15 Rodents You Can Keep as Pets

Pets have become an essential part of many households. It’s a pet-loving world out here, and there’s a vast range of rodents you can keep as pets. While some are social and easy to tame, others are shy.

A few are diurnal, while many are more active at night.  From tiny animals like hamsters, gerbils to larger animals like guinea pigs, we’ve listed 15 rodents you can keep as pets in your home.

1. Hamsters

Hamsters are soft, cute, and fluffy rodents usually kept as pets. They are characterized by short tails, sturdy limbs, and small hairy ears. Having 24 different species, hamsters are of various colors, sizes, and temperaments.

The European breed is considered one of the largest species measuring up to 14 inches long. Just like its name, dwarf hamsters are small, growing up to 2-4 inches in length. The most popular pet hamster is the Syrian hamster, also known as the teddy bear hamster or golden hamster.

Hamsters are nocturnal and territorial in nature. They feed on substances such as grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, cracked corn, and vegetables.

2. Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs, also known as Cavies, make lovely pets. The sociable pocket animals communicate by producing various sounds with different meanings. They make a quiet yet audible vibrating sound when they’re excited or pampered.

They purr like cats, squeal, rumble, and grind their teeth when they’re angry or upset. While most hamsters live up to three years, guinea pigs can live up to ten years.

Requiring hay, fresh water, fresh vegetables, a small amount of pelleted food, and daily intake of Vitamin C supplements, guinea pigs are relatively easy to handle.

Looking for that friendly and easily tamed pet to welcome into your home? Guinea pigs are good choices of pets!

3. Mongolian Gerbils

Another small, furry animal kept as pets in most households is the gerbil. Just like hamsters, gerbils are inexpensive and easy to care for. With over 90 species of gerbils worldwide, Mongolian gerbils are the most popular ones kept in homes as pets.

The burrowing animals have light greyish abdomen and pale brown fur. Mongolian gerbils are smaller than guinea pigs and hamsters, with body lengths under 5 inches.

The female breed is small compared to the male ones, with tails matching their tiny physiques’ lengths. They mainly feed on plant matter, roots, seeds, buds, bulbs, and grains.

4. Fat-Tailed Gerbils

Suitable for all ages, fat-tailed gerbils make fine pets for homes. They are easy to maintain but need a lot of love and attention. Their diet includes pellets, seeds, fresh fruits, and veggies.

Also known as duprasi gerbil, these little mammals are docile, good-natured with a longer lifespan than the Mongolian breed. The pocket pets are about 4 inches long with slightly flat bodies and natural color. Fat-tailed gerbils are diurnal, enjoy solitude, and spend ample time grooming their fur and washing their faces.

5. Persian Jirds

Similar to Mongolian gerbils, Persian Jirds are attractive animals with graceful moves. They are mostly kept as pets in the UK and Europe.

Measuring about 6 inches with brush tipped tail and a slightly long body, these rodents are nocturnal and feel safe once they’re settled in an environment. With large eyes and ears sensitive to noise, Persian jirds are good climbers and hoarders of food.

6. Fancy Rats

These are the most common species of rat bred as pets. The friendly and independent mammals are easily tamed and maintained, unlike cats and dogs. Compared to hamsters, fancy rats rarely bite, are sturdier, and moves swiftly.

They come in various colors, coat types, and markings. Unlike other small pets, fancy rats are quite affordable and easy to care for provided quality research is being carried out. Hale and hearty rats can live up to 3 years. Many rat enthusiasts around the globe raise this particular species of rats.

7. Naked Mole Rats

The burrowing rodents possess some physical characteristics which allow them to thrive in an unfavorable environment.

Naked mole rats have low metabolic and respiratory rates with low sensitivity to pain. They are known for their longevity and feed largely on tubers.

8. Fancy Mice

Usually, fancy mice live up to 1-2 years, but some can live for about three years. They make great beginner pets for adults and teenagers. These little mammals are low-maintenance and fun to watch.

Fancy mice are known for their friendly acts and inquisitive nature. It’s best to house them in glass aquariums and wire cages. Grains, vegetables, and fresh fruits like apples and carrots are ideal foods for fancy mice.

The small animals are swift, skittish, and easy to tame if handled well. Though they require much space as hamsters, you must provide them with enough space for their comfort and health.

9. Common Degus

Playful and curious best describe the nature of this rodent. Being diurnal makes it a great pet for families. When handled at an early age, they can be easily tamed like hedgehogs and other wild rodents.

Common degus communicate with pet owners through chitter-chatter sounds. Most times, when they feel threatened or stressed, they release high-pitched screeches.

Hand trained ones will likely meet you for belly scratches or cuddles. They’re avid chewers, consuming food high in roughage and low carbohydrate.

10. Chinchillas

Chinchillas are quiet, cuddly, and attractive animals bred as pets. Due to the continuous growth of teeth throughout life, these popular pets require extensive dental care and exercise.

Though they don’t like being held, they can become used to pet owners with time.

The small rodents are usually active at night and do not like being disturbed during the day. Chinchillas get stressed quickly when exposed to noise and activity within their living space. Their average lifespan is between 10-20 years.

11. Sugar Glider

Sugar glider belong to the same family as the kangaroo or koala bear. The name “sugar glider” is coined from the rodent’s love for sweet things and the presence of a gliding membrane that passes through their wrist to ankle.

When properly taken care of, they can live up to 12-15 years, just like most cats and dogs.

Having the same intelligence as dogs, they can learn their name and do tricks when fully trained. Sugar gliders measure about 6 ounces and are about 5-7 inches in length.

12. Chipmunks

The adorable look and behavior of chipmunks make them lovely pets for animal lovers. It is natural for you to want to cuddle them due to their harmless nature. Except tamed from birth, chipmunks may likely bite you when you touch them.

They come in different colors: greys, browns, and reddish-browns with many stripes down their back and on their cheeks. These small members possess good grooming habits; thus, they can clean up after themselves.

Although chipmunks can live alone, they can be paired in groups with a male and two females.

13. Lemming

Lemming is a lovely pet to keep. The plump, light-grey rodent feeds on shoots, grasses, leaves, amongst other vegetation. Their thick, coarse fur help them withstand harsh weather conditions.

They have stout bodies, short limbs, tiny ears, and tails, which enable them to store heat. Though they live in colonies, lemmings are solitary animals that enjoy living alone.

Like several rodents, these short-tailed rodents are highly prolific such that their population fluctuates every four years.

14. Agouti

Agoutis are often bred as exotic pets. Their behavior varies from species to species. While some are solitary, others live in pairs or small groups. Their diet is composed mainly of fruits, seeds, and vegetables.

Agoutis have been seen eating shellfish, insects, and eggs, thus making them omnivorous. Relative to guinea pigs, these species are larger and have long legs. They come in various colors like brown, red, dull orange, grey, or black with lighter underbellies.

15. Squirrel

Among the various squirrel species, the flying squirrel is the best pet to keep in your home. The lovely mammal bonds well with their owner and even people they aren’t familiar with.

Having distinct physical features like side membranes and gliding ability, flying squirrels are wonderful pets to own. While it’s illegal in some states to keep squirrels as pets, others require license and wildlife rehabilitator training.

Reasons to Choose a Rodent as Pet

Rodents rank amongst the easiest pets to maintain and make a perfect choice for families who are not ready to take care of dogs or cats. Their size and cage type make them an inexpensive or easier pet-keeping option.

Compared to other pets, rodents breed more easily and prolifically, creating large litters. For a beginner, rodents make good first pets requiring minimal care. They’re highly social, curious, and smart.

Wrapping Up

With over 2000 species of rodents in the world, some make fine pets for households. Hamsters, mice, gerbils, and the few others listed in this post rank amongst the most common pet rodents.

To choose a pet that suits your lifestyle, family, and home, consider the pet’s housing, activity patterns, social and environmental needs.

avatar Jane
Jane is an experienced animal care specialist with a focus on rodents and small mammals, with over 10 years of experience in the pet industry. Her articles provide practical guidance on choosing the right pet and managing common health issues. Jane is an advocate for animal welfare and supports organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife. read more...

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