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  1. #1
    ang79 is online now Ruby level (4000+ posts)
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    Default Tell me about owning a small pet (hamster, guinea pig, lizard, etc.)

    We got Dd1 a fish tank and Beta for her 15th birthday. She had a few fish years ago but the tank was too small and no filter so none of the lasted long. She decided she wanted another one and we recently put down her favorite cat due to old age and illness, so thought giving her another pet to dote on would help her cope. DD2 has a birthday coming up in November. I thought she may ask for a fish as well but she keeps hinting at other small animals (mouse, rabbit, hamster, chinchilla, cat, or another dog). While I wouldnít mind another cat our Pekingese thinks itís great fun to chase our other cat. What other small pet that she could ideally keep in her room would be easy to take care of? She loves all kinds of animals.


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  2. #2
    Tenasparkl is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    My teen has an ornate wood turtle. He isn't aquatic and lives in a habitat with wood chips and a large water bowl that he can climb into for the occasional dip. He really doesn't require much work - just the usual food and water, cleaning his habitat, turning on and off his heat lamp etc. We also have a larger outdoor habitat that I call his "summer home" with both an area exposed to the sun and an area that's dark in case he wants to burrow. He won't live as long or get as large as a tortoise, but is similar in care. She wanted a mouse/rabbit/hamster or something else furry but I knew my dog would be obsessed and make that a struggle. He isn't cuddly but she loves to take him out and let him walk around the yard and follow him around.

  3. #3
    mmsmom is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    DD has had 2 hamsters. They are super easy and cute. They both lived for almost 2 years. They were in a cage in her room (do not get the plastic cages with tubes- hamsters need more room- and the plastic holds odors. We have a 2 level wire cage. Feed every day and clean cage every 10 days or so. DD trained her hamsters and they spent a lot of time out of cage with her. I thought it was going to be a nightmare with cat and dog but surprisingly cat lost interest and dog was afraid of it. We would only let her take hamster out when door to her room was closed.

  4. #4
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    nfceagles is online now Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    We got our first pet last January. A hamster for my 13yo. We all get a kick out of him and heís cute and easy, BUT he is very nocturnal. DD sometimes goes a week without seeing him because heís usually only up between 11pm and 5:30am. We have a camera on top that notifies us on the rare occasion he comes out mid day so we can rush over to see him. DD wonít wake him because she thinks thatís rude, but I occasionally do so gently and secretly and then call her to tell her heís out. Also, he nibbles. Not in a mean way but he seems to think your fingers are treats and it makes him not easy to hold or cuddle. I think heís more nocturnal and more nibbly than the average hamster but thought Iíd mention thatís an unfortunate possibility.


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  5. #5
    marinkitty is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    We've had a chinchilla and a dwarf hamster. A chinchilla is NOT an easy pet. They are super time intensive, fragile, expensive and they live forever. My DD did a great job with hers (who unfortunately died at 2 years old due to a bad reaction to a medication, which was heartbreaking). After the chinchilla she moved to a hamster which is super easy but as other PPs have noted, not a day time pet as they are totally nocturnal. DD has hers in her room in a 40-gallon fish tank. Feed every three days, clean the cage once a month. Supposed to have only lived 18 months, but he's at 2 years going strong. I now take care of him because she's off at college and it's no big deal at all. None of us expected him to be alive at this point! Very cute and sweet if you happen to catch him in the evening. Super active at night but that never bothered DD having him in her room. We have three cats and they all enjoy watching these caged pets but it means the cage has to be super secure so they never escape and the cats cannot get in.

  6. #6
    mom2binsd is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    DD had a few hamsters, one lived 3.5 years, which is a long time. It had a stroke or seizure one night, and she begged me to take it to an emergency vet, which they really can't do much for them, but will charge a ton, I said nope we aren't taking it. Make sure you set up those kind of guidelines before. These small pets are not long lasting, so if your child will be heartbroken it may not be the best. Also hamsters are not usually cuddly, none of her hamsters were. She got her first at 13 and had to do all the cleaning etc. I'm not really a pet person, if we had a different lifestyle, were home more and had extra money I'd get a nice size rescue dog, but am glad not to have any pets right now, except a fish that DS is taking care of for DD while she's at school.

  7. #7
    California is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    For your scenario, Iíd recommend a hamster, if possible through a rescue that specializes in small animals. The volunteers will be able to tell you how friendly the hamster is. Some of them are really sweet. If they arenít handled much, they tend to be biters. But- you can definitely find ones that like being held.

    We have guinea pigs. They take bigger cages than pet stores sell- they arenít climbers like a hamster or rat so they need a lot of horizontal space. Most do best in pairs. Weíve fostered close to 90 piggies at this point and have loved every one. Each has a unique personality, most are very sweet, and they can be snuggly. But they do require daily attention and care. Boys need ďboar careĒ once a month to make sure their private are clean. Both boys and girls need once a month nail trims and baths. Our own piggies are seven and still going strong. DS, who is the one who got us started fostering, is away at college and DD1 and I share all the care responsibilities now. I donít mind. But I do have to make sure to fit their floor time, snuggles, and clean up into my schedule every day.

    ETA: Definitely wouldnít recommend a chinchilla as a pet for a child. As PP mentioned they are delicate. They have a narrow temperature range they can be exposed to and out of the animals you mentioned are the most likely to be standoffish.

    I really like rabbits. You can find ones that are very friendly. They need daily floor (or exercise pen) time, and are going to be higher maintenance (similar to a guinea pig) than a hamster. They are chewers, so if allowed to roam around indoors youíve got to make sure all cords are up. They are bigger and stronger than guinea pigs, and itíd be best to adopt from a rescue that will show you how to approach, pick up, and hold a rabbit (true for any animal, when I think about it!) Outdoors, they are diggers - if you do outdoor exercise time youíve got to be careful they donít dig out. If we didnít have a dog Iíd foster rabbits too. Weíve had some real love bugs come through our rescue.
    Last edited by California; 10-08-2021 at 11:43 PM.

  8. #8
    ang79 is online now Ruby level (4000+ posts)
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    Thanks for weighing in. I had a lop eared rabbit as a kid, eventually had to regime it when I went away for college, it lived a long time! I do think hamster sounds the easiest, but she is worried about it being nocturnal and waking her up at night or not being able to have much play time with it during the day/after school. Also, the short life span is a concern. Weíve had to put down two cats in the past 2 years and she had a very hard time with losing them.

    She had now moved on to looking at a degu, but they also need to be in pairs like guinea pigs. And she looked at budgies/parakeets. I suggested a hermit crab. DH thinks we should just get a second dog, but Iím worried that will make traveling harder (currently we take our rescue dog with us because I canít bear to board her and have her think we left herÖ..). I would like another cat, but Iím worried about the dog chasing and terrorizing it. Our current cat pretty much stays in the basement now because of that.


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  9. #9
    doberbrat is online now Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    If the dog chases the cat, I'd be concerned about bringing in a smaller animal like a rabbit, hamster etc. Usually, prey drive is prey drive.... What happens when you're outside and she sees a rabbit or squirrel? At least a cat has a fighting chance with a dog that size.

    Gerbils are small animals that can make good pets. They're less nocturnal and can be a little calmer than hamsters. tbh, I always trained my hamsters to wake up for food and playtime when I got home from school. They never seemed to mind.
    dd1 10/05
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    and 2 cocker spaniels

  10. #10
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    We have a bearded dragon that's been around for 7 years now. It "belongs" to DS1. He's easy from a pet standpoint compared to our two dogs. He lives in our playroom, where he gets enough stimulation from kids hanging out. At this point, we feed him greens and water him each day and feed crickets twice a week. DS1 cleans his tank, which is so much easier than cleaning up after a little furry critter. Their waste is basically solid and we use reptile carpets, which are easy to launder and sanitize. He has more personality than I expected from a reptile - he follows people around the room and the kids swear he bops his head to the beat of music. Easiest animal I've ever had! Obviously he's not furry and cuddly but super easy to care for after the novelty wears off. My dogs don't pay him much attention at all but neither of the have a particularly strong prey drive.

    We had gerbils growing up. I think they were pretty good pets and allowed us to handle them but I don't remember much more.
    Mom to Two Wild and Crazy Boys and One Sweet Baby Girl

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