For many people, owning a cat or a dog isn't possible. Some people turn to rodents as suitable, loving, and fun pets due to housing restrictions or personal preferences. While many people know that hamsters, gerbils, or guinea pigs make fine pets, several rare and unusual rodents make fantastic pets. Below, let's take a closer look at some lesser-known rodents that could be the perfect new addition to your family.
Chinchillas are large rodents that are naturally found in the Andes Mountains. These pets are incredibly athletic and can jump up to five feet in a single bound. Chinchillas can make excellent pets, especially for older children or adults. Not only are chinchillas fun to watch, but they are incredibly long-lived, regularly reaching 15 years or even older.
Owning a chinchilla is a big responsibility, though. These pets need a large enclosure with plenty of enrichment and activity. Although they are astoundingly soft to the touch, not every chinchilla likes to be handled, and some can even be standoffish. If you are looking for a pet that will cuddle with you, a chinchilla might not be the right choice.
If you are looking for an unusual yet loving pet, a sugar glider may be the right choice for you. These tiny rodents are effectively flying squirrels. The sugar glider is a loving and enjoyable pet to own between its bold and striking coloration and its extremely affectionate nature.
When housed in pairs, these little rodents do best and rely heavily on social interaction with other sugar gliders and with people. Because the sugar glider likes to fly and zoom around its cage, it will need ample space to be happy. Expect to have at least a 3' x 3' x 2' cage to contain your sugar glider pet. These loving little animals will live to the ripe old age of 10 or older, pending proper care and diet. The sugar glider's diet should consist of protein and plenty of vegetables and fresh fruits for essential vitamins and minerals.
The duprasi is also sometimes called a fat-tailed gerbil. This pet rodent is slightly smaller than a gerbil but can have similar brown markings. The defining characteristic of the duprasi is the fat, beaver-like hairless tail. These are desert animals, and their tail will often indicate their hydration level. A skinny tail indicates a hungry or dehydrated duprasi, while a fat tail indicates good overall health and hydration.
Caring for a duprasi is similar to other small rodents like hamsters and gerbils. This little rodent can happily live in a small cage as long as it gets plenty of enrichment. The duprasi often does better in pairs or a small group because they are social animals in the wild. This animal is also more social and forms a tighter bond with humans than a hamster might. Unfortunately, duprasis have a short life span, usually only living to four or five years of age.
Owning a degu is a fun experience. This rodent looks like a giant gerbil, featuring a dark brown color and long tail. The degu has powerful legs that it uses to jump and romp throughout the wild. Having a degu as a pet is a fantastic alternative to a traditional gerbil or hamster. Not only do degus live longer, often reaching seven years of age or older, but degus can form intricate social networks and relationships with both humans and fellow degus.
The degu should be kept in pairs or small groups due to their social nature. This animal needs a large cage with plenty of room to romp around. Although small, the degu does best in a large cage intended for ferrets or chinchillas. The degu likes to have tunnels and ledges to explore and exercise. Degus would get a rich diet of insects, fruits, and vegetables in the wild, so it is essential to replicate this diet at home. A high-quality rodent food mixed with fresh fruit and vegetables a few times a week is enough to keep this fun, unusual pet rodent happy and healthy.
If you are looking for a larger pet rodent, a prairie dog may be the perfect choice for you. This large rodent can grow 10 to 13 inches long and will live up to 12 years in captivity. The prairie dog is an entertaining animal, but it needs plenty of attention and socialization. Expect to give at least 6 hours every day to your prairie dog for playtime and quality interaction. If you do not have this much time to dedicate to your pet, you may want to consider adopting an entire colony of prairie dogs to give your pet the socialization they need.
The prairie dog will need an extremely large enclosure that gives plenty of room for your pet to burrow and build chambers underground. For some, building a large indoor enclosure isn't possible. Never use a dog crate to house a prairie dog. For owners that live in warmer climates, a secure and safe outdoor enclosure is the perfect solution. Be sure to feed your prairie dog a healthy mix of high-quality rodent pellet mix, grasses, vegetables, and fruit to keep your pet healthy.