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AIBU to consider small pet for DD? Hamster? Gerbil? Guinea Pig? Help and Advice Needed!

(103 Posts)
cingolimama Tue 04-Mar-14 12:58:33

Hello all you wonderful MN people. I need advice! My DD desperately wants a small pet - well, she really wants a dog, but we can't have one. DD (8) has had some practise taking care of a hamster of a friend at holidays, and has proved herself gentle and very responsible.

I'm not really keen on the idea of an animal in a cage, and really not keen in a smelly one. But on the other hand, it would be lovely for my daughter, so would put up with it.

Not sure which among gerbil, guinea pig, hamster etc. Rats are supposed to be nice pets, but they freak me out a bit (maybe I'd get over this?). Any experiences you'd like to share, I'd be very grateful to hear.

mummyofteens Tue 04-Mar-14 13:03:46

We have had several rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters. In my experience, guinea pigs tend to be calmer, easier to handle and a more engaging pet. Hamsters are fab once they get used to being handled and they are kept inside so the kids see much more of them. i have found rabbits to be quite jumpy and nervous but they are v cute smile This is just my experience and i am sure others will be along to offer their opinion smile

whereisshe Tue 04-Mar-14 13:04:03

Guinea pigs are lovely, females are a bit less stinky than males. They have distinct little personalities which is nice. If you clean then very regularly and bathe them they smell less. Also that urine off product helps.

Rats are more intelligent than guinea pigs (and therefore better at escaping), and happier to be solitary. If you have any animal dander allergies in the family rats are more likely to trigger it than guinea pigs. Pet rats are nothing like gross sewer rats, they're cute.

Of the two I'd choose a rat. No experience of gerbils or hamsters. I did have pet mice as a child - they're boring.

BadztMaru Tue 04-Mar-14 13:04:25

We have guinea pigs , they're inside at the moment but will be back out again when the weather gets warmer. They aren't smelly, I clean the cage twice a week. They're great little characters and the children love giving them a fuss.
Although my brother has rats and they're fab, although they do seem to smell. They're really friendly and great for the children to hold, very intelligent and entertaining.
The hamster, although super cute, wasn't as much fun due to not wanting to be active during the day.

BadztMaru Tue 04-Mar-14 13:04:45

We also had a rabbit but she was v v high maintenance

Twinkletron Tue 04-Mar-14 13:05:44

Rats are brilliant pets!!! We had them as kids and I also got two in my 20's. You can take them out and interact with them much more than a hamster or gerbil and I have never been bitten by one whereas I know many that have been bitten by hamster/gerbils. We used to have them running around the front room and you could call them and they would come. We set up assault courses and get them to do tricks. My dad always said they were vermin and not allowed in the house (he was a farmer!) but my mum overrode that! Lol we used to catch him feeding cream crackers to the rats on his shoulders each evening but would still protest that he hated them!

WorrySighWorrySigh Tue 04-Mar-14 13:07:59

We had gerbils, not smelly at all as they are very dry creatures. We kept them in an old fish tank as they gnaw everything and also spend a lot of time reorganising their sawdust!

They arent nocturnal but generally are 2 hours on/2 hours off.

KiwiBanana Tue 04-Mar-14 13:10:21

If you're not keen on a caged animal then what about a cat? They're dead easy to care for and are very loving.
Rescue shelters always have some ready for homing.

Otherwise out of your list I would choose rats. They're also loving, very intelligent and make great pets. They do smell if not cleaned regularly though.

SlowlorisIncognito Tue 04-Mar-14 13:14:06

I think rats are good, as they are very easy to tame and that bit bigger so a bit easier for a child to handle. However, you would need to commit to having at least 2 as they are social animals. However, hamsters can be fun too, and if that is what you would rather have, then go for it.

Rabbits and guinea pigs are a much longer commitment. Rabbits can live for up to 10 years- is she as likely to be interested when she is 18?

Whatever you chose, it would be best to research the pet fully and buy from a reputable breeder- the young will have been well handled and be tamer, and pets from pet shops are more likely to have infectious diseases.

However, as your daughter is only 8, you or another adult needs to take ultimate responsibility for the pet. If you aren't willing to help her clean it out, and make sure it's fed and watered and taken to the vet when needed, then don't commit.

NoraRobertsismyguiltypleasure Tue 04-Mar-14 13:14:43

Guinea pigs are lovely - quite easy to tame, but do require the most space. I wouldn't bother with rabbits, they're quite hard to tame and need a lot of space.
Hamsters are good, but are nocturnal, so often asleep when you want to cuddle. Gerbils are fun.
Never had rats.

5Foot5 Tue 04-Mar-14 13:15:14

Oh guinea pigs are lovely. They are very easy to handle and very placid and can also be really talkative. Ours lived inside for 7 - 8 months of the year and then outside in the summer. They never smelled but admittedly we did clean them out quite regularly.

I would be cautious about getting a long-haired guinea pig though as they are slightly more high maintenance than the short haired variety.

SnowieBear Tue 04-Mar-14 13:17:10

If you think rats would freak you out a bit, how about mice? We have had mice for a year now, and they are adorable and very friendly.

Fancy mice are good at being handled (my DS is nearly 8 now) and love playing - they are not food-motivated, the thing with them is to provide them with stimulating things to do, they are very clever!

DS adores them, they have their little personalities and love to explore up his sleeves or curl up "nesting" in his hair for a while. Boys are smellier than girls, as it normally the case - if you get mice, do get a pair of females, males can sometimes fight and although there are ways of managing that, you could do without having to make yourself an expert in all things mice.

Samu2 Tue 04-Mar-14 13:18:10

Rats! you can not go wrong with them, just try to get one from a breeder so they are used to being handled.

I have some and they are SO loving, like little palm puppies.

Samu2 Tue 04-Mar-14 13:19:09

Oh and rats do not like being on there own. You need two at least to keep them happy.

They are very sociable.

pixiepotter Tue 04-Mar-14 13:19:56

Guinea pigs I think are the best for little children like your DD.They don't bite and are not as fearful as the other pets.

Samu2 Tue 04-Mar-14 13:20:31

Their not there.

gordyslovesheep Tue 04-Mar-14 13:23:43

Guineas are lovely - ours live in a big cage in the shed and come in for cuddles and plays - they are great pets

gordyslovesheep Tue 04-Mar-14 13:24:23

I would add though that you would need 2 - they get sad on their own

Crowler Tue 04-Mar-14 13:24:23

We have a free-range tortoise in our kitchen. His poo/pee is fairly minimal.

AllergyMums Tue 04-Mar-14 13:26:30

We've three gerbils. Very sweet. They do kick their pooh everywhere tho' and the sawdust comes flying out of the cage and gets all over the place
Easy to keep but be careful - they chew everything so don't let them escape.
{wanders off to have a cuddle...}

canyou Tue 04-Mar-14 13:27:28

NO NO NO NO NO to hamster. -although DS made a fortune selling the baby prawns --envy
they also bite and like a clean cage so throw all their dirt out of the cage -- they produce a huge amount of poo-- and a bite from bad tempered Mre Hamster leaves a scar and require A&E treatmenthmm
Guinea Pigs look cute

Binkyridesagain Tue 04-Mar-14 13:30:17

Giant African Land Snail. We have one, it arrived looking like and the size of a piece of snot, 2 years later its about 6 cm long, there's no chance of it escaping and running under the floor boards never to be seen again. No special food s needed it eats salad. You have to make sure that its environment is kept moist and warm. If she is a little neglectful and forgets to feed/water it, it will go into hibernation, a little water revives it.

They're not very cuddly though.

Tinpin Tue 04-Mar-14 13:32:17

Another vote for guinea pigs. Ours live in the garden in all weathers. They are easy to handle and have very different personalities. If you decide to breed them ,the babies are adorable -miniature tiny adults right from the start. With our children almost left home now, the two at the bottom of the garden will be our last I think, but I will miss them!

teenagetantrums Tue 04-Mar-14 13:34:30

We have had gerbils and hamster, gerbils are great, we got two sisters, they were very tame, we kept them on a tank, they were happy being held they love to escape, they can jump, but were always caught (although once in the mouth my friends dog, the dog just stood there didn't know what to do once he had caught it). Hamsters and rabbits are not really great pets for kids.

bluebell8782 Tue 04-Mar-14 13:37:59

Definitely get a couple of rats! Boys are a bit more cuddlier than girls but do tend to scent more. You just have to make sure you clean them regularly and they'll be fine.

They are very sociable, clever can be litter trained and mine come to call. I love my babies..so soft and friendly.

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