Aside from cats and dogs, there are numerous small creatures that will make a wonderful addition to your family. Here’s a brief outline of the small animal companions available.
Get started with pet rabbits
Rabbits are sociable pets and the more time you spend with them, the more friendly and tame they will become. They need lots of stimulation and interaction, as well as time out of their hutch to exercise.Average cost of a pet rabbit
There are many different breeds of rabbits in New Zealand and Australia, including the Dwarf Lop, NZ White, French Angora and Flemish Giant. Prices can range from $10 - $100.How many rabbits?
Rabbits can become aggressive when they reach sexual maturity and may have to be separated. Speak to your pet shop or breeder before purchasing. A guinea pig makes a good companion for a lone female or neutered male rabbit.Setting up
These pets need a good-sized hutch or cage, and the bigger the better. Rabbits require sturdy feeding bowls, a water bottle and toys. Plus, it’s recommended that male rabbits be neutered.Rabbit bedding
Untanalised wood shavings, hay or shredded newspaper.Rabbit food
Unlimited access to good-quality hay (lucerne or clover), a large selection of greens and vegetables and a small amount of rabbit mix or pellets.Handling your pet rabbit
Never pick up rabbits by their ears! Hold them firmly while keeping in mind that they have powerful hind legs.Lifespan of a pet rabbit
Getting started with pet guinea pigs
Also known as cavies, guinea pigs originally hail from South America. Slower and larger than rats and mice, these creatures make ideal first pets for younger children. Guinea pigs can be very shy and scare easily, so be gentle.Average cost of pet guinea pigs
There are many short-haired and long-haired varieties and prices range from $5 - $30How many guinea pigs?
Two is ideal. A same-sex pair from the same litter, or mother/daughter or father/son.Setting up home
These pets need a good-sized hutch or cage. Like rabbits, sturdy feeding bowls and a water bottle are hutch essentials.Guinea pig bedding
Untanalised wood shavings, hay or shredded newspaper.Guinea pig food
Guinea pig pellets containing vitamin C, which they can’t produce for themselves, supplemented daily with fresh vegetables cut into chunks, as these little pets don’t use their paws for picking up food. Never feed them rabbit pellets. Plenty of fresh hay should also be part of their diet.Handling your pet guinea pig
Use both hands and keep the guinea pig close to your body. Be very careful not to drop your pet and never pick it up by the scruff of its neck.Lifespan of guinea pigs
Getting started with pet rats
Rats are highly intelligent, loving and very entertaining. Try not to overlook these little pets just because of their tails! Never put house rats in with mice as they will eat their smaller cousins!Average cost of pet rats
Prices range from $10 - $40How many rats?
A same-sex pair.Setting up home
It’s important for the cage to have decent ventilation, and be large enough for the rats to run around and play. It's also essential to use the right kind of bedding. Use a water bottle, not a bowl, as rats tend to play in their bowls. Don’t overcrowd the cage but rotate safe toys to avoid boredom.Bedding for pet rats
Pine and cedar wood-chip beddings damage a rat’s respiratory tract, causing chronic respiratory disease and asthma. Safe shredded wood-chip bedding can be found at most pet shops or use shredded newspaper.Pet rat food
Rat and mice pellets/feed supplemented with lab blocks, fresh fruit and vegetables. Cooked chicken bones are a good choice because rats gnaw rather than chew, so there’s no chance of choking.Handling your pet rat
They enjoy being handled and love to play and explore. Never grab them by the tail.Lifespan of rats
2-3 and half years.
Getting started with pet mice
Mice are adorable, but they can have a strong mouse smell so clean the cage frequently. You can make a tunnel for your pet using paper-towel or toilet-paper tubes.Average cost of pet mice
Prices range from $2 - $20How many mice?
A pair of females is the easiest, although a pair of males can work if they are litter mates, are never separated, and are given a large enough cage that they can have their own space. Keeping males and females together should be avoided unless you want lots of mice in a short amount of time!Setting up home
Mice will appreciate a tall cage with multiple levels as they like to climb. They also require a nest box, running wheel, toys, water bottle and shallow food bowl.Bedding for pet mice
A safe shredded wood-chip bedding can be found at most pet shops or use shredded newspaper. Hay can also be used.Pet mouse food
Mice pellets/feed supplemented with oats, sunflower seeds, commercial treat sticks, fresh fruits and vegetables.Handling your pet mouse
Do not pick them up by their tails and get to know your pet by hand-feeding it.Lifespan of mice
1 and a half-3 years.