There are plenty of different types of pets that you can adopt and purchase. Some people prefer the usual cats or dogs, while other people might want to take in a bird or a fish. Some people adopt reptiles, while others turn their focus toward amphibians.
If you are interested in something small with a massive personality, then you might want to consider the idea of looking into a pocket pet. A pocket pet, as the name may suggest, is a pet of a naturally small size and is commonly an exotic animal. These pets, while being very small on their own, often have huge personalities and can quickly bond with their owners to become one of the most memorable pets that one could ever own.
Before you begin looking into adopting a pocket pet of your own, you might begin to wonder what exactly classifies as a pocket pet, and what kind of care they might need. You should also think about a few different questions as well, such as how you might find a vet who has the expertise and equipment to work on small, potentially exotic animals. Just as adopting any other pet, it is important to put time and research into pocket pets and figuring out which one is going to be right for you and your family.
What Classifies as a Pocket Pet?
Both children and adults alike are drawn to the allure of a pocket pet: a pet so small it can fit in your pocket. But what actually counts as a pocket pet? After all, you can probably fit a newborn kitten into your pocket and most species of aquarium fish could fit, but they are not considered pocket pets. In a very vague sense, pocket pets are almost always small mammals. From ferrets to guinea pigs, from gerbils to hedgehogs, these are all considered pocket pets. Chances are that if it is a small mammal, it would fall under the definition of a pocket pet. Most pocket pets are related to rodents in some capacity, if they are not already rodents.
With that being said, pocket pets can be considered small mammals that do not take up too much space and usually do not require the same amount of commitment as other, more traditional, pets might. Of course, they will still require care and attention, but the reduced amount of commitment needed makes them great starting pets for children who want to experience what it is like to own and care for an animal.
They can also make great pets for people who have a busy life and may not have the time to tend to a dog’s needs, but may still want a soft and furry companion. No matter if you are young or old, there’s a good chance that you will be able to find a pocket pet for you.
What Are the Most Common Pocket Pets?
Pocket pets can be divided into two separate categories of animals. There are the regular pets and then there are the exotic pets. Regular pocket pets have a better chance of getting a vet more easily, and they will often be easier to research and adopt. Depending on the pet itself, they are also often less expensive and may even be found in your local pet store. Exotic pets, on the other hand, usually come from breeders. You may need to find a vet who specializes in small, exotic animals as well. They can be more expensive, and they may require more research if you want to give your pocket pet a comfortable life.
As for the regular pocket pets that you might come across, you can often find them in pet stores. These include hamsters, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, hedgehogs. gerbils, rats, and mice. These are all considered pocket pets that you can find more easily and that you will be able to find a considerable amount of information on when it comes to the care of these animals. A few of them, particularly the smallest ones, may require a specialist vet, but mostly because it is not easy to operate on something as small as a hamster.
Exotic pocket pets have risen in popularity, as more and more people have become enthralled with some of their appearances. One of the most famous ones is the sugar glider. Additionally, exotic pocket pets include squirrels, flying squirrels, some types of lizard, chinchillas, and so on.
These animals may take more work to find someone who is selling them, as some of them may not be sold in traditional pet stores. it may take some more work to find out what makes some of these animals happy, as they are not some of the more common pets out there. However, caring for these animals will be well worth it in the end.
What Kind of Care Do Pocket Pets Need?
It can generally go without saying that different animals are going to need different standards of care. A rabbit is going to have a vastly different diet than a lizard. A gerbil is going to require notably less space than a ferret will.
However, all of these pets share the same base requirements. Before you can get started on caring for your brand-new friends, you will need to consider a few questions. For one, you will need to think about what type of home your new pet will need, how much space it will take up, and if you have a safe place for their new home to go. You will also need to think about dietary needs, as some of the more exotic pocket pets will have a stricter diet than simply pellets from the pet store.
Some pocket pets, infamously sugar gliders, will need more interaction than others, and you will need to think about whether or not you have the time to devote to that. Finally, and most importantly, you need to consider the idea of veterinary care, if there is a vet near you who will care for your pets, and whether or not you can make potentially regular vet visits to that vet.
All pocket pets are going to need a comfortable enclosure. This can vary in size depending on the pet and its activity level, but you are always going to need an enclosure for it. Most of them cannot roam free like cats and dogs do, and the ones that can often need to be supervised in a controlled environment (as in, specifically cleaned so that the pet cannot get into trouble).
Almost all pocket pets appreciate soft bedding on the bottom of their enclosures as well, as this is often easy on their feet. Most will want some form of enrichment and interactive toy in their home. For some, this could be a wheel to run in. For others, this could be a chew toy, or something where the pet has to “work” to get the treat out of it. This will help keep your pocket pet happy and healthy.
Finding the perfect feed is important as well. You may have to do some research on what your pocket pet appreciates the most to find one that works best. You should also make sure that you set aside at least some time for your pet to play with you, or at least interact with you. Some pets are extremely affectionate, and others are more for you to watch, such as the finger-biting hamster. Interaction can also be a bonding experience for some animals. Some of the more intelligent ones, such as rats, can even benefit from training sessions and can be taught tricks.
Do keep in mind that some pocket animals are better housed in groups, as they may be prone to depression if they are left alone for too long or do not have enough interaction.
You are also going to need to make sure that you are aware of your pocket pet’s health and potential health problems. This includes researching common health conditions and what their signs are. You should also have a good idea of healthy and normal behaviors for these animals to ensure that when something goes wrong, you know when to take your pet to the vet. These are all important aspects in making sure that you give your pocket pets the life that they deserve.
What Kind of Health Do Pocket Pets Have?
Because there are so many different kinds of pocket pets out there, it is hard to gauge just how long all of them can live. Some pocket pets, unfortunately, only have a lifespan of one to three years, even in the best environments. Other pocket pets can live well over a decade when they are properly cared for.
In animals that have a short lifespan, it is important to consider how aggressively you want to pursue medical treatment. For example, would you want to put a one-year-old rat through a surgical procedure, knowing that your rat may only have a couple months of natural life left anyway? This is something you will need to consider when you are adopting a pocket pet and looking at its health.
Since many pocket pets have teeth and nails that keep on growing, it is important that you take care of this aspect of their health. More often than not, this means purchasing things that your pocket pet can chew on to wear down its teeth. Sometimes you may find suitable objects around your home that the pet could use, but there will always be store-bought variants that you can get in a pinch.
Animals that have claws that keep growing and need to be trimmed will need to have climbing materials in their homes, or else you risk letting their nails continue to grow and inhibit their walking. In a worst-case scenario, you can consider cutting your pet’s nails yourself, or more optimally, finding a trained groomer who can get the job done.
Almost all pocket pets, by nature, are prey animals. This means that they will instinctually try and hide any and every sign that there is something wrong with them, whether it is an injury or an illness. If you can, you should try to bring a pocket pet in for a yearly checkup to ensure that everything is healthy as it should be. Other than that, you should keep note of all of your pocket pet’s normal behaviors. This will help you know when these behaviors change into something that may not be quite right.
Some signs are cause for immediate concern, such as a lack of appetite, noticeable weight loss, discharge from the eyes and/or nose, silence, and anything unusual about the skin, such as lumps and bumps. These are all things you need to consider when thinking about the health of your pocket-sized pet.