‘Pocket pets’ include rodents such as rats, mice and guinea pigs. Rodents can be a great option for those who want a small, quiet pet. Keep in mind that many do still have specialised dietary, housing and care needs. For example, rodents have teeth which continually grow and it is therefore important that they are provided with a suitable diet and hard items for chewing to maintain their teeth.


Rats are intelligent, clean animals that make great pets, especially for families with children, since they rarely bite. Rats enjoy being housed together, so you should purchase at least two rats of the same sex to be raised together. Rats need a large, wire cage with multiple climbing surfaces and exercise opportunities, such as platforms placed at different heights and an exercise wheel. They also need a cozy place to nap, such as a nesting box.

Commercially formulated pellets are the best diet for a pet rat, plus occasional treats of fresh fruit and vegetables. Also, rats have front teeth that grow continuously and they need to chew on wood blocks to prevent overgrowth.


Mice are entertaining pets which are generally friendly and unlikely to bite. Mice and can be housed together, but female pairs are the safest cage mates, as males may become aggressive.

Small rodents like mice should be housed in a wire cage with a solid floor and narrow spaces between cage bars to prevent escape. Rodents will climb the cage bars, but they need additional climbing surfaces, as well as an exercise wheel. Provide plenty of bedding to satisfy their desire to dig, tunnel, and bury food, plus additional nesting material, such as cardboard or shredded paper towels, for extra enrichment. Avoid aromatic wood shavings, which cause ocular and respiratory irritation. Use recycled paper products as bedding instead.

As with rats, commercial pellets, which contain a mixture of necessary nutrients, are the healthiest diet choice for your mouse. Also, provide plenty of chewing material to avoid tooth overgrowth. Avoid seed diets, which are high in fat and calories.

Guinea pigs

Guinea pigs, or cavies, are social pets which like to live in pairs or groups. Their best housing option is a well-ventilated wire cage with a solid floor lined with a soft material, such as fleece or towels. Guinea pigs should be fed a species-specific pellet diet, and as much grass hay as they wish. We recommend that the type of pellet given to your Guinea Pig is high in vitamin C and is nutritionally balanced, and to keep foods which contain seed or lucerne as an occasional treat.  In addition, guinea pigs must receive foods rich in vitamin C, such as kale, parsley, and peppers, as they cannot produce their own vitamin C and can develop a deficiency.

Citation: AAHA.org