Small Pets could be a consideration for adoption this Summer


The latest research shows that 5.4 million U.S. households own a small animal. Not only do dogs and cats improve people’s moods, control blood pressure, and stave off loneliness but so do rats! There are many small animals like rats and guinea pigs at local shelters waiting for forever homes.

Our rescues need families to adopt these pets, including rabbits and hamsters. Perhaps your lifestyle is better suited for a smaller pet that doesn’t require walks at the park. Different small pets have varying needs, and some are more high maintenance than others, so it’s essential to do your research. A rabbit is lower maintenance than adopting a bird.

Good resource:

Criteria for deciding which small pets are best for your lifestyle

There are so many benefits of adopting a small pet for your family. If you live in a small apartment, a tiny pet is perfect for your lifestyle. Most small pets except for birds are quiet, and if you keep up on cleaning their housing, the smell isn’t bad either. Remember, though, not every small pet wants to be held and cuddled with all the time!

According to United Vet Care, some of the best small pets are hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, and rats when it comes to children.

Types of small animals to adopt

Pets may teach children about loving unconditionally. Small pets may also be more manageable than dogs or cats as overall daily maintenance may take less time. As you research the various small animals, our staff can help with food, supplies, advice, and enrichment. Visit both our online stores so you can start your list and then bring your questions to our stores:



A rabbit is a gnawing mammal of the order Lagomorph. Rabbits, both wild and domestic, have been around for a long time!

Types of rabbits include:

  • Giants
  • Middleweights
  • Small rabbits
  • and even dwarfs!

You can also find rabbits that come in different coat types. You’ll need a rabbit house or hutch, a waterer, and a feeder.


They have outstanding personalities and are quiet


You may want more than one, rabbits like living with other rabbits


Try these rabbit sticks from Living World, as these are great for your buddy on which to chew.




Suppose your family enjoys a more active pet during the evening hours than a hamster is a good fit. These clean pets need something to chew on as their incisors continuously grow throughout their lives. If handled carefully, they can be picked up, but young children may need to be supervised by an adult.


Hamsters live around three years


Nocturnal and sleep during the day


Try Oxbow Essentials Healthy Handfuls as food for your hamster or gerbil.



Small pets Gerbils

Many families adopt small gerbils as they’re known for being adventurous and fun to watch. They are awake during the day, so everyone can check out what they’re up to (burrowing and climbing) in the environment you’ve set up! There are a few varieties from which to choose.


Low-maintenance and don’t smell


They’re escape artists and not always super friendly




Rats are known as being the most people-friendly pet on this list! Yet this small pet needs a lot of time outside its environment. This animal is very intelligent, highly sociable, and clean.


They can live up to three years, and they’re quiet


Rats are nocturnal like hamsters, so you’ll need to have time in the evening for this pet, they’re active at dawn and dusk


Add Oxbow’s rat food to your list and ask our staff if you have questions about the brands.


Guinea Pigs


Guinea pigs live a long time! They also enjoy being held and rarely bite. This small pet does not produce its own vitamin C, so provide this essential nutrient needs in a supplement with their meals. You’ll need to exercise your guinea pig daily, so this isn’t a small pet that is satisfied with being in its cage all the time.


Can live between 5 and 8 years


You need at least two guinea pigs. They like to live with a buddy, so you’ll need a large environment.


Oxbow Timmy Pops are a big hit with pet guinea pigs. As our staff about ways to keep your pet busy.


Why is it essential to adopt a small pet?

The small pets mentioned above are often returned to shelters by families who didn’t realize they wouldn’t have time to care for these little buddies. Some folks didn’t know small pets cannot be ignored!

Which shelters have small pets available?

Multnomah County has rats and rabbits available this Summer. Oregon Humane Society also has small pets available on its site. They’re adorable! Some small pets are bonded and can be adopted in pairs.

What other small pets should you consider?

There are a few we didn’t mention above, but we love these four of the more ‘exotic pets’ for more experienced owners.


small pets: ferrets

Ferrets could be a fun companion to live with as they have whimsical personalities. They also may be illegal in some cities, so it’s essential to check your local city ordinances before purchasing this small pet.


Some people compare living with ferrets to living with a very active cat


Ferret owners say their small pet has a distinct smell


Bearded Dragons


Beardies may live between 15 and 18 years. Of all the reptiles, this species is very popular and can be easily handled by its owner. This beautiful animal is an excellent pet for beginners who don’t have a lot of experience with reptiles.


Most beardies enjoy being handled


They need a lot of ‘live’ food.


Some Birds

small pets: birds

Lovebirds, parakeets, and even parrots are common animals you may find on your local rescue site. Many rescues and shelters will ask for families with experience as birds are long-lived and require a lot of socialization and company throughout the day.




Some birds are long-lived and can live to 100!




Geckos are one of the more popular reptiles, and these pets can be handled. They come in a variety of colors and patterns. They may live anywhere between 10 and 20 years.


A great candidate for someone that has never owned a reptile


These reptiles are nocturnal and super active at nighttime!


Whether you want a small pet you can handle each day like a guinea pig or prefer to watch your new buddy burrow or climb around their environment – you may want to consider a small pet! Shelters and local rescue groups also have many bonded pairs available, so perhaps two small pets may be a good fit for your home this Summer. Our staff may answer questions you have about food, shelter, and enrichment toys if this sounds right up your alley!

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