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10 Types of Pet Rodents

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Most pet rodents are classified as exotic pets, and therefore need to be handled with care, especially if being handled by a novice pet owner.

Before you decide to acquire a rodent pet, you should talk with the people around your home and those who will take care of the pet for you in your absence. Some may be uncomfortable with these animals or with caring for sensitive pets. Educating them will be part of your ownership experience.

a cute beige syrian hamster sitting amongst flowers

What to Consider Before Acquiring a Rodent Pet

Many pet rodent species exist, and they remain constant options for adoption. Different rodent species have different levels of timidness, and some will be easier to tame compared to others.

Before adopting one, however, you should have in place their required housing materials. Most rodent pets are also nocturnal, meaning that they are more active at night, and will therefore require more attention during odd hours. Either way, rodent pets are lower-maintenance animals.

Before deciding on a rodent pet to choose, you should know that some rodent pets are solitary pets, while others, like guinea pigs, are best kept in pairs, and if possible, should be introduced together to the cage, lest they fight later on.

You should also acquire your rodent pet from a reputable breeder, or one with reliable information and advice on how to best keep and maintain your new friend(s).

The pet’s lifespan is also a factor for consideration, as most people prefer pets that live longer to enjoy their companionship for more time.

In the list of rodents, hamsters and mice have the shortest longevity, with a lifespan of 1 – 3 years. Rats often live for up to 4 years, while guinea pigs can live for up to 7 years.

Hosting a pet is not only enough. You have to maintain the hygiene around its cage to the maximum to avoid any potential accidents or illnesses.

So what are these possible pet rodents? Read on for a detailed look.

10 Types of Pet Rodents

1. Chinchillas

woman holding two chinchillas

With the capability of living up to 15 years in captivity, chinchillas are a popular choice. This native South American species is quite active and playful, making them easily tamed.

However, they do not like being held for an extended time, but they rather like exploring and walking around. Either way, they can easily learn about and get friendly with their owners.

Before acquiring them, however, you need to ensure that you have an enclosure large enough to hold one or two, keeping in mind how playful they are, and all the requirements they need.

At maximum size, chinchillas can grow to a length of 10 – 14 inches, often weighing between 15 – 25 ounces, with short limbs with bushy tails. 

Popular for their luxurious fur, long fluffy tail, and a set of large and rounded ears, chinchillas are adorable and favorites among children.

However, concerning their active nature and agility, it can be a problem having young kids handling the chinchilla.

2. Syrian Hamster

closeup of a syrian hamster outdoors

Also referred to as the teddy bear, or the golden hamsters, Syrian hamsters are solitary nocturnals that appreciate their privacy, especially during the day to avoid getting them irritated and grumpy.

They have a longevity of about 2 – 3 years, grow to 5 – 7 inches at maximum maturity, and weigh about 5 ounces. Due to different mutations, coat colors and patterns are available in golden browns with a lighter belly.

3. Guinea Pig

guinea pig on top of its owners lap

With a lifespan of between 5 – 7 years, guinea pigs are not only hardy animals but are also a good choice for rodent pets.

This South American native has diverse personalities, all the more reason they are highly adaptable within most homes. They are extremely easy to handle, and neither do they bite, even when stressed or under pressure.

At maximum growth, they grow to about 8 – 10 inches in length and weigh about 25 – 42 ounces.

Although they are fairly nocturnal, guinea pigs are much more comfortable living with a partner, and with a space with more running and exercising levels. However, they do not always do well having a member of the same sex sharing a cage with them.

4. Dwarf Hamster

focused shot of a dwarf hamster

Dwarf hamsters are a popular pet choice among children because they are relatively easy to tame. They are extremely friendly with their kind, and can even be housed with other hamster breeds without any complications or fights erupting.

They have a lifespan of up to 3 years in captivity, and can grow to a maximum of 2 inches in length, and weigh about 1 ounce. They have gray-brown fur with a white belly and a range of color mutations across the other parts of the body.

5. African Dormouse

selective focus shot of a dormouse on a tiny branch

Also known as the micro-squirrel, this South African native has many traits in common with both squirrels and mice. They are also known to be quite nimble and fast, and can, therefore, be problematic to inexperienced owners. 

With a life expectancy of over 6 years, this climber is nocturnal and needs an area that is shielded away from light. They are also highly social rodents that are most comfortable in packs, or at least in a pair. At maximum growth, they can grow 3 -4 inches long and can weigh up to 2 ounces.

6. Common Rat

closeup shot of a common rat

Although they are known to be extremely disastrous, common rats are easy to care for and are also easy to tame. Rats are nocturnal, but can easily have a bond with humans. They typically do not bite and are highly intelligent.

However, they have a short-lived lifespan, only living for 18 – 36 months. This explains why they are extremely fast breeders, with their females often reaching heat approximately once a week once they hit maturity.

At maximum growth, they can reach 9 inches long, and weigh close to 23 ounces. They are also very social animals, and won’t mind sharing a cage with a same-sex partner. Just remember to occasionally let them out of the cage for human interaction, and maybe they can even learn something new.

7. Chinese Hamster

a chinese hamster standing on a bed of small plants

Compared to the dwarf hamsters, the Chinese hamsters are still relatively small. They are a good pick for pet rodents, although they are quick, a factor that might pose a challenge with younger owners. 

Owing to their size too, you will need a cage with bars close enough not to let it escape, or rather house it in a glass aquarium. At maximum maturity, they can grow 3 – 4 inches in length and can weigh up to 1 ounce.

8. Mongolian Gerbil

selective shot of a mongolian gerbil on a tree branch

Gerbils are very active and social and are easy to maintain, which is the main reason why they are popular among children. They have a fairly short lifespan of around 2 years but make the best rodent pets because they are always curious and interesting.

However, they do not do well living in solitary and are best kept in packs or pairs.

Gerbils are also high-energy animals that need lots of exercising platforms to work off their excess energy. At optimum growth, they can grow to 4 inches tall and weigh 2 ounces.

However, before rushing to acquire a pair for your household, owning them is prohibited in some states, so you better check with the local authorities first.

9. Common Degu

Fast gaining fame as a favorite pocket pet, the common degu is a Chilean native pet rodent taking the markets by storm for its outstanding qualities like being exceptionally friendly besides being diurnal (awake during the day), unlike their nocturnal companions. 

With a life expectancy of 5 – 8 years, the common degu can grow up to 12 inches long and can weigh up to 11 ounces.

However, the species is considered invasive and illegal in some states, so you might want to confirm with local authorities before getting one.

They also live best in packs or pairs.

10. Fancy Mouse

Lastly, the fancy mouse is a very funny and entertaining pocket pet. Although they can be a little skittish, they can easily be tamed by frequent handling.

Their sizes vary, often growing up to 12 inches long and at maximum maturity, and can weigh up to 3 ounces.

They have a relatively short lifespan, often living typically for 18 – 24 months, although they can live for up to 30 months. Interestingly, females go well together, but the males will never get along together in one enclosure. 

a hamster on little girl hands


Choosing a pet rodent is something to approach with utmost caution and preparation. First, you should have all the preparations for the new pet in place, before going to pick the pet. 

Before the acquisition of the pet, also, you have to check with your local authorities if you need to have any permission to keep the animals, as some of these pet rodents are either prohibited or protected by law. 

Once you get clearance with the authorities and all the preparations in place, choose the best-looking and healthy rodent pet.

Healthy rodent pets do not have any discharges from the nose, mouth, or ears. They do not also cough or sneeze or produce any wheezing sound. Have fun with your new pet rodent!