What Is the Most Affectionate Pet Rodent?

If you’ve been thinking about getting a pet rodent, you’ve probably heard incredible things. They’re smart, clean, and easier to look after compared to other animals, among other things. However, what most people don’t tell you is that the affection level varies from one species to another. And despite the fact that there are over 1500 rodent species, not all can be domesticated.

Rats are the most affectionate rodents. Overtime, these animals develop a deep-rooted bond with their owners. They enjoy being held, stroked, and tickled. Gerbils are also an excellent choice if you need an affectionate animal. However, unlike rats, these rodents have a hard time sitting still for cuddles.

However, species is not the only determining factor when it comes to how affectionate a rodent is. Like most pets, you’ll have to develop a strong bond with your rodent to better your relationship. The more your pet feels loved and protected, the greater the likelihood that they will reciprocate the affection. But for some species, you may have to work a bit harder.

Which Are the Most Affectionate Rodents?

Most people love pet rodents because they’re easy to take care of compared to cats and dogs. However, one can’t help but wonder if this trade-off will be worth it. Will you one day look at your pet and wonder, “does he even know me?” or if you dare ask, “does he love me?”

Types of Rodents

These are questions you may never have to ask with pets like dogs or cats because they’re naturally affectionate. But we’re not all cats and dogs people. So, what do you do? Do you pick the cutest rodent and hope to grow your bond? Not necessarily.

Some rodent species are more affectionate than others. If you pick the right one, you shouldn’t have any problem bonding with your new furry friend. Some of the best options include:


Most people consider rats as vermin and wouldn’t consider having them as pets. However, they are the cuddliest rodent pets. Rats are very social creatures that strive by forming bonds with others. When they’re domesticated, they develop a strong bond with their owner over time.

Large Rat
Rats are intelligent and clean, and love being held.

You’ll also have an easy time bonding with a rat because they like being stroked, tickled, and held. Furthermore, they like riding around their owner’s shoulders, which means more bonding time for you. Getting a pet rat is also an excellent idea because these animals are quite intelligent and clean.

The only downside of owning a pet rat is that they have a short lifespan. Rats live for about 2 to 3 years if they’re well feed and taken care of.


Gerbils are energetic and may not be able to sit still for a cuddle.

Gerbils are also quite affectionate. In the wild, these rodents live in groups where they play and groom each other. As a result, they naturally crave others’ attention and presence. Gerbils are also known to be quite curious about humans. Therefore, once you domesticate them, they learn how to trust you faster compared to other rodents.

However, unlike the rat, gerbils are not as cuddly. They’re energetic and love to move around a lot. For this reason, you may have a difficult time trying to get them to sit still for a cuddling session. This is, however, not a reflection of how they feel about you. The rodent simply loves to move around and explore their surroundings.

Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are docile, placid, and affectionate.

Another affectionate rodent you won’t go wrong with is the guinea pig. This rodent is thrives in companionship, it’s docile and friendly. These rodents are also known to have a placid temperament, which makes them an excellent pet, especially for children. They also have a lifespan of up to 8 years.

The fact that guinea pigs are bigger in size is also a bonus. Since they’re less fragile, you can pick them up and pet them. However, it may take some time to get your guinea pig to trust you. You see, these rodents tend to be wary of humans and ‘freeze’ when they’re frightened.

Therefore, you should practice ways of getting your guinea pig to trust you and feel comfortable around you. Over time, you’ll notice the rodent is more confident around people and doesn’t freeze every time you try to initiate some contact.


In their natural habitat, chinchillas love being in the company of their own. They play, sleep, and cuddle together, and display signs of distress when they’re separated. But should you expect the same level of affection when you domesticate them?

Chinchillas can be very skittish.

Not immediately. Similar to most rodents, chinchillas tend to be wary of humans and hide at the site of any ‘danger’. Therefore, in the initial stages, you may notice your chinchilla hides every time you try to approach. This is a natural protective instinct for the rodent.

You need to keep the animal feeling safe and protected to build trust over time. At some point, the rodent may allow some physical contact but not as much as guinea pigs or rats. When it comes to chinchillas, your level of interaction is on their terms, not yours.

Can Rodents Show Their Owner Love?

Despite the fact that there are over 1500 rodent species in the world, only seven known species have been domesticated. These include rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, degus, chinchillas, gerbils, and mice. The reason for this is the fact that most rodent species can’t be kept as pets and they’re afraid of humans.

The domesticated species are bred for their confidence around humans and friendly temperament. As a result, they are inclined to have a good relationship with their owner as long as they’re treated well.

Studies show that when animals (humans included) are touched or petted, a hormone known as oxytocin is released. This hormone is commonly referred to as the “cuddle” or “love” hormone. Therefore, even rodents have the ability to feel a primitive form of love towards their owner.

However, don’t expect the same reaction you’d get from a cat or a dog. Rodents express their feelings in different ways depending on their species. It’s up to you to learn more about your pet and their body language to understand these subtle cues.

For instance, while you may have an easy time petting and lifting a guinea pig, a chinchilla won’t give you this freedom. A chinchilla will show that it loves you by letting you fed it treats or stand close to it. However, what all domesticated rodents have in common is that they take time to get used to their owner.

Because these are prey animals, they have a natural instinct to protect themselves from anything that appears dangerous, including humans. Therefore, don’t rush the process. When you first adopt your rodent, make it a priority to make them feel at home.

Take time to feed the rodent and leave it some room to get accustomed to their new home before you start initiating contact. Overtime, the rodent will get used to your presence and may start showing signs of trust. Again, this will depend on the rodent species you decide to go for.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, deciding to get a pet rodent doesn’t mean you’ll never enjoy some affection. Some species are more affectionate than others and love to be cuddled and tickled as much as other pets. You may have to put in a bit more effort with animals like chinchillas, but with time, your rodent will come to love and need your attention. So, which rodent will it be?

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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