If you’re not sure that your family is ready for a dog or a cat, you may want to start ‘small’ with a guinea pig, hamster, rabbit, or other small pet. Small animals make great companions for both children and adults.
While it may seem that small animals are easier to care for than dogs or cats, small animals still require daily care.
It’s important that your small animal gets used to you and other members of the household after bringing them home. They should also become accustomed to being handled. If your child is going to be the ‘primary’ caregiver, ensure that they are involved with caring for the pet right from the beginning.
Feeding your new pet a small treat is a great way to have them warm up to you. When they’re comfortable with that, you can carefully pick them up with one hand supporting their bottom and the other over their back. Hold him or her for a short period at first, and then gradually increase your time holding them.
Teach your child to be very gentle with their new pet.
We often overlook the importance of providing daily activity for small animals – guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and rabbits – because they seem to enjoy the comfort of their cages. They need companionship and activity for their overall health and wellbeing too! If you have multiple small animals, they might even enjoy playing together.
All small animals should partake in both physical and mental exercises every day. Most of the activities will relate to their burrowing and chewing instincts. Some equipment may help with daily activity, such as a running wheel. For hamsters, a wheel or saucer is important for exercise because they typically run a distance of about twelve kilometers per night.
TIP: Make sure an exercise wheel or ball is appropriate for your type of pet to prevent any injuries.