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Pocket-Sized Pals: The World of Small Pets

What is a Pocket Pet?

A pocket pet can typically be described as a tiny, on-the-go, pocket-sized furry friend that might love to snuggle in your shirt or pant pocket. There are many different types of small pets to own, and can be a great addition to any family. However, just like any other pet, they have unique needs including housing and dietary requirements. You’ll want to research pet or feed stores that cater to your specific type of small pet. Some pocket-pets have a lengthy lifespan, so do as much research as possible to be 100% certain you’re prepared to commit to caring for your little friend properly for years to come.

For anyone interested in keeping little animals for pets, there are a few essential questions to consider when researching:

  • What type of accommodations will the pet require?
  • What are the specific dietary needs?
  • How much exercise and interaction do pocket pets need?
  • When will the pocket pet be most active?
  • What type of veterinary care will the pet need?

Types of Small Pets & Their Needs

In the United States, some of the most popular small pets to own are rats, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, chinchillas, ferrets, and sugar gliders.

Rats – When you first hear “rat,” you probably don’t think of keeping these little animals for pets. However, they are quite intelligent and surprisingly clean creatures. Their docile demeanor can make them an excellent fit for families with children. They’ll need a large, wire cage with multiple-level platforms for all of their climbing and exercise needs, as well as a hammock or nesting box for them to cozy up in during nap time. They primarily eat commercially formulated pellets along with the occasional fresh fruits and vegetables as treats.

Guinea Pigs – These are some of the more social types of small pets, and they don’t require much more than a well-ventilated wire cage topped with bedding or a soft towel. They eat mostly hay grass and a controlled amount of species-specific pellets. Additionally, vitamin C-rich foods like kale and bell peppers may be recommended by your veterinarian as they do not produce enough vitamin C independently. It’s also essential to provide wooden blocks or treats to chew on to prevent their teeth from overgrowth.

Hedgehogs – These prickly creatures may not make the best pocket pets per se, but they’re still great to have at home nonetheless. They’re shy and often like to hide and burrow. They typically prefer little human handling, and they need a large wire cage lined with bedding. As insectivore-omnivores, they’ll enjoy a mealworm or cricket and pellet combo for dinner with occasional fruits and vegetables as snacks. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) states that due to their sharp spines, hedgehogs must be sedated for veterinary exams when they receive wellness checks, teeth cleaning, and nail trimming.

Chinchillas – Although very shy and quiet, they often do well when housed with another chinchilla. They’re nocturnal, so they typically sleep through the day just like rats, so a hammock or nesting box is ideal. For diet, much like guinea pigs, they consume mostly hay with a controlled amount of pellets. One unique thing about these types of small pets is that they need dust baths weekly. You’ll need to provide a tray or short box filled with chinchilla dust – made to absorb dirt and oils from their fur. Volcanic dust works wonders, and it’s quite a sight to see them tossing their little bodies around in it!

Ferrets – These furry fellas are very sociable animals and can make great pets, especially if socialized and handled well from a young age. They’re very smart, fast learners, and have personality traits similar to those of cats and dogs. They’re fairly low maintenance, just like cats and can also be trained to use a litter box. They love to roam and climb so a multi-level cage or open space would be best. They also love a soft place to snooze so providing extra cushion or a hammock is perfect.

Sugar Gliders – These are highly social, nocturnal creatures, so they should be housed in groups. If they aren’t receiving adequate interaction with people or other sugar gliders, they can become depressed or develop unwanted behaviors. They require a tall, wire cage filled with branches and various levels for their roaming and flying needs. Just like hedgehogs, they love their insects – but despite their sweet name, avoid feeding any sweet treats or large amounts of fruit.

These are just a few of the many awesome small pets to own. Gerbils, mice, and hamsters are a few more among the best pocket pets to consider. When it comes to welcoming one of these tiny creatures into your home, it’s essential to have a veterinary resource familiar with pocket-sized and exotic animals and their care.

Check out our locations that treat Pocket Pets to find one near you: 

The sooner you learn the basic care necessities for these pets, the sooner your front pocket can be occupied by your new best pal!


Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately

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