Top 10 Perfect Pocket Pets
Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff
March 1, 2011
Filed Under Pets
Contributed by Samantha Rose, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru
Can’t live without them, sometimes can’t live with them: pets. No one can deny that dogs are man’s best friend and that cats are purrfectly precious.
However a busy schedule can make it difficult to find the time to devote to a creature dependent on routine walks or meals. Not to mention landlords who aren’t fond of large dogs or cat litter boxes littering their rentals. Don’t fret!
Not all hope is lost. Consider pocket sized pets that are low maintenance but just as loving as dogs and cats – in their own unique way. Here are my choices for the top ten perfect pocket pets:
One of the more exotic pocket pets on this list, chinchillas are fascinating. Known for their soft fur, chinchillas are becoming less of a fashion statement. These sweet creatures are hypo-allergenic and come in beautiful colors including ebony, sapphire and violet. Hailing from the Andes Mountains in South America, chinchillas are popular to those looking for exotic pets.
These little creatures, about the size of squirrels, are active and require plenty of exercise. Their teeth need to be worn down constantly with chew toys. To keep their fur clean chinchillas need dust baths with special dust made of fine pumice. Their dense fur retains moisture, so water baths are an absolute no. Chinchillas cannot sweat and need environments below 80°F (25°C) so they don’t overheat. They also have sensitive GI tracts so a well-maintained diet is necessary.
Still want a chinchilla? It’s up to you to decide if this high-maintenance pet is worth the money and effort.
9. Sugar Gliders
A marsupial native to Australia, the sugar glider is an extra-tiny pocket pet that prefers to travel wrapped around your finger. Seriously, sugar gliders have five to six inch bodies, not including their long tails. Their defining feature is a black stripe that runs from their nose to midway down their back. With adorable button eyes and tiny paws, sugar gliders snuggle right up to their owners, sometimes preferring to ride along in the pocket or on the shoulder.
Much like the ferret, sugar gliders have scent glands located around their faces as well as on their bodies. Although not as pungent, these scent glands are used primarily for marking territory. In other words, sugar gliders like to urine mark their territories. With the proper diet, neutering and cage clean up your sugar glider won’t have a noticeably strong odor and will be less likely to mark territory.
Rare pets until the 1980s, ferrets are increasingly popular as domesticated pets. Ferrets sleep for about fourteen to eighteen hours each day, but when awake are frantically active. Thus, ferrets need tall cages with multiple levels and plenty of hanging beds. Ferrets are known to be curious and playful so you’ll also have to supervise your pet carefully while out of its cage.
Ferrets may be loveable, but their pungent odor deters many potential owners. Mammals have musk glands to identify and communicate with other – ferrets in particular have anal scent sacs and musk glands around their faces. Humans have adapted to the common scent of cats or dogs, but the ferret smell often catches new owners by surprise. Many ferret owners find ferret shampoos and deodorizers helpful. Over time your nose will grow accustomed to the ferret scent, but until then expect your eyes to water around your new friend.
From the Easter Bunny to Bugs Bunny, rabbits are popularized in American culture and domesticated breeds are hopping into people’s hearts. Anyone can find a suitable pet rabbit with the varied choices of breeds, colors, sizes and coat types. The two most popular rabbit breeds are Rexes with velvet-like fur and lop-eared with their distinctive floppy ears.
Rabbits need an appropriately sized, well-ventilated cage or hutch to hold a litter box, hay bin and food container while giving them room to hop and stretch horizontally and vertically. Buy a rabbit leash and you can even take your bunny for a walk outdoors – more likely you’ll sit and read while your rabbit nibbles the grass around you before “flopping out,” lying down. That said rabbits need plenty of exercise and veggies to stay healthy. Watch your little nibbler carefully while out of its cage or you may find gnawed table legs, books, baseboard molding and dangerous chewed cords. But give your rabbit a few carrots – or bananas, or pineapples or anything really – and you’ll have a devoted furry companion.
Do you want your pet to speak back when you talk? To greet you at the door and echo back your coos? Then a bird that mimics your every word might be the best pet for you.
Birds love to chatter and are fascinating to observe. Canaries and finches are good birds for beginners and can entertain with their chirps and songs. Little parakeets are small, beautiful and bond with their owners. The whistling Cockatiel parrot, a larger bird, has a strikingly powerful whistle. Or perhaps a pair of lovebirds is more appropriate for you and your sweetheart.
Although small bird cages don’t take up much space, the area surrounding their home is prone to have a mess of birdseed, feathers and droppings. For little creatures, birds are extremely messy.
There are numerous types of turtles that can be kept as pets, which one is best for you is just a matter of preference. Various sizes, colors and requirements should be taken into consideration. But the basics of owning a pet turtle are the same.
The turtle must have specific food and a turtle habitat with enough light, shade and moisture while remaining at a specific temperature.
The drawback of a pet turtle is the hibernation. Turtles that hibernate usually do so in the fall and re-emerge in the spring. Disturbing a turtle’s hibernation cycle could cause liver disease and be fatal.
Another exotic pet, the hedgehog is better suited to older children and adults. The domesticated version of the European hedgehog is smaller and has a sweeter temperament. The innocent looks and playful nature of the hedgehog has it gaining popularity in the U.S. as an exotic pet – not to mention the good reputation established by the blue-spiked Sonic.
Hedgehogs are defined by their spines which are actually hollow hairs stiff with keratin. Don’t fear the spines of a hedgehog because they are neither poisonous nor barbed and cannot come out like porcupine spines – except for “quilling.”
Hedgehogs are low-maintenance and clean pets. Their curiosity makes them quick to adjust to their owner. Check your state laws before buying a hedgie because they are illegal in a few U.S. states.
Only second to guinea pigs, as far as rodents go, hamsters are pocket-sized, adorable, low-maintenance and cheap. Teddy bear hamsters are popular with their fuzzy fros. Russian dwarf hamsters are sociable and can be kept in pairs. Roborovski dwarf hamsters are the smallest of the more popular breeds.
The downside to the little fur balls is that they are fragile. Although hamsters are great pets for young children, they require supervision at all times. Hamsters need lots of stimulation but tend to exercise during the nighttime since they are nocturnal. To top it all off, that little ball of cuteness doesn’t have a long life expectancy.
2. Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are the classic kid-friendly rodent. Cuter than rats and sturdier than hamsters, guinea pigs are a crowd pleaser with parents. If handled properly in their youth, guinea pigs rarely bite or scratch later on and grow very amiable towards their owners.
Like Rodney, the outspoken guinea pig in Dr. Doolittle, guinea pigs have a variety of personalities. Most tend to be timid and as such don’t get into trouble quickly, allowing you plenty of time to avoid potential problems. Others are affectionate and may give you a hello whistle upon your approach. One drawback to guinea pigs is that they do much better in pairs or groups. Lone guineas suffer from stress and depression. It is even illegal to sell lone guinea pigs in Sweden.
Keep your guinea pig amused with toys and treats and they’ll shower you with affection. Makes you wonder how some people can stand to eat these furry little pals.
Topping the charts at number one is the tried and true “pocket pet” – the goldfish and beta fish. Let’s face it, fish may not be cuddly but they are cheap and beautiful to watch. Novice fish owners can spend about $20 or so for a small fish tank, filter, fish flake food, and one goldfish – all the basics.
Fish owning is a hobby to some and experts spend a pretty penny to upgrade their tanks to wall-length aquarium habitats full of exotic and colorful fish like koi, angelfish, and Arowana – at a whopping $80,000. Larger aquariums require much more maintenance since exotic fish are fussy and need to have perfectly regulated environments to survive. Goldfish also make ornamental pets in enclosed fish-friendly aquatic environments.
Simply put – fish are the easiest pet to own and with the right care, even a goldfish can live for ten years!