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Buying small pets

You can own a small pet without breaking the bank, as they are cheaper pets to keep if you make sure that you keep them healthy and happy
Should I buy a small pet for my children?

If you are thinking about buying a small pet such as a gerbil, rat or hamster for your children, you need to do your research to make sure that you buy the right pet and know how it should be looked after. The PDSA offers a useful online service that enables you to work out what type of pet is best for your family, based on issues such as place, time, exercise and how much you want to spend.


If you are going to buy your children a small pet you need to make it clear that someone must look after the pet, making sure that it is fed regularly, that it always has access to fresh water and that it is cleaned out on a regular basis.

What should I look for when buying a small pet?

Only use reputable dealers. Find out where the animal was bred, what it has been fed with and whether there have been any problems with health or behaviour. Also, find out whether the animal has been handled. Ask about the correct diet and what is required in terms of equipment, cages and toys.

Should I buy one or more small pets?

When buying a small pet you must find out whether the animal needs to be alone or should have company. Rats, for example, should live with another rat, golden hamsters should live alone but dwarf hamsters should be housed together. Also, some animals can only be housed with another of the same sex. Seek advice from your pet supplier when you buy the pet to make sure that you know how they prefer to live.

What do I need to know about handling small pets?

Small pets should be handled from an early age so that they get used to human contact. Always handle them gently and never make any sudden movements. Some long haired pets may need grooming, usually every day. You will need to get them used to this process at an early age so that they are not stressed when you groom them.

What illnesses do I need to look out for in small pets?

Rodent poisoning can be a big problem with small pet rodents. Never let your pet come into contact with rat poisons, chocolate, ivy, foxglove or oleander. If you suspect poisoning contact your vet straightaway.


Check your pet every day. If you notice any changes in behaviour such as not eating or drinking, hiding much more often or not coming out to play, your pet could be ill or in pain. If in doubt always consult your vet.