Before adopting a small pet, read this.

By Patricia Durocher • 25 January 2021

You’ll be surprised to learn everything you need to know before adopting a small pet.

Exotic pets, small pets, means pets other than dogs and cats. These include rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, reptiles and small rodents. Before adopting one of these animals, you need to find out all you can about it:

1. Does the animal live during the day or at night?

Nothing is more exhausting than a hamster rolling around in its cage in your child’s bedroom at night! Knowing in advance that the hamster is an animal that prefers to live at night, you’ll be able to think of a better place to house it.

2 – Does the animal prefer to live alone or in a group?

Guinea pigs and rats are much happier when they live in pairs or groups. It’s important to think about this to better assess the size of the environment and the care required.

3 – What size cage should I buy?

Each exotic animal has its own specific behaviours, such as digging, jumping, hiding, climbing, running and so on. A rabbit that needs a lot of space to run around will be happiest in a large enclosure or free range, while a rat will benefit most from a cage with several levels and hiding places.

4 What does this animal eat?

Did you know that giving too many carrots can be harmful to rabbits? Did you know that guinea pigs need vitamin C supplements? Each species has its own diet, and it’s very important to respect it, to keep your pet healthy. Just because our animal eats a food doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for him. By the way, rats are real gourmets who’ll eat anything, even pizza!

5 How many years can it live?

We want to give our 8-year-old daughter an Easter bunny? Will she still want it when she’s 18? From a hamster’s life expectancy of 2-3 years to some parrots’ sixty years, longevity can be a very important factor to consider before adopting.

6 – Will my pet require special care?

First of all, veterinarians specializing in exotic animals are in short supply. So it’s a good idea to find out where the nearest specialist is located. Some animals, like mice, don’t require much veterinary care. For some, you’ll need to be vigilant about teeth growth, neutering, claw trimming, lice etc. Like all animals, they are living beings and can also fall ill!

7 Finally, probably the most important question: what is this animal’s temperament?

Choosing a hamster because it takes up little space, or a chinchilla because it’s gentle, are certainly serious mistakes. You need to read up on their behavior and, if possible, get to know a few of them before making the leap to adoption.

This is a brief summary, as each little beast has its own world. If you want to adopt, the best advice would be to find out beforehand. Choose an animal that suits you and be curious about it. You’ll see that despite their small size, these animals have wonderful personalities and amaze us every day.


Proud mother of the late Timbit the hamster and foster mother of Canelle the rat and her 11 babies, as well as of the wonderful rabbit Iris aka the pig’s head.



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