In terms of dietary requirements, many pet stores have commercially available pellets. These pellets are formulated according to the given animal’s requirements and contain a balanced amount of nutrients.
These small rodents have fast-grown front teeth that continue to grow throughout their life. You need to make sure the chewing toys and plenty of dried hay are available to maintain their dental hygiene. Avoid all types of high-sugar and caloric foods such as seeds to protect their sensitive digestive tract.
Rats As Pocket Pets
Rats are very docile animals to keep as pets due to their friendly nature and rarely biting behavior. I recommend taking them as your new pocket pets due to their innocent nature, even if you have a family with children.
It is noteworthy that rats are colonial rodents and they must be placed with other cage mates. If you’re planning to house them, buy or adopt at least two of them for giving a quality company in your absence.
Rats also require a lot of playfulness and physical activity to maintain their ideal health. There are many commercially available toys and wheels offered by pet stores that you must buy in order to maintain your physical health.
Rats are the most loving pocket pets that require comfortable and cozy places to nap and rest. If you want to keep them in cages, make sure there is plenty of soft fleece or bedding material available.
You can also use a nesting box or prepare one using DIY methods and place it inside the cage of your rats. Make sure to increase the cage décor using a fleece hammock hung from the roof of the cage for a cozier place to climb and sleep on.
Just like hamsters and gerbils, rats also require specially formulated diets that not only fulfill their nutritional requirements but also provide dental care. In that respect, commercially available pellets are what I recommend to you as a veterinarian.
One thing I can suggest you is to place a wooden block inside the rat’s cage. Make sure the wooden block is not made from industrially treated wood. Your rat can effectively use it for playing and as a great addition to his dental health maintenance.
The Wonderful Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are housed by many pet owners and there are the most popular pocket pets nowadays. These tiny social cuties don’t require much care and can easily live in ordinary housing setups.
They have a very docile and loving temperament and are fun to play and cuddle with. Make sure you provide them with ample socialization and time. If you’re a busy person who doesn’t have enough time, getting a guinea pig pair is not a bad option, in my opinion.
A well-ventilated narrow-wired cage is the best option for housing guinea pigs. The narrow bottom wire helps them to provide a comfortable place for walking without the danger of slippage. Moreover, provide a fleece or soft bedding material for extra comfort and rest inside the cage.
You can also use towels or wood shavings, but fleece is a much better and more reliable option. The wood shavings need to be changed after some time, which is itself a cumbersome process. Proving a good quality fleece can save you a lot of money in this regard.
For guinea pigs, an optimum species-specific diet must be bought or made for their ideal health. The Timothy grass and good-quality hay are other fruitful options. These small animals can easily get irritable bowls and disturbed stomachs.
A guinea pig should also be fed foods that are rich in vitamin C for their fur and skin health. The reason is that they can easily get prone to ascorbic acid deficiency.
There are many foods, including parsley and peppers, that can cover their vitamin and mineral requirements.
Chinchillas as Pocket Pets
Chinchillas belong to the Rocky Mountains of South America and are very docile and shy animals. These small cuties are naturally nocturnal with the peak activity period in the evening and night times.
You can house a chinchilla alone or with another cage mate according to your ease. If you’re planning to keep him in a pair, make sure to get with similar genders to avoid unintentional breeding and having kits.
Chinchillas have long legs and love to climb, that’s why you must provide them with a cage that is longer than wider in appearance. Make or attach the available climbing perches and supplement their comfort by adding a hammock to the cage.
In addition to this, chinchillas don’t need water baths to clean themselves. They possess the thickest fur that can easily trap moisture and cause skin problems. To cover their grooming and bathing needs, providing them with a clean dust bath is all they desire.
Chinchillas do need to maintain their oral and digestive health using high-fiber diets. I don’t recommend you feed your chinchillas high-sugar and fatty foods, as they can easily lead to watery diarrhea and digestive issues.
To cover their dietary needs, using the commercially available chinchilla pellets coupled with good quality hay is a go-to option.
Hedgehogs & Sugar Gliders
Hedgehogs are similar to rodents that are shy and avoid human interactions. They are natural burrowers and love to hide inside the bedding. Sugar Gliders, on the other hand, belong to marsupials and are very socially active pocket pets.
Just like other rodents, you’ll need a pretty large size cage to accommodate a hedgehog. You can use paper bedding to provide them with a comfortable place to rest and sleep. They have large spines on the entire body, which makes them difficult to handle and groom.
Sugar gliders are quite social and as a vet, I recommend you house them with other sugar gliders. These small marsupials can easily get depressed alone and they need a considerable amount of attention and care for maintaining their health.
Talking about hedgehogs, they are insectivore-omnivore animals and prefer to eat mealworms and crickets. If you don’t want to add these insects to their diet, contact your neared pet store to get some insect-based pellets for your hedgehogs.
Sugar Gliders have also belonged to the insectivorous omnivores and they can live on the same food used by hedgehogs. Avoid giving them any kind of sugary treats, as this will be a disaster for the sensitive stomach of these delicate pocket pets.
Pocket pets are loved by many people around the globe and are currently becoming the attraction of every pet lover. If you’re someone planning to get one, make sure to follow the recommended guidelines regarding their housing, management, & feeding needs.
By following the proper protocols, your pocket pets can have the healthy and playful life they have always dreamed of. In case of any emergency or unresponsive conditions, call the nearest exotic animal veterinarian immediately and get your pocket pets thoroughly examined & treated.
I am a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and have a keen interest in animal health care. Working as a veterinary content writer, I intend to stay with professional approach in producing quality content. I like research-based reading and currently seeking my veterinary profession. My hobbies are travelling to exotic places and observing nature to the fullest.