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View Full Version : Which small critter for me?



Blackrose
08-27-2007, 02:24 PM
As three of my small critters (a Guinea Pig, and two Hamsters) are becoming older, I've been researching different small animals so when the time comes that I want to get another one, I'll know what I want.

I'm looking for something that I've never owned before as I want to "try something new". Bad analogy, but oh well. I don't necessarly want something exotic, but just new to me.

I have two different types of criteria that would be a good match for me. But, sadly, there are no "small animal" selectors like there were when I was burying myself in research about what breed of dog would fit into my life.

In about three years I will be moving out of the house and into my own apartment. I will be in college until I'm 26. Currently, I'm a senior in highschool. Moving out with me will be my puppy (who will then be an adult) and my two ferrets. Depending on whether or not my ferrets live to the higher end of their average lifespan, it may just be me and the dog (she is a Collie/Aussie mix, if she gets bigger than 40lbs I'll be shocked, and she gets along well with other small animals once she realizes I'm not going to let her eat them).

Keeping all of this in mind, here is the criteria that I've come up with:
1. Must be legal in the state of Indiana (if considering an exotic pet)
2. Small to medium in size. Nothing bigger than house cat.
3. Social
4. Doesn't require a hard to come by, super expensive diet
5. Must be able to live in an apartment and/or a large room
6. Upkeep won't cost more than a small dog (or two ferrets. :) )
7. Something with a medium lifespan - around four years being the minimum, but nothing that is going to out live me (like a parrot).
8. Preferably not completely nocturnal.
9. Can preferably be litter box trained

After those eight basic criteria, things get a little fuzzy and is where I'm open to different possibilities. Here are the two sets of ending criteria:

Option number one:
10. Would be able to handle being in a cage all day (if cage isn't small).
11. Calm
12. While being able to not go bonkers if kept in a cage, will also be cuddly and friendly with handling.

Option number two:
10. Can have out of cage time each day
11. MUST be able to co-exist with a dog and/or ferrets (supervised, of course)
12. MUST be able to be litterbox trained (or be taught to not poop all over the floor)
13. MUST not be any more destructive than a ferret
14. Nothing that needs more social interaction than a dog.

I realize those are some "picky" criteria, and I also realize that I may have already exhausted all of the options when it comes to what kind of pet suits my lifestyle. If this is the case, I'll happily stick to my Ferrets, but I wanted to look around anyway.

Two animals that have caught my eye are both exotics. One is the Short Tailed Opossum (Option one) and the other is the Fennec Fox (Option Two).
The STO is what I'm leaning towards, and I can't find any good info on Fennec Foxes.

If anyone has any thoughts, please feel free to share. So sorry his was such a long post, but it took a lot to get my thoughts organized. LOL

IRescue452
08-27-2007, 04:41 PM
It's likely a fennec fox is illegal in your area. If not, then probably in your building. Fennecs require as much socialization and human care as a puppy, their entire lives. They can be destructive, males spray and all fennecs dig wherever they can, including carpet. They are nocturnal by nature as well. Honestly, I think they shouldn't be pets.

STO are like slightly larger gerbils. I don't think one will be as cuddely as you want. They certainly can't be out playing with the dog or ferrets. They have a little more demanding dietary needs than your average rodent pet.

You'll need to also find a vet that treats exotics if you got one, before you got one. This can be more expensive than a dog or cat vet.

KBlaix
08-27-2007, 05:13 PM
Have you considered a pair of rats? What about a reptile, maybe a Leopard Gecko?

Blackrose
08-27-2007, 05:56 PM
It's likely a fennec fox is illegal in your area. If not, then probably in your building. Fennecs require as much socialization and human care as a puppy, their entire lives. They can be destructive, males spray and all fennecs dig wherever they can, including carpet. They are nocturnal by nature as well. Honestly, I think they shouldn't be pets.

Thank you for saying this. As I said, I hadn't been able to find information on them, so it was more of an attraction than anything. I found an informative website and have crossed them off of my "thinking about" list. And to tell you the truth, taking a wild animal and keeping it as a pet, unless they are tying to domesticate it, bugs me as well. Espeically when people just buy them for status symbols or because they are cute and then don't understand why their pet is acting like a wild animal.


STO are like slightly larger gerbils. I don't think one will be as cuddely as you want. They certainly can't be out playing with the dog or ferrets. They have a little more demanding dietary needs than your average rodent pet.
If the pet is able to stay in a cage except when I'm handling it, then it won't be around my other animals. But if the animal needed extensive out of cage time, then it would have to share the floor with the pup and the ferts.
From what I've read about their diets, they require meal worms (or wax worms, maybe?) along with fresh fruit and veggies. That isn't very much different than suplementing my Guinea Pig's and Cockatiel's diet.


You'll need to also find a vet that treats exotics if you got one, before you got one. This can be more expensive than a dog or cat vet.
Another thing that I had over looked. However, I did some searching, and there is an exotic vet about twenty minutes away from me. They treat ferrets, birds, cats, and other "exotic" animals.


Have you considered a pair of rats? What about a reptile, maybe a Leopard Gecko?
Actually, I haven't looked into rats. Thanks for the suggestion. I've always thought they were cute, but my mom is the kind of person who yells, "OMG, a rat, kill it!" :rolleyes: I just looked up a bit about them and read a very small discription of them and they sound interesting.

I'd rather stay away from reptiles. I like them, but I'm more of a mammal person. I've just have no urge to own one.

IRescue452
08-27-2007, 08:10 PM
STO apparently have a problem drinking from water bottles as youngsters and often get a mash of fruits to help them get their water intake. There is food specific to opossums online which would make up most of its diet, but I don't see it being sold in stores anytime in the near future.

You'd really enjoy rats. They are very smart and fun to interact with. They are also much more easier to care for than exotics. I think you'll find that once you are out on your own, you'll have less time and energy for all the pets that you'd love to have right now. Life changes, keep this in mind and wait a little while after you move to decide if the time is right for more pets.

Chilli
08-27-2007, 08:20 PM
I was going to suggest rats, aswell. :)
http://i147.photobucket.com/albums/r310/CheckAgain/dose08.png
Afterall, how could you resist the little guys?

I have eight at the moment, and couldn't ask for a more rewarding rodent. My boys are very cuddly and affectionate.. the girls like to just do more of their own thing. All of them are very smart. If you have any specific questions, just say so. I'll be happy to throw in any advice.

Argranade
08-27-2007, 08:53 PM
How about a Hedgehog?

There really cute and easy to take care of, they come in different colours.

Life span from 4 to 6 years.

Here's a link of information.

http://oror.essortment.com/hedgehogpet_reqk.htm

There's also sugar gliders (nocturnal) and chinchillas.

jesse_3
08-27-2007, 10:29 PM
I have a hedgehog, Kokomo, and she is great! You have to be careful though, you want to meet your hedgehog BEFORE you say you designate yourself to keeping it. They all have very different personalities, and some are not what I would call cuddly. If you take care of them really well, I have heard of some living up to ten years also...

Genny
08-27-2007, 11:45 PM
Hey, Hedge Hogs are neat animals; I use to have one, but they aren't too cuddly if you're wanting an animal that likes to be loved and hugged on :D

I have NEVER had a fox of any kind and I don't know anyone that has. That would be a big challenge to own one of those. It would be really neat, but way more than I would want to handle right now! Besides it would probably be illegal :eek:

Sugar Gliders are very cute and sweet. My nephews had one for several years until it died and it was gentle and liked to be held most of the time.

But I'd say a rat sounds like a good choice for you. They seem to fit everything you said you wanted in a pet just about. I use to have one and he was really neat. Everyone here that has them seems to really be crazy about them. Plus they don't HAVE to be out with you ALL the time, especially if you get 2.

I thought about maybe a rabbit? Or do you want something a little more exotic than that!

jackie
08-28-2007, 06:54 AM
Chinchilla!

mousie
08-28-2007, 07:50 AM
I have two ratties at the moment and absolutely love them. I really do think you should look into rats :)

inlovewithanimals
08-28-2007, 11:42 AM
what about a sugar glider or even a mouse??


Justin

IRescue452
08-28-2007, 04:01 PM
Don't sugar gliders do best in groups?

Genny
08-28-2007, 04:10 PM
IRescue452
Don't sugar gliders do best in groups?

I think they do ok without another one. Any that I've ever seen as pets have always been without another of the same kind. but I'm not sure.

Blackrose
08-28-2007, 04:40 PM
Thank you all for the suggestions.


Life changes, keep this in mind and wait a little while after you move to decide if the time is right for more pets.
I am most definitally keeping this in mind. It is just going to be so weird after I move out because I'm going to be going from almost ten pets to one (or three if my ferts are still around - in three years Casey will be 6 and Dameon will be 5. That's old for a ferret). From my viewpoint, if I can handle ten critters, with five of them being high matinence animals, as well as highschool, work, and basketball, then having two during college wouldn't be too challenging. Whenever I'm fully confident about the amount of care I can give an animal, I'm rarely wrong.


If you must have an exotic animal to show off to your friends please adopt a Furby; they can't die of loneliness, or starve.
Okay, this quote from that hedgehog article made me laugh. LOL I must say that Furbies make excellent pets, and if you think they can't starve, you've never had to listen to one say, "Feed me! I'm hungry!" over and over again. And mine was a very big talker in the "Ah, me scared" department when left in the dark. LOL :p They are also a good watch pet - just set it in front of the door and if someone comes in it will wake up with a happy "Cockadoodledoo! Sun up!"


How about a Hedgehog?
I breifly thought about that, but from what I've read, they don't seem like an "interactive" pet. I must admit what turned me off was when an article about them said they tended to be "grumpy".


I thought about maybe a rabbit? Or do you want something a little more exotic than that!
I don't know if a rabbit is my cup of tea. I thought about it breifly (I LOVE Holland Lops :) ) but I guess I don't know enough about them. I cared for a school rabbit over winter break, but that wasn't a good experience because it wasn't tame, kicked all of the time, and was in WAY to small of a cage.


Chinchilla!
Too spastic for me. I've been around a couple and they are cute, but they are so HYPER! Like a giant Gerbil. lol


what about a sugar glider or even a mouse??
I also thought about a mouse, but their lifespan is so short. :( Granted they are cheap, but I wouldn't want to get attached to a cute little mouse and then have it die on me a year later.

Sugar Gliders I'm still poking around with. I've read that if you can't devote three hours with them each evening or night then you shouldn't get one, and I wouldn't be able to devote to that kind of neediness and also spend time with my dog. I've also read that they can't be litterboxed trained, so letting one run around a room for a while wouldn't be good as I'd find poop and pee everywhere afterwards.


Does anyone know of any good Rattie links? I'm going to google about them, but any favorite links would be helpful.

Suki Wingy
08-28-2007, 06:26 PM
Rats are wonderfull. My dad used to breed them as pets but my brother has become incresingly allergic and his meds drastically change his behaviour so my dad's adopting out all the rats. Here's the national registry
http://www.afrma.org/
Here's some basic info:
http://www.altpet.net/rodents/rats/ratfaq.html

Argranade
08-28-2007, 07:17 PM
Don't sugar gliders do best in groups?
Sometimes, but they can do great alone as long as you give them enough attention. A sugar glider I had named Billie was a great pet, I spent 2 to 3 hours every night with him and the rest of the time while I was sleeping I would let him run around my room all night, my room is very secure so there was no possible way for him to get out. When my friend took Billie in she had another female sugar glider, well Billie killed her sugar glider ripping her apart. Usualy sugar gliders do well together but I geuss Billie was not like that sadly.

There's also those excotic mice that look like kangaroo's,

Also have you heard of Richardson Ground Squierls?

Oh there's also small birds lol, you can buy hand fed finches in beautiful colours, they'll follow you around and can live from 5 to 10 years old depending on the breed and how well it's taken care of, not loud and easy to afford, they just need a small cage, a few toys, seeds and water. If you want you can pair 2 together.

You can buy excotic finches.

Blackrose
08-29-2007, 03:27 PM
Also have you heard of Richardson Ground Squierls?
I've heard them mentioned once, but nothing really after that. What are they?


Oh there's also small birds lol, you can buy hand fed finches in beautiful colours, they'll follow you around and can live from 5 to 10 years old depending on the breed and how well it's taken care of, not loud and easy to afford, they just need a small cage, a few toys, seeds and water. If you want you can pair 2 together.
I was wanting a mammal, but I'll keep that in mind if I ever decide that I want a birdie that isn't as high maitenence as a Tiel. :) I love how the finches look - and they sound like the birds off of the short film before "Monsters' Inc." LOL


Thank you for the links Suki. Rats sound awsome. :)

Christmas_Hamster
08-29-2007, 05:51 PM
If your thinking rats may I suggest the website www.goosemoose.com I need to go and wasn't able to read the whole topic so I am sorry if this has already been posted.

Blackrose
08-30-2007, 04:07 PM
I think I've finally decided on what I want to get, unless something just really pops out at me or I stumble across something new. Rats. :)

Thank you all for your help and if anyone has anything else to add, still feel free to!

Hellow
08-30-2007, 11:17 PM
Here is an great article about care for rats: http://ratguide.com/care/

Blackrose
08-31-2007, 01:49 PM
I talked to some STO owners on the internet the other day and they gave me some advice about them, and also a breeder's name and a petstore's name that sells them, so I'm not going to completely rule them out yet.

I think I'm going to stop by the petstore and see the STOs, just to get a feel for them.

I know for a fact that my mom wouldn't allow me to own a Rattie while I'm still living here, it may be where I buy an STO while I'm still here, and then when I move out and get my own place I'll buy some Ratties. :)

I don't know though. I'm going to do a little bit more digging around with both and see what I'll decide.

Suki Wingy
09-02-2007, 12:03 AM
Good choice. :) Every time I come on here and see someone who's researching throughly about which animal is best for them I get really happy. I am so sick of the usually irrisponsible pet owners that when someone responsible comes around I just have to smile.

Blackrose
09-02-2007, 07:20 PM
I know for a fact that my mom wouldn't allow me to own a Rattie while I'm still living here,
I stand corrected. I brought up the idea to her and she just gave me a look. It was the same look when I said, "On Saturday I'm getting a second Ferret." (Which turned out to be Dameon.) It means she isn't happy with it, but she'll go along with it.

I was thinking the other day about the STOs, and the only problem that I would have with them is they need a humid climate (around 75-80%) or they get all sorts of health problems. Generally not a problem, but it would be housed in my room and over the winter it is so cold (and in the summer it is so hot. :rolleyes: ). I would be scared I wouldn't be able to keep the humidity level for them right, and I don't have a place to plug in a humidifier. I'd have to have the cage on my desk and that means the ferrets would be apt to climb it and terrify the thing.

So because of that, Ratties are now taking the #1 position. I spent some time with Freddie and Bonnie last night and they aren't faring well. Freddie has major bald patches on him and isn't as active, and Bonnie is having trouble walking. I'm predicting by the end of the year they won't be around any longer. :(

Christmas Ratties, anyone? :)

Now, I have a question. Rats need to eat a certain diet (Lab Blocks? Is that right?). Where can I buy that at? I looked at Petsmart, but they just had the seed mixes. I read somewhere that Ratties could also eat a high quality dog food (the example given was Senior Innova) and I do have access to that.
And I'd be planning on getting two Ratties. Can someone give me a rough outline of the expense needed to "start them up" and then the general amount in upkeep?

Thanks so much! :)

Genny
09-02-2007, 08:06 PM
sorry, but what does STO mean??? I've just been wondering :D

IRescue452
09-02-2007, 08:33 PM
STO= short-tailed oppossum

Ratties need variety moreso than a staple food. I give mine a little cat food, lab blocks from petsupplies plus (but I really hate Kaytee brands), and a seed mix as their dry staple right now. The seed mix is really for my mice, but the rats like some. They also get leftovers from our own meals; chicken, pasta, veggies, eggs. Anything that doesn't have much in the way of sugar and isn't completely made of processed goo.

The lab blocks cost $1.20/lb and a lb lasts a while. My mice go through more than both rats. Its hard to really estimate the price of things because I put my own dried peas, oats, and non-sugared cereals into the mix.

The cage is a big parrot cage from a thrift store for $10. Only one door and the bottom lifts off. Nothing too complicated because I don't want them finding out how to free themselves.

I use kiln-dried pine as bedding. America's Choice brand from the horse supply store (enough at a time for a horse stall). It costs me $4 for 7 square feet. I almost bought the walmart brand once and it smelt extra piney for lack of better words. I put it back because after 5 minutes of holding the bag, my arms broke out in a rash. It turns out that sometimes the chips aren't dried properly and that can really be bad, so you do have to be careful. I prefer wood over carefresh for mice and rats though because I think carefresh is more likely to give them respiratory infection.

I only have an igloo, the wood perch bars, and a little hammock for accessories in their cage. Rats aren't prone to playing with toys. They are like cats: the more money you spend on it, the less they want it. They ignore the big rat-sized wheel I have for my mice to play on during out of cage time for mice. They flip the igloo over instead of sleeping in it. When out of their cage, I'm the toy. They love to climb on me. They also like to tunnel in my blankets. They chew on clothing and slippers and towels when I'm not paying enough attention to them.

The only other thing I have for them is a brick and a ceramic tile. The brick so they can where down their nails a little in the cage. The tile so on hot days I can put it in the freezer and give it to them cold to lay on. Rats don't do above 80F well.

As an initial investment for two rats, I probably only spent $35. The cage is what can break the bank though and I got that cheap. The last thing I bought was a plastic tub to set the cage in so they don't kick bedding out.

Suki Wingy
09-02-2007, 11:12 PM
Make sure if you want a sociable pet to get them young or from someone who's raised them since they were small. There is a huge difference. My brother holds his since their eyes open and they all LOVE people. If they've been riding on your shoulder for an hour and you put them back in their cage and come back 5 minutes later they'll do anything they can to crawl back up your arm and sit with you. We had a couple of himi girls that figured out how to twist open the little circle thingy on the top of the terrarium and get out.

Blackrose
09-03-2007, 01:06 PM
I'm going to look around to see who/what around here has rats availible. I won't be getting some for another couple of months so I'm in no rush. There is a rat rescue in Ohio that does transports to other states (Indiana included). That will be my main focus. There is a local feed depot (where I bought my ferrets) and they take wonderful care of their animals and if they have ratties, I'll look there. Petsmart doesn't handle their animals, so while they have Ratties on occasion, they would be wild things.


Ratties need variety moreso than a staple food. I give mine a little cat food, lab blocks from petsupplies plus (but I really hate Kaytee brands), and a seed mix as their dry staple right now.
I was given a good link for a homemade seed mix, so that is most likely what I'll use as the mixture. I looked at what Petsmart has availible again and not under rat foods ( :rolleyes: ) they had the Katee Forti-Diet blocks, and this Mazuri block food. Unless Buckles carries any block foods, that will be what I'll have to choose from. Here is the Mazuri's ingredients:

Ingredients: dehulled soybean meal, ground corn, ground wheat, wheat middlings, soybean oil, cane molasses, fish meal, ground oats, porcine meat meal, dehydrated alfalfa meal, dried beet pulp, wheat germ, brewers dried yeast, calcium carbonate, salt, dried whey, dicalcium phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium propionate (a preservative), ground soybean hulls, menadione dimethylpyrimidinol bisulfite (vitamin K), animal fat preserved with BHA, choline chloride, corn gluten meal, dried yucca shidigera extract, DL-methionine, cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), vitamin A acetate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, d-alpha tocopheryl acetate (natural source vitamin E), thiamin mononitrate, folic acid, nicotinic acid, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12), manganous oxide, zinc oxide, ferrous carbonate, copper sulfate, zinc sulfate, calcium iodate, cobalt carbonate.

Guaranteed analysis: crude protein (min.) 23%, crude fat (min.) 6.5%, crude fiber (max.) 4%, ash (max.) 8%, vitamin E (min.) 25 IU/lb.
I know that the corn and the alfalfa meal isn't good.....but is everything else okay? I figured this brand would be the lesser of two evils as it has soybean meal as the first ingredient.

If not, would I be able to feed them that homemade seed mixture along with some high quality dog food (Innova Senior)?

IRescue452
09-03-2007, 01:49 PM
That's about as good as it gets with lab blocks

Christmas_Hamster
09-03-2007, 04:52 PM
I feed my rats and now my (fat) mouse mazuri and they are doing fine on it!

Blackrose
09-03-2007, 07:07 PM
That's about as good as it gets with lab blocks

I feed my rats and now my (fat) mouse mazuri and they are doing fine on it!
Okay, thanks!