What Is The Easiest Pet Rodent To Take Care Of?

There will come the inevitable day when a child asks to have a pet. A pet is a lot of responsibility, you might say. It costs a lot of money to keep an animal happy and healthy, not to mention it takes a lot of time. There are options, though, that take minimal effort and can still result in a lot of fun and pride in taking care of a small creature, like a rodent.

There are several rodents that are fairly easy to take care of. Some of the most popular rodents are…

  • Hamsters
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Gerbils

Each of these requires minimal maintenance and tend to live happy and healthy lives with just a little attention.

In this article, we will take a look at the positives and negatives of these rodents so that you can make up your mind about which would be easiest for you or your child to take care of.

Rodents are Great For Beginners

They are cheap, small, and easy to feed. These qualities make them a good option for those who have never had a pet, especially children who are up to the task. Here we will break down the positives and negatives of choosing each of these different rodent pets

Hamsters Are Solitary Mini-Bears

Cute Hamster

Hamsters have long been a popular choice of pet for children and rodent enthusiasts for a long time. The most popular being golden hamsters or teddy bear hamsters.

The Pros of Hamsters

  • Hamsters Can Live Alone: Hamsters actually prefer to live a solitary lifestyle. It certainly adds to ease of care considering that they don’t need a companion to stay happy and healthy.
  • Hamsters Are Docile: As long as they are handled carefully and become used to their keeper, hamsters have an agreeable temperament for the most part.
  • Hamsters Are Active During The Day: Hamsters are diurnal. They are most active during the day which can make them a good choice for those that spend time at home with them.

The Cons Of Hamsters

  • Hamsters Aren’t Very Entertaining: While they are calm and simple to care for, hamsters aren’t the most intelligent of the popular rodent pets. They aren’t particularly affectionate or interested in tricks or games.
  • Hamsters Can Be Nippy: They also have a tendency to bite. While their bites aren’t particularly painful or dangerous, it can severely limit the amount of fun you can have with them. This can be especially problematic for a child that already has a tenuous grasp on responsibility.
  • They Are Short Lived: They only live about 3 – 4 years.

Mice Are Small And Cute

Though small, mice can have a lot of personality and are a joy to watch and interact with.

The Pros Of Mice

  • Mice Are Very Small: Since they are the smallest of the rodent pets, they require very little resources to thrive. They don’t need a large habitat and they don’t require much food.
  • Mice Are Entertaining: They are social creatures that are surprisingly intelligent for their size. They enjoy playing with their companions, toys, and structures in their habitats.
  • Mice Are Cheap: Mice are a cost-effective option for those seeking a first time, low maintenance rodent, though you will be likely buying more than one.

The Cons Of Mice

  • Mice Need Company: Mice need to live in pairs or groups. These groups should only contain one male mouse, as males will frequently fight each other in captivity.
  • Mice Are Sometimes Too Small: Because they are so small, they are prone to escaping and getting lost. They are also very easy to injure and much care needs to be practiced when handling them.
  • Mice Are Skittish: They are more nervous than most other rodents kept as pets. They are prey for a lot of animals in the wild, so it is ingrained in their nature to be nervous.

Rats Are Smart And Affectionate

Rat being cuddled close to face

Rats are capable of complex thought and emotion that is incredibly surprising for a creature of their size.

Pros Of Rats

  • Rats Are Intelligent: Rats can learn their names and a multitude of simple tricks. They also form strong bonds with their owners.
  • Rats Are Affectionate: They are definitely the cuddliest of the pet rodents. Rats love to hang out with their owners and will cuddle up in pockets, hair or on top of a shoulder. They will also give frequent and enthusiastic kisses and show a lot of enthusiasm when their wonder is home.
  • Rats Are Easy To Handle: Their high intelligence and affectionate nature make them a lot easier to handle than most rodents. While most rodents might try to escape or get nippy, rats like to hang out.

The Cons Of Rats

  • Rats Require More: Rats are larger rodents and require larger habitats. They also need a lot of stimulation via toys, puzzles, treats as well as companion rats in their habitats so that they don’t become bored and destructive.
  • Rats Are Escape Artists: Those added smarts can get them in trouble when they decide to escape their cage. They can figure out simple locking mechanisms or chew through parts of their cage if they so choose.
  • They Are Short Lived: They live about as long as hamsters and mice, 3 – 4 years. Because they do form better bonds than most rodents, it can be far more tragic when they pass.

Guinea Pigs Are Large And Docile

Fat Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pigs are a popular choice for those that want something a bit larger and vocal.

Pros of Guinea Pigs

  • Guinea Pigs Are Gentle: They have a gentle temperament. They rarely, if ever bite and they do well in social pairs or small groups. They act almost like a tiny flock of sheep when they form tight bonds with their companions.
  • Guinea Pigs Are Larger: Many people choose these rodents based on their size. There is just more to love.
  • Guinea Pigs Homes Are Simple: They aren’t big climbers and they tend to not be big escape artists either. Guinea pigs don’t need a lot of height in their cages as long as there are places to hide.

Cons Of Guinea Pigs

  • Guinea Pigs Have Demanding Diets: These rodents need a diet that is high in fresh vegetables, grass, and hay. They eat like tiny livestock animals which means you will spend more on quality food.
  • Guinea Pigs Are Noisy: They are the noisiest of these rodents. They like to squeak and shriek, communicating to each other and their humans. This happens day and night and can be a bit annoying to some.
  • Guinea Pigs Are Jumpy: They aren’t the easiest rodents to handle and they tend to be afraid of anything new in their environment. Strangers can be met with loud squeals and hiding.

Gerbils Are Small And Entertaining

Young Gerbil

Sort of like a cross between a mouse and a hamster, gerbils are social, entertaining creatures.

Pros Of Gerbils

  • Gerbils Are Active: Gerbils are known for their high energy antics. They love to hop, burrow, and play with their companions.
  • Gerbils Habitats Are Simple: They don’t need as large of a habitat as a rat, nor do they need tubes that are commonplace in hamster enclosures. They just need substrate for burrowing, something to hide in, and a friend or two.

Cons Of Gerbils

  • Gerbils Are Hard To Handle: They can be pretty spazzy. Their quick movements can make them difficult to handle, though they aren’t opposed to handling necessarily. They just aren’t very good at it.
  • Gerbils Are Chewers: All rodents are chewers but gerbils are especially prone to gnawing on things in their habitat. They need toys and chews so they can gnaw and naturally file their teeth. They can even chew and ingest things like plastic toys and hides, so those need to be avoided.
  • Gerbils May Be Illegal: In some states, it is illegal to own gerbils. They can easily get into the wild if they escape and they are destructive to the environments that they enter as an invasive species.

Whichever of these animals you choose as a pet is going to be easy to care for. By considering which things are important to you when choosing a rodent, you should be able to find which one best works for your situation.

Lee Cameron

When I was younger, I had guinea pigs and hamsters as pets. There was limited information back then as to how to take care of rodents, and indeed information on the various types of rodents that could be kept as pets. In this website, I hope to make it an easy, one-stop information portal on raising rodents!

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