Which small furry animal shall we get?

(32 Posts)
Freddiecat Tue 28-May-13 21:49:34

DD would love a small furry animal for her 9th birthday. We already have 3 elderly cats and a youngish dog but the creature would be kept ideally in her bedroom which we can keep the other animals out of. Her bedroom isn't massive but there is a chest of drawers the cage can be kept on.

We've been to Pets at Home and had a look and the choices are:
Hamster
First choice but nocturnal. They say playful in the evenings but will this be from 4pm onwards? Or are they not likely to wake up until 10pm?
Dwarf Hamster
As above really.
Gerbil
Seem livelier during the day but do they need a really deep cage for burrowing?
Degu
Very cute in the shop. Concerned they need a bigger cage and also the whole thing seems more expensive esp. as we'd have to get at least 2.
Guinea Pig
She likes these but it seems like a whole lot more work than the others. We have a garden with grass we are not precious about so could put a run outside in the summer. Really given our wet summers I wanted something indoor so she can interact with it/them daily.

Advice needed please!

VBisme Tue 28-May-13 21:53:02

I love, love, love our hamster, we're on number 2. Both gorgeous, huge personalities and (after careful handling), very affectionate.

They are up late, and could disturb if kept in a kids room at night.

Our first would be happy to get up when we got in, our second is a later riser and doesn't get up until 9ish.

Freddiecat Tue 28-May-13 21:57:51

How noisy are they at night? She thinks a rhythmic wheel turning might be quite soothing. She will say anything ATM though...

FringeEvent Tue 28-May-13 21:59:22

From your list, I've only had gerbils (a male pair).

They were ever so easy to look after, lots of fun to play with (no biting/nipping, which I understand can be a problem with hamsters).

I had a glass tank rather than a cage (this type with a few 'floors' and a mesh lid which slides off), there was absolutely no mess from digging like you might get with a cage, and it was totally cat-proof.

I've heard horrible stories about Pets At Home though (relating to the way they treat their animals for sale), and would urge you to avoid them if possible. Are there any independent pet shops near you?

adogforme Tue 28-May-13 21:59:43

Guinea pigs (you need to get a pair) They are Ashley at first but with careful gentle handling they really are wonderful pets. They wheek at you and are great indoor pets.

Freddiecat Tue 28-May-13 22:01:43

Fringe - cute pic of the cage!

Yes there are independent shops here. PAH useful for general browsing.

Myliferocks Tue 28-May-13 22:03:32

We have a cat, a hamster, a rabbit and 2 guinea pigs.
As much as I love them all the GP's do seem to be the best pets for children.
The hamster sleeps all day and only appears late evening which is fine for us adults but not so good for DD2 who is 12.
The rabbit is funny to watch and loves cuddles but can be a bit grumpy at times.
The GP's are just lovely and will quite happily sit being cuddled while watching tv of an evening although their squeaking can be quite loud at times! grin

LackaDAISYcal Tue 28-May-13 22:08:53

Our piggies live indoors, with an outdoor run for nice summer days. We have a C&C cage, which is pretty low maintenance. It's lovely having them in the house (and they are likely to live a lot longer) as we interact with them all the time whether we want to or not, the noisy little greedy gompers grin

We also had gerbils and got a gerilarium cage from P@H, deeo tank below and caged bit above. They still used to send sawdust flying evertwhere though.

I'd go for piggies over any other rodenty types as they are robust enough to be handled by small children and not wriggly if handled regularly.

But, whichever you opt for, please, please, please don't get them from P@H; look for a local breeder!

Freddiecat Tue 28-May-13 22:19:21

Thanks for the advice!

Our local Pets atHome staff seem very nice

Lancelottie Tue 28-May-13 22:25:35

Guinea pigs, while lovely, do need a vast hutch. I doubt your daughter has a 4ft wide chest of drawers (though maybe she does!) so I'd suggest gerbils. I think degus would be difficult little buggers to get right, and our only ever hamster was a bitey sort who put me off.

LackaDAISYcal Wed 29-May-13 07:18:42

The staff are lovely Freddiecat, but there is a lot of doubt over the welfare of their animals and guinea pigs (and I assume rabbits too) often come "home" already pregnant from there. You only have to browse the various rodent forums to see the concerns raised over cage sizes, recommending pairs of male rabbits, where they spource their animals from etc

Breeders will charge the same, if not cheaper than P@H and you can see the conditions in which they have been reared and meet the parent animals as well, much like you would with puppies and kittens. Many breeders will also provide follow up services like nail clipping, boarding etc.

OnceUponAThyme Wed 29-May-13 08:21:19

I think a hamster is a good starter pet. my dd is 4, and our hamster stays in her bedroom. we have a wooden wheel which is quiet, or you can get silent spinner wheels. a fully grown Syrian hamster will need an 8" wheel ideally, and a large cage to explore.
fluffball here is awake from 6:30/7pm and is very tame and has never bitten or nipped. my dd puts him in her Disney handbag and he's carried in style out to his hamster playgroundgrin
as with any animal, taming them requires patience and persistence. Syrians are easy to tame in my experience if you get them as a baby, can still be done in adulthood though. only need one to a cage, and it will introduce your dd to a furry pet in an easyish way.

fantashtic Wed 29-May-13 08:27:36

Get two rats. Honestly. Perfect pet for a 9 year old and she can interact with them so much more than a hamster. She can train them to come when they are called, do tricks etc. they will also sit on your shoulder for hours.... Tiny sweet hands... Cute and soft etc. if the tail freaks you out (as it did me at first) they totally won me over after 2 days!

everythinghippie29 Wed 29-May-13 08:52:46

Not on the list but rats make excellent pets! Intelligent, sweet, friendly and great to handle.

You would have to get two but they are relatively inexpensive and will bring years of joy and laughter. My two girls are sadly gone now but they were so sweet, knew their names and would come when called. Sugar, my first rat used to curl up next to me and brux ( purr) as I scritches her behind the ears.

I would take them over sleep all day, keep you up all night hamsters any day.

If they are not an option, I'd say guinea pigs out of the choice you have. x

everythinghippie29 Wed 29-May-13 08:53:00

X post!

LaRegina Wed 29-May-13 09:03:56

Our hamster is lovely but doesn't really get active until late at night. Our teen has it in his bedroom and it has a wooden Wonderland wheel which doesn't make a sound. But ds still has to move the cage out of his room sometimes as the hamster goes nuts in the early hours just generally banging around being very loud. Ds puts the cage in the dining room downstairs and I can still hear it in my bedroom upstairs!

LaRegina Wed 29-May-13 09:07:20

I have been told you can train hamsters into waking earlier if you get them used to being handled and fed durig the day but its not worked for us - ours just doesn't want to know until it's dark.

changeling1234 Wed 29-May-13 09:12:54

We have had three hamsters and have now progressed to a pair of gerbils. The gerbils are so much better ; more fun, no biting, play during the day and best of all no horrible smell of wee! I would never go back to having a hamster now.

PostBellumBugsy Wed 29-May-13 09:28:00

GPs are fab pets, but you really do need to have two, as they get lonely otherwise. They do need a big pen though and ideally should be kept inside as they are not keen on the cold & wet.

Lancelottie Wed 29-May-13 16:39:40

I was going to suggest rats but read the bit about the three cats and a dog. I think they'd be interested in any of the small snack-sized creatures you have in mind but the dog would go nuts over the idea of a rat.

Someone may know better than i do about this, though?

musicposy Wed 29-May-13 23:03:06

We used to have hamsters but impossible to tame and need lots of cleaning.
We've had guinea pigs and they are adorable, friendly, easily handled and full of character. However, they poo like nothing else on the planet.
The last few years we've gone in for gerbils and I have to say they are probably my favourite. They are lively, not too bad to tame and make almost zero mess. We have a converted fish tank DH made a mesh lid for. We fill it pretty deep with megazorb as they make the most amazing burrows.
Sadly we've just lost our last gerbil who was just over 3 sad. We are bereft without and have contacted a local breeder. I've bought at pets at home before but have not really been happy. Our first pair of boy gerbils fromthem had 5 babies! We ended up keeping all 7. We separated them into 3 separate cages and given that I managed to successfully sex all 7using a diagram printed off google, I was less than impressed with P @ H. Having had babies ourselves I also suspect their pets are often older than they claim.

guineapiglet Thu 30-May-13 08:36:24

Guineas are fab...but you need more than one and they need adult input so not ideal for v small kids. Lots of folk have indoor guineas but they do need alot of space and they are v allergenic so do think about whether keeping them in a bedroom would be a good option...hay can cause hayfever in some kids. We went to a local pet shop yest and i was really taken with the gerbils, they were gorgoeus and v friendly. Still hate pet shops tho' cages were v small and rabbits looked so miserable sad

Guinea pigs are lovely but not to be kept in a child's bedroom. They need loads of space.

I have a fondness for gerbils smile. I remember the school gerbils that were great fun.

GoblinGranny Thu 30-May-13 09:50:23

Guinea pigs would be my first choice, followed by a female rat. Rats are so much better tempered than most hamsters.

guineapiglet Thu 30-May-13 11:01:18

Ps I would be seriously worried about having any small furry in a house with cats.......

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