Read Northlands' advice before buying kids a small furry pet

When looking to get your child’s first pet, many parents will automatically think, ‘small furry animal’. Whilst some small furries can be rewarding first pets, they also require a lot of dedication and commitment to make sure they are looked after appropriately. Get Northlands Veterinary Hospital's advice on what to consider before buying a small mammal for your child.

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Common small animals kept as pets include guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, mice, and rats. According to our Kettering nursing team, they have many differences besides appearance, so it is crucial that you fully research the species and what their requirements are before committing to any of them. For example, guinea pigs are typically easier to handle than rabbits, meaning they might make a better option for your child.

Other things that need to be considered include:

  • Home setup – what do you need?
  • Who is responsible for cleaning them out and feeding?
  • Lifespan of the animal?
  • Do they need a companion?
  • Are they nocturnal?
  • Do they hibernate?

Having a good understanding of the above questions means that choosing the most suitable pet should be easier. Read our helpful guide on the different types of small furries you can keep as pets – download our Small Furry Pet Stats here.

Home setup needed for small furry pets

Some small animals need to be kept outside in a hutch (that can be brought inside a shed or indoors in very cold weather and has shade from the sun), whilst some need to be kept indoors in a suitable cage. Either way, they will need decent-sized housing with room to grow, especially if they need a companion. Small furries also need items inside their housing for enrichment, such as toys, hideouts, exercise equipment, and things to gnaw. All species need cleaning out regularly, so estimating how long this will take and deciding who is responsible is very important.

Life expectancy

Some small animals may only have a life expectancy of 1-2 years while others may live 10+ years. This may be a deciding factor when choosing your child’s pet, as it will give you an idea of the long-term commitment that you are making.

Veterinary care

Regular health checks at our Kettering vet practice will help our team to spot any problems that need addressing. Just like cats and dogs, each type of small furry pet comes with their own set of typical health problems you should make yourself aware of before buying one. For example, rabbits and guinea pigs can be prone to deadly flystrike if their housing is not kept clean. Some small furries have a higher risk of respiratory issues and lumps too.

Small furry pet companions

When it comes to companionship, some small animals may be happy to live on their own whilst others need a companion to be happy and healthy. Same or opposite sex pairings and groups will depend on the species (and the individual animal), as not all will get along – then comes the question of neutering. The veterinary team at Northlands Veterinary Hospital advise that rabbits and male guinea pigs are typically neutered if living in same-sex pairs or groups. This is also important as multiple animals means more responsibilities and costs.

There are many places you can go to for advice on what small animal may suit your family most. These include speaking to the vet nurses at your local veterinary practice, pet shops, reliable internet sources, and rescue centres. Doing the research at the beginning will make the whole process more rewarding and easier in the long run to ensure your pet is kept healthy and happy, and your child has a pet they can enjoy being responsible for.

Did you know that some animal rescue centres also have small furry pets in need of a loving home?

Remember to check out our helpful Pet Stats to aid your decision making:

Download our small furry pet stats

Read Northlands' advice before buying kids a small furry pet