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10 Small Rodents that Are Also Great Pets

There’s a very small range of rodents that you can happily keep as pets. If you think they’re cute, then they’re all yours! Some are quite easy to tame, and they really enjoy human interaction. Others might need a little bit more time to accommodate you, and vice versa.

However, one thing’s for sure: They tend to be more active at night, which might not fit with other people’s lifestyles. Luckily, they are also low-maintenance pets, as long as you provide them with the right conditions: proper housing, exercise, and the right diet. If you are searching for a small, furry companion, here are some of the best small rodents you can choose from.

Photo by Alex Milan from Shutterstock

Syrian hamster

Commonly known as golden or teddy bear hamsters, the Syrian one lives around three years. They are generally solitary animals that need their own housing. Hamsters, handled from a very young age, have quite an agreeable temperament.

However, they are nocturnal, and they can get quite grumpy if you wake them up during the day. They can reach up to 7 inches and 5 ounces. Some of their physical characteristics include a golden brown coat and a lighter belly, and some mutations might cause variations in color, pattern, and even hair length. Here’s a super cute cage you should definitely get for your little pet!

Dwarf hamster

Some dwarf hamsters could be quite social with other hamsters of their own species. They can be housed in same-sex pairs or small groups. They could live for up to three years. Even if dwarf hamsters have quite the reputation for being a bit nippy, most are easy to handle with a gentle touch.

Their length can reach up to 2 inches, they weigh one ounce, and among their physical characteristics, they can have gray-brown fur, a dark stripe down the center of the back, a white belly, and plenty of color mutations.

Chinese hamster

Even if they aren’t true dwarf hamsters, the Chinese ones are still quite small. They are less common pets than other hamster varieties. Given that they are so small and quick, they might represent a challenge for some people.

They definitely need a cage with bars they cannot squeeze through, or even a glass aquarium. Their length varies between 3 and 4 inches, and their weight generally reaches 1 ounce. Some of their physical characteristics include a dark brown back, a black line along the spine, and an ivory belly.

Mongolian gerbil

Gerbils are extremely active and social, and they are more than happy in a same-sex pair or even a small group. The best thing to do is acquire them when they are very young. It’s just easier for them to bond. With constant handling, gerbils can easily become tame.

However, they possess high energy levels, which can make them a bit difficult to hold. Their length can reach up to 4 inches, and they weigh around 2 ounces. Some of their main physical characteristics include a mix of gray, gold, and black fur. They also have an off-white belly and long, furry tails.

Fancy mouse

Even if they’re quite quick and skittish, mice can easily become tame if they are handled regularly. Most of them learn to take food from their caretaker’s hand. They also live for one to three years on average.

As social animals, females often do really well in same-sex pairs or even small groups, but males end up fighting other males. In terms of length, they can reach up to 7 inches and up to 2 ounces. Some of their physical characteristics include black, brown, white, gray, gold, roan, ginger, and even multi-toned fur with a long, beautiful tail.

Common rat

Rats live an average of two to four years. They are quite social, so it would be best to keep them in a same-sex pair. They don’t do as well as single pets. With constant handling, they can also become very tame and enjoy human companionship.

They also need out-of-cage time for their daily dose of social interaction and exercise. If you’re passionate about it, you can even teach them a couple of simple but funny tricks. They can reach up to 11 inches and 12 to 23 ounces.

Some of their physical characteristics include different color varieties of black, white, brown, gold, and many others. They also have prominent whiskers and long, hairless tails.

Photo by Rita_Kochmarjova from Shutterstock

Guinea pig

Guinea pigs have an average lifespan of five to seven years. They’re usually quite easy to handle, and they rarely bite, even if they’re under a lot of stress. As social animals, they do very well when kept in same-sex pairs, with one exception.

Apparently, males tend to go through fights when they hit puberty. They also have very demanding diets because they require fresh hay and veggies, as well as adequate amounts of vitamin C. Their length can reach up to 10 inches, and their weight is 42 ounces.

Some of the physical characteristics that you need to remember are a stout body, no tail, a large and cute head, and colors that include black, tan, cream, brown, and white.


Very similar to rabbits, chinchillas are quite active and playful. They are mainly nocturnal animals, and they prefer a quiet spot to spend their day. They are not necessarily crazy about being touched or held, mostly because they love moving and exploring.

However, some of them can still learn to enjoy your company. Their length can reach up to 14 inches, and their weight is around 25 ounces. Some of the physical characteristics of a Chinchilla include short limbs, bushy tails, and thick, black, gray-white, or beige fur.

African dormouse

The African dormouse is a teeny-tiny squirrel-like rodent that’s very fun and entertaining to watch. Given that they are so quick and agile, they need a super-secure habitat to prevent them from escaping.

They also require a roomy enclosure, like a 20-gallon tank, with ropes and other items they can easily climb. Their length goes up to 4 inches, and their weight can easily reach 2 ounces. They have a long and bushy tail, large eyes, and rounded ears, and their main colors include gray, brown, tan, and red.

Common degu

Native to Chile, the degus are known to be quite social animals that live in communities of up to 100 in the wild. They do very well housed in same-sex pairs or even small groups in captivity. These rodents are quite easily tamed when they’re properly handled from a young age, and some even enjoy cuddling with their caretakers.

Their length can reach up to 12 inches, and they weigh up to 11 ounces. Some of their physical characteristics include a round and squat body with yellow-brown fur on the back. They also have a tan belly with long and thin tails.

How to choose your rodent

It is only natural to be drawn to a cute little animal at first sight, but you still need to consider which kind of rodent might be a good fit for your family. Some animals, including rats and guinea pigs, have a very long history of domestication and are way more likely to be calm and tame.

Hamsters and guinea pigs are definitely more active during the day, while other rodents might adapt to some extent. However, they still tend to be nocturnal or even more active during the night. Some rodents are generally solitary, such as the Syrian hamster.

Before deciding on your next furry friend, make sure you fully understand his or her housing, social, and environmental needs, as well as activity patterns, potential odors and sounds, and any other factors that could turn out to be challenging for your household.

If you enjoyed reading this article, then you also need to check: 14 Foods Your Senior Dog Can’t Have


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