Choosing a Small Pet

November 7, 2004

A pet rat in a cage.Here are my experiences of the little fuzzy wuzzies people usually give children for Christmas, and how to avoid making a mistake this year.



Little hamsters such as teddy bear or regular hamsters are notoriously grudge-buggies, and have a chip on their shoulder. Just think of a Chihuahua and you have their personality. They do not like being woke up for any reason and will readily bite anyone for any reason. They are good to have if all the child wants is to watch and enjoy through the cage.

The good news is they are great fun to watch and easy to care for. They are not the cuddle-bug type of pet. They just don't like this, and will let you know without hesitation.

Guinea Pigs:

Guinea Pigs are great. Not very likely to bite, they are so accepting of almost anything. They are quite messy and not a day goes by when there will not be water tipped over in the cage, they are great water lovers, and love to play, tip, suck out of the bottle, blow out of the bottle, squeak at everyone going past and jump and generally make a mess. I like using newspaper shredded by hand for a littler. I have to change it too much to buy cedar, but I have before. They are friendly and will get to like being held if fed, when held, a trea, such as lettuce or any kind of vegetable they like.

This is my favorite animal to have as far as the fuzzy wuzzies go. Great to hold but not demanding other then cleaning out their litter everyday.


Rats make good pets if handled gently. Make sure it will let you hold it before you buy it. They are smart and interact and want to go everywhere with you on your shoulder. They will eat anything you give them, and like to eat your dinner scraps. They are great pets, I would say to get one, but I used to raise them and sell them back to the store, etc. I like rats and if you have time to spend playing and petting and giving them toys to jump on and around in their cage they will be happy. They live about 2 or three years at the most, they are great!

They usually have to be put to sleep by a vet when they are old due to brain tumors they all get regardless of diet, which is why they don't make good subjects for controlled studies, but that is just my experience with all my rats. Each of them have a special place in my heart.


I never was successful at housetraining a ferret, and one of my carpets was ruined where they peed, but I loved them nevertheless!

Sometimes these animals are the most fun and then other times they are nothing but troublemakers, but they are worth it. Mine were always escaping into the neighbors garage every time the house door alarm went off. I should have had a gate for them. They chew a lot and bite hard at first until you teach them not too. They are never ending players, and they provide a lot of entertainment. They go to sleep when held by the scruff, any vet treatment needs a cooling off period to make sure they are not reacting to vaccination in a bad way.

I would say they are high maintenance because of their behavior and need for exercise and their intelligence.

I loved having mine though!


Chinchillas are not really interactive and more of a "watch me" pet than anything else. Mainly for people who are rewarded by just watching an animal and not really interacting with it. I would say this is a bad choice for a child.


Gerbils are good pets, but more of a "watch me" pet then a cuddly pet.


These make good pets, they don't stink and they use the bathroom in one spot and I had one I let run loose in the house. Where he chose to go I put papers down and he began to use the same spot. Rabbits will sit in your lap, but make sure and hold it to see if it will let you hold it for a reasonable amount of time. If it doesn't like being held, don't buy it.

Mice: Too small and not interactive and too smelly.

This ends my 411 on little animals. These are the ones I recommend for kids:

Guinea Pigs

Rats, Japanese Hooded Rats from the pet store

Hope you have a great Christmas!

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

November 13, 2011

I was wondering which is better a rat or mouse for a pet? I really love rats a lot, but I also like mice. I need to know which requires more care and which is smarter and friendlier. Any thoughts?

By Sarah


November 14, 20110 found this helpful

Believe it or not, mice are kind of delicate. I'd go with the rat. My nephew had a pet rat and she was just the nicest, sweetest little pet.


We called her the "not-rat" and "very large mouse" because of the negative connotations of the word "rat".

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 846 Posts
November 14, 20110 found this helpful

By far a rat is the better of the two! Rats are extremely loving, bond well to their owner and are much smarter than most people give them credit for. I had a pet rat once named Yodi and he was such a lover! He would cuddle in my lap and come to me simply by calling him by name.

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November 14, 20110 found this helpful

The little rat would be my choice. My sister had a pet rat and he was the greatest pet.

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November 14, 20110 found this helpful

I have had both, the mice were cute, but very hyper. They wanted to run around instead of being held. The rats were calmer and liked to ride on my shoulder, they both make great pets.

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November 14, 20110 found this helpful

I have had several rats and they were the best. I loved them all. Consider buying your rat from a breeder, not a pet store. Pet store rats are not carefully bred and often have a type of pneumonia that cant be cured. It really shortens their lives. You can find local breeders on the internet.

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