We continue to see a boom in pet ownership, including our fab small pets, partly driven by increased time spent at home in recent months. As we head towards easter bunny season, everyone wants to add a cute and fluffy new addition to their fur family – but is now the right time and what pet is right for you? Take a look at our guide, and if in doubt get in touch with your local pet retailer for their expert advice.
Is now a good time to take on a pet?
It’s a tricky decision to make – any new pets need to fit with your lifestyle both now, and when things return to a more normal routine. After all, a pet is for life, not just for lockdown and although small pets are mini in size, they are still a big commitment. We’ve put together a handy guide to help you check that the time is right.
Some of the issues that this article might flag can be mitigated by finding a pet that best suits your family, and taking the time to plan. Read on for advice on chewsing the right small pet…
How many years of pet ownership can you commit to right now? A Syrian hammie with an average lifespan of 2-3 years might suit a family better than a rabbit that could be around for 8-12 years. Older pets can have special requirements too, including different nutritional needs and extra help grooming. Healthcare is also worth considering – although pets of any age can need veterinary care, older pets are more likely to develop long-term conditions that need ongoing management.
Veterinary needs differ between species too. For example, rabbits will need vaccinations, and may also require neutering, claw-clipping and dental care, whereas other species may only need a vet appointment if they are ill. This all adds to the lifetime cost of a bunny – which is estimated to be over £7500.
Twice as nice
Some species suit solo life, but others are better in pairs or small groups, which has space and cost implications.
There are minimum hutch size requirements for rabbits, but we suggest purchasing the largest hutch and run you can accommodate. Outdoor pets might need extra products to keep them cosy in the winter and extra care during firework season. Indoor pets will also have different requirements for housing, and even nutrition.
For pets that can live in small groups, such as rats and ferrets, it can be tricky to add a new pet to an established social group, and lead to injuries and aggression if rushed. First time pet owners should home an existing group, following expert advice on space requirements and whether to house same-sex or mixed-sex groups. Be sure to seek further advice if you are considering expanding the group at a later date. Alternatively, a solitary Syrian hamster might be a better small pet for newbies.
Other species-specific points to consider include nutritional needs and supplementation, grooming requirements (such as bathing sand), and ease of handling or training. You should also ask your pet shop whether a species is naturally diurnal, nocturnal or crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk). This is particularly true for children’s pets, as it will not work well if the small furry is waking up after their mini hoomin has already gone to bed.
Preparation is key
Once you’ve settled on the right small furry, it’s time to get set up and ready to welcome your new addition. Having everything in place from the start is important, so that you can cater properly for your pet’s needs and have positive pet-owner interactions, leading to better bonding.
At Supreme, we advise choosing a species-specific diet and treats, with a focus on natural ingredients and no added sugar. We have also put together a simple infographic for small herbivores so that you can visualise the different proportions of your pet’s daily diet – with hay covering the bulk of their intake. Of course, the needs of mini omnivores, such as mice and hamsters, are different, and their kibble should reflect this.
You will want a range of other products such as water bottles or bowls, grooming tools if required, and a pet-safe spray for cleaning cages and hutches such as Tiny Farm Friends Keep It Clean. Your pet will also need space and toys for exercise.
Small pets can often be considered as children’s pets, although the responsibility of their care obviously lies with the parents and this is likely to shift even more when schools reopen. The team at Supreme have put together some interactive lessons for our ‘Small Pet School’ which cover keeping a pet healthy, how their digestive tracts work, and how to house them properly. Although these are geared towards kids, we promise that adults will pick up some useful tips too!