8 small rodents that make great pets (with photos)

8 small rodents that make great pets (with photos)

  Small rodents can make great pets because they are easy to care for, friendly, easy to tame, and in general, they enjoy interacting with humans. This is an especially good option for children, who need minimal care, space, and housing. Small rodents, often referred to as "pocket pets," also have a relatively short life span and therefore do not require a large investment.

  While their small size and cage life may seem like an easier option for pets, they still need daily care and attention to stay happy and healthy. This is a great option for children because it is a great opportunity to teach them responsibility.

  If you’re looking for a small, low-maintenance rodent pet to add to your family, check out this list of small rodents and eight of the most popular options.


  Often referred to as the "miniature squirrel," the African Dormouse shares many characteristics with mice and squirrels. Native to a variety of habitats in southern Africa, these small rodents are extremely agile climbers. They are known for being agile, active, and fast, making them difficult for inexperienced owners to handle. They need a large enclosure with plenty of room to climb and usually live up to six years in captivity.

  They are nocturnal rodents and therefore more active in the early morning and sensitive to light, so they need to be kept away from large Windows or bright lights. African Dormice are highly social animals that need to live in groups, at least in pairs.

  Chinchillas are native to South America and can live up to 15 years in captivity. They are a popular choice for small rodent pets because they are easy to tame and lively. They are nocturnal, so should only be handled early in the morning or late in the evening, and need to cover up any bright light sources during the day. They are an active animal and need a large enclosure to run in, as well as regular interaction with their owners.

  Chinos are known for their luxurious fur, large, round ears, and long, fluffy tail. They are a favorite pet for children, but their active and agile nature can be difficult for younger children to deal with.

  The common Dracut is native to Chile and is a close relative of guinea pigs and chinchilla. Until recently, the tiny rodents were rarely seen in pet stores, but they have slowly gained popularity as pocket pets. Even so, in some parts of the country, including California and Utah, Dracoods are considered an invasive species and it is illegal to keep them as pets.

  Due to their friendly personality, their daily habits (waking during the day and sleeping at night), and their ease of training, they are becoming increasingly popular as pets. Ideally, they should be kept in pairs or more, and with proper care, they can live in captivity for 5-8 years.

  See also: 10 of the world’s largest rodents (with photos)

Common mice are one of the most overlooked small rodent pets, but they are actually easy to care for and very docile. They are typically calm, easy to care for rodents that like to be handled and do not bite or bite easily. The mouse is a unique rodent, you can quickly establish close contact with them. They are very intelligent and can learn tricks and navigate mazes and puzzles with ease. Most pet rats are a species called Norwegian rats, also known as brown rats or street rats.

  Rats are social animals, best kept in pairs or groups, and are nocturnal and therefore more active at night. That said, females go into heat once a week after puberty, which makes these rodents reproduce very fast. They are short-lived animals, typically living only 18-36 months.

  See also: How do I choose the right cage size for a pet rat

Gerbils are a popular rodent pet, especially among children, because they are easy to care for and don’t require much human interaction. Having said that, they are social animals and are not suited to living alone and are best kept in pairs or groups. They have a fairly short life span of about 2 years and do not require a large investment of time as pets. They are active animals and need a large cage to run in, preferably with a wheel to keep them healthy, and while they are usually good to handle, their active nature can make it difficult for smaller children to hold them.

  Gerbils are a great rodent pet choice because they are easy to care for, curious, friendly animals that will provide you with hours of entertainment.

  Related reading:

  Gerbils vs hamsters: Which pet should you get?
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Guinea pigs, which are native to South America, are another popular rodent pet. They are an excellent choice for small pets because they are healthy, hardy, and easy to care for, and each Guinean has a different personality that makes each Guinean unique: some Guineans are shy and withdrawn, while others are dominant and outgoing. One of the unique things about Kinia cats is that they purr like cats when they are happy, among other cute sounds.

  Guinea rats are highly social rodents and are much happier when living with other Guinea rats. They are also fairly active animals and need a large cage with plenty of room to run to stay happy, fit and healthy. Guinea rats live longer than other similar rodents, up to seven years.

  Hamsters are a classic small pet and a popular choice for toddlers. This is because they are easy to care for and train. Hamsters, however, are notoriously callous, and female hamsters in particular are sometimes prone to biting. There are several different breeds of hamsters – 19 in all – and some are small, like the dwarf hamster, while species like the Syrian hamster are quite large. You need to house the species accordingly and provide them with plenty of space, exercise wheels, and chew toys.

  Hamsters typically live around 3 years in captivity, while most hamsters, such as dwarf hamsters, are social and prefer the company of other hamsters, but some, such as Syrian hamsters, prefer to live alone.

  Last but not least is the common mouse, a cute and highly entertaining pocket pet. They are easy to care for, but not as easy to handle as large rodents like mice because they are fairly skittish. Domestic mice kept as pets are often called fancy mice, and they are often selectively bred based on color and size. They vary widely in size, from as small as 7 inches to as large as 12 inches.

  A healthy captive mouse can easily live up to 30 months, but they usually live 18-24 months. They are nocturnal, predominantly nocturnal, and although they are social animals, they can also live alone, especially males.

  Related reading:

  Hamsters and mice: What kind of pet should you get? (Photos are available)
What do rats eat in the wild and as pets?