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Small pet for first timers.

(24 Posts)
HexBramble Sun 28-Dec-14 08:57:04

Advice needed please - DD is desperate for a small pet, either a gerbil, mouse, hamster, or rat. Ive looked at cages and don't really know where to start. Advice please!

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sun 28-Dec-14 09:20:42

Hi Hex

How old is your DD and how much work are you prepared to do? Because you will be doing it. It is not fair to expect a child under the age of (off the top of my head , 14) to be in sole care of an animal.
My DD is 12.6 and we share the guineas but she couldn't do it all herself.

How much space do you have for a cage.
Where will it be kept (not bedrooms, my DD slept in the GPs room, the blighters kept her awake grin )

Are you looking for a singleton (out of your list , that's only hamsters, most rodents and rabbits need company of their own kind)
And the can often be mis-sexed or already pg (I've had both)

And - some are a bit bitey.
How long do they live for?
Where will they go when you're on holiday?
Is your DD allergic to anything?

I've kept mice but they aren't ideal for small children.
And I have guinea-pigs (but they aren't on your list so I guess you don't want piggies). Guineas aren't really small in terms of the space they need.

Annarose2014 Sun 28-Dec-14 09:32:19

Hamsters are nocturnal. You can hear them all night running on their bloody wheel. So not as much fun during the day as you might think.

Does it have to be something fluffy? Cos if not, get a budgie. They're entertaining, can perch on your finger and bond quite well. You can leave the door of the cage open and they'll climb up on top of the cage & interact with everyone. They're easy to clean and quiet at night.

Only thing is you have to buy them young so they last a good 7/8 years, and most pet shops have geriatrics who'll keel over within a year. The bit above their beak changes colour at 6 months, so if you're clever you search for one with the <6 months colouring.

HexBramble Sun 28-Dec-14 09:40:11

DD is 9 but I'm prepared to be hands on.
We have a play room so at least sleep wont be disturbed, but DD has it in her head that she wants a mouse.
We have friends that would look after pet when we are away.

HexBramble Sun 28-Dec-14 09:42:20

I've been looking at little homes, qu ite fancy this one?

Madratlady Sun 28-Dec-14 09:53:39

Hamsters and mice needs more space than you might think, those cages ate more for the owner tbh, they don't leave much space for the pet to be active and they are a pain to clean. Wire cages are good because they can climb, get one with plenty of floor space.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sun 28-Dec-14 10:36:00

I've had pet mice (so I'll throw in my fourpence ha'penny worth wink )

The males stink like you wouldn't believe. And the ones I had were fighty blighters.

Females much nicer......but one was already pg (I've had already pg guinea-pig too though)

They are very,very quick.
Ours had a three storey Mouse House (my Dad made from a huge old cupboard with wire mesh on the front). It had ladders between the levels. They climbed the wire mesh.

They escape with the blink of an eye

They pooh and pee with abandon (guineas pooh too but give warning when they want to pee)

And sadly, they can develop tumours and lumps, and there is very little that a vet can do.
You would need to find a vet that specialises in small rodents.

And like most small furries, they need company.

The house you've linked to- okay to play in but not for living in. They need ventilation and somewhere to hide away.

JavelinArse Sun 28-Dec-14 10:51:04

We have got rats.now and have had mice in the past. My eldest wanted a pet of his own so we went for rats this time.

Rats are great because they are really clever, can be taught to do little tricks which can be fun if your daughter wants to teach them.

Mice always seemed to have less personality to me (as much as I loved keeping them as pets! plus they are unable to control when they urinate/defecate (unlike rats who can be litter trained), mice are lovely but I think rats are more interactive.

Male rats can be quite smelly, I had ours.neutered recently (£60 per rat shockshock) but it has definitely helped to reduce the stinkiness!

Oh and rats need quite large cages which are more expensive than standard hamster set up, we got an £80 Ferplast one for our two rats.

Rats are great pets but be prepared for lots of shock faces when.you tell people you have them as pets hmm

EatShitDerek Sun 28-Dec-14 10:51:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HexBramble Sun 28-Dec-14 13:11:44

Derek, I actually thought about that (think I posted a thread) but was put off by the disposal methods of eggs (50 every 3 days?!).

EatShitDerek Sun 28-Dec-14 18:47:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PixieofCatan Sun 28-Dec-14 23:47:02

DP and I have rats, 6 of them in three cages (two boys, three girls and a lone boy). I'd say that they make fantastic pets for children, especially when got from a family friendly breeder (can recommend an NFRS one in Brighton! It's well worth travelling to get them from a good breeder IMO)

They need very big cages though. And they really shouldn't be lone pets, they need company of their own kind. You get the rare one who can't integrate with it's own kind, but they really are rare and require a lot of time and attention from their human.

We have this cage for our pair and trio:
www.littlepetwarehouse.co.uk/hamberley-single-metal-large-cage-p-12607.html

Rats need height to climb so aviaries are quite good and a cheaper option than specialist cages. We needed all metal as our girls chewed through plastic bases, so we got the hamberley for our girls and liked it so much we got it for our boys too grin

Rats are lovely pets, and, IMO, very good for children. Well bred rats don't tend to bite, they'll nip at first a bit like a toddler would use their mouths to explore things, so it's worth knowing so that you're prepared, but they don't nip hard and if it's too hard for you you can 'train' them not to do it too hard. One of our 5mo girls still nips when she wants to play chase with you, it's quite sweet actually!

You need a good vet though, rats are prone to respiratory infections and a standard vet won't always pick up on it. We visit the vet about once a month, usually with one of our boys who has bad lungs so constantly has respiratory infections! We see a rodentologist and I cannot fault her., it costs us just under £30 a trip for the consultation and medication. OPs usually cost under £100 at our practice for rats, though it varies. Our two young girls were spayed and that was £60 each, when Howl had his eye out it was around £100 IIRC and that included an emergency vet visit.

Rats are lovely though, all of ours have different personalities and even our rescue who died of a tumour in August and was utterly terrified of being out of the cage (and us at first) was lovely and rewarding!

notonyourninny Sun 28-Dec-14 23:55:05

Guineas are lovely. I think 10 is a goid age to start doing most care for a pet. Still working on dd2wink

HexBramble Mon 29-Dec-14 17:23:25

Pixie - lovely info. Your rats sound gorgeous! I'm happy for 2 - need to work on DH though.

Are males smellier than females? Are they cleverer?
Thanks.

PixieofCatan Mon 29-Dec-14 18:58:02

Males are smellier, but it's not really that different IMO. I find that the two boys will get smellier than the girls would by the end of the week, we've left the girls for nine days without a full clean (pick ups and generl tidy between) and they've been fine, but it's not that bad.

Neither sex is more intelligent, I think it's really down to the rat themselves. You'll often hear that boys are lazier and more cuddly. Our big boys are lazy but they don't like being cuddled for long. When out they want to free range and only free range! Our girls will happily be shoved into a baggy jumper to play and will eventually settle for a cuddle on you. Our 'big' girl (the smallest of our mischief apart from the 3mo runt!) is a year and a half-ish and is very sweet, loves coming for cuddles.

We have a ledge screwed onto the girls cage door and we seem to have accidentally trained them into thinking that if they sit on the ledge they'll get a cuddle. It's amusing to watch them perch on it and then just stare at us until we cave!

I'd say minimum of two, but three is a nice number. It also means that if one dies (as can happen!) the other has a companion. We ended up with our 5mo girls when we realised that our old girl's companion was dying, she died three weeks after we got the new babies. Our 3mo, Ashi, got bought because we loved the dynamic of the three girls and wanted the boys to have similar, but that went a bit tits up as Ashi is a runt and not very well because of it, he doesn't like other rats and the big boys are scared of his seizures, so he's now alone, but much happier for it.

RoastingYourChestnutsHurtsAlot Mon 29-Dec-14 21:22:12

I'd steer more towards gerbils if I were you - rabbits, pigs and rats need a lot of time and attention, gerbils need more than hamsters and mice but are more interactive and fun and not as flighty as mice

I miss my girls and am very tempted to get another pair

70isaLimitNotaTarget Mon 29-Dec-14 22:08:36

Gerbils are tidier because they don't pee as much ( being desert animals originally ) - glares at the guineas who can literally pee rivers.

PixieofCatan Mon 29-Dec-14 22:19:56

Ah, the peeing! Haku is good at that <<grumbles>> he scent marks everything.he's the only one who does, though Ashi is starting to. Though i don't know how much of that is him being ill and having accidents and how much is scent marking.

that is one thing about male rats, they do scent mark, but it's not as bad as it's made out to be and it can be eliminated through neutering them if it gets bad. Girls don't do it.

RoastingYourChestnutsHurtsAlot Mon 29-Dec-14 22:22:35

Gerbils are amazing critters and great fun to just sit and watch

Besta Mon 29-Dec-14 22:42:24

All the websites don't recommend it but I'd honestly say a pair of rabbits are fantastic pets. We have two French lops that are like little puppies, playful and so friendly and they follow us around the garden. If I'd known how well behaved they were going to be, I'd have let them stay in the house (as it is they have a huge converted dog kennel in the garden).

The only downside is that rabbits aren't pets that like to be cuddled but it's easy to interact with them on their level.

We have two gerbils. They aren't the worlds most exciting pets and DS doesn't have much interest in them, but they are fairly low maintenance. They live in the living room (except when we want to watch something in the evening as they do chew and rustle a bit) . I change their water, food and sand bowl every couple of days, and their bedding once a fortnight. So all in all, about two hours work a month.

HexBramble Mon 05-Jan-15 22:25:16

Ok, gerbils sound the way to go.
I think the glass tank for 'digging stuff' clearly an expert already topped with a wire cage is on my shopping list, along with a mesh wheel to keep long tails safe and a good sturdy water bottle.

Advice on 'stuff' to buy please? The plan is to wrap the cage/tank and have all bedding/foods/random gerbil items in a gift bag. I am also ordering a book on gerbil keeping. All these will be her birthday present, but I am not getting actual gerbil pair until we've both done some proper groundwork. Am phoning the local pet rescue centre tomorrow to see if there's any gerbils that need re-homing. Am I on the right track here?

PixieofCatan Mon 05-Jan-15 22:37:18

Darn, you've gone to the dark side wink

It may be worth checking local rodent breeders in your area as well. Some will breed other rodents or take in rescues. My rat breeder breeds gerbils and hamsters IIRC and also runs a rodent-based rescue, so rehomes rats, GPs, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, etc.

How exciting though, good luck on your foray into gerbil ownership smile

HexBramble Mon 05-Jan-15 22:37:38

Hmm hitting a snag already. Feedback on pet stores say that some poor gerbils get their legs and feet caught in the wire mess flooring?! What's the best option here?

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