A rat on a wood floor.
Rat in the house on the floor

Pet adoption is one of the biggest and most important decisions in modern life. Knowing exactly what kind of pet will fit into your home and lifestyle can lead you to the right animal friend. Unfulfilled expectations or surprising responsibilities have unfortunate outcomes for both pet owners and their pets, and adoption advocates can help prospective adopters make the right decision. Elmhurst Animal Care Center recommends taking extra time to consider the best rodent pets before taking the leap into ownership:

Why Adopt a Rodent?

Rodents have highly specific care requirements, but they pale in comparison to what cats and dogs need. After their pint-sized, fluffy cuteness, their affordability and uncomplicated care explains their popularity.

Despite their low-maintenance reputation, rodents do require and benefit from daily human interaction and enrichment opportunities to become the best possible animal companions.

Best Rodent Pets

Keep in mind that some rodents thrive when part of a small group. It may make sense to adopt more than one small rodent, provided you have enough space for them. 

Don’t forget to consider their lifespan before you adopt, as many rodents can live for several years and deserve lifelong care. Mice and hamsters have the shortest lifespans at 1-3 years, whereas rats can live up to 4, and guinea pigs can enjoy an average life of 7 long years!

The best rodent pets are properly cared for with regard to their environment/housing, social needs, and diet. We recommend thoroughly considering what it takes to routinely clean their cage and think about how it might be to live with their numerous squeaks, chirps, and squeals at different hours of the day. 

Fuzzy and Furry

Those that like small animals tend to like them all. Because each species has their own unique qualities, it may be hard to choose the right rodent for you or your family. To help with your choice, we offer the following guide to the 10 best rodent pets out there today:

  1. Guinea pig – Full of personality and affection, guinea pigs add a great deal to any household. Because they are extremely social, adopt 2 same-sex piggies for loads of fun. Don’t overlook their diet: cavies need lots of fresh hay, veggies, and vitamin C.
  2. Fancy mouse – Highly trainable animals, fancy mice can learn to eat from their owner’s hand and even perform tricks. Males can be aggressive with other males, but a couple of females can adapt well to their new home.
  3. Common rats – Intelligent, social, and even affectionate, rats can be trained for years of fun companionship.
  4. Chinchilla – Oh-so-soft and cute, chinchillas are nocturnal. You’ll still be able to snuggle and play with them during certain hours of the day, but be aware they might keep the household up if their habitat is in a bedroom. Don’t forget the dust baths!
  5. Syrian hamster – These golden-looking fluff balls have a pleasant personality and enjoy their own solitude. Like chinchillas, they are nocturnal and may feel opinionated about being woken up during the day.
  6. Dwarf hamster – These 1-ounce, 2-inch long little rodents are the ultimate pocket pets! They enjoy being softly handled (or not at all) and can be at ease within a small group of same-sex species. 
  7. Mongolian gerbil – This is one active rodent, which makes handling them difficult for some people (kids especially). They are highly social and energetic.
  8. Chinese hamster – Small and quick, these bite-size rodents can find trouble if they aren’t housed adequately. We don’t recommend keeping them in a cage with bars they could potentially squeeze through.
  9. African dormouse – With their long bushy tail, the dormouse looks a bit like a squirrel. They are extremely agile and have a habit of escaping enclosures or their owner’s grasp. Give them lots of opportunities to climb and scamper.
  10. Common degu – One of the largest pet rodents, degus are very curious and interesting animals to have around. You can even train them to cuddle with you. They may get lonely if adopted as a sole pet, however.

Love for Rodents

If we can assist you with any questions or concerns regarding the best pet rodents, the team at Elmhurst Animal Care Center is always here for you.