Popular Species

Keeping a rabbit or rodent as a pet offers many advantages over traditional pets like dogs or cats. They do not need licenses. They do not need much exercise.

They do not take up much space. They are often allowed in apartments that ban dogs or cats. Rabbits and rodents are just as loveable and colorful as larger pets. Here is a look at rabbits the most popular pet species of rodents.

Rabbits

According to the American Pet Products Association 2010 survey, rabbits are the third most popular pet in America. There are good reasons for this popularity. Rabbits are cute, trainable and intelligent. Since rabbits are so popular veterinarians are used to treating them. Even neutering a rabbit is a common surgical procedure so the rabbit owner does not have to worry about babies. Rabbits come in a wide variety of sizes, colors and coat lengths. It is best to keep rabbits inside since it is too dangerous to keep them outside in hutches. Rabbits can be trained to use a litter box. Rabbits are not rodents, but their food, grooming and other supplies are often lumped together with pet rodents in pet stores. Rabbits live up to 12 years old.

Guinea Pigs

These tailless rodents average three pounds, which makes them good for children who cannot handle smaller and more fragile pets. Guinea pigs are social animals and should not be kept alone unless they get a lot of attention from their people. The most important thing to know about guinea pigs is that their bodies cannot make vitamin C – just like people. They need to eat foods rich in vitamin C in order not to get sick. For this reason, they should not be given rabbit food since it will not have enough vitamin C. Guinea pigs can be trained to perform simple tricks. Like rabbits, they should be kept indoors and not in outdoor hutches. They can live up to 10 years, although the average lifespan is five years.

Hamsters

Hamsters have only been kept as pets for less than 100 years but they have become very popular for their ease of care and cuteness. They are also very smart and can learn simple tricks. Unlike rabbits or guinea pigs, hamsters are nocturnal and prefer to sleep in the daytime. Try not to disturb a sleeping hamster since this scares them. Scared hamsters are prone to bite. They eat a wide variety of foods easily available in grocery or pet stores. The most common pet species are:

  • Syrian: the largest species and what people tend to think of when hearing the word "hamster." They live about three years and need to be kept alone. Longhaired Syrians are known as Teddies.
  • Russian dwarf hamster: They are half the size of the Syrian and have a shorter life expectancy but still make great pets. They do not come in as many colors as the Syrian. Mainly they are grey and white.
  • Roborovski dwarf hamster: The smallest pet hamster species is shy and not easily tamed. They look like furry ping pong balls. They get along well with others of their own species.

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