A Conversation for Talking Point - Pet Ownership
DoctorGonzo Started conversation May 2, 2002
A lot of problems arise when people buy pets that they have no idea about, and hav eno intention of finding out about. Also, those pets who have the reputation of being 'low-maintenance', often are not.
Take hamsters, for example. Now, there are probably a lot of people out there who look after their hamster, and both the hamster and the companion human mutually benefit. But, in general, hamsters do not make good pets. They're nocturnal, and not terribly comfortable with humans. Gerbils are even less trusting, and yet they also have a reputation as being suitable for kids. Rabbits are complex, subtle, highly social animals, and their behaviour is often difficult to interpret.
If anyone's considering a pet for their child, then I would say that the best idea would be a rat. Generally, they're inquisitive, friendly little creatures, aren't terrified of gentle handling, and make good company. Yet they have this reputation for being filthy disease-spreaders. (A572375). I'm on shakier ground here, but I think that gineau (sp?) pigs make good pets for kids.
Odo Posted May 3, 2002
I would agree on the point about guinea pigs. At home my brother and I had both rabbits and guinea pigs, and the pigs certainly made better pets. Both sets of rabbits (I had two pairs of females) where grumpy and didn't like being handled. There didn't seem to be any reason for this, they had not been treated roughly at any time and were very sociable creatures in some ways. You could sit and talk to them in their hutch or run and they were always waiting for us to feed and put them out in the mornings. The second pair we trained so that they would jump out of their hutch and into the run which we then slid down the garden onto the lawn. They were (and in the case of Bracken who is alive and very active, aged 11 this summer) happy to do this and it meant when they needed to be picked up to have their claws trimmed etc, they accepted it without too much fuss because it didn't happen regularly.
Rabbits are very strong and can kick hard, so are not really suitable for small children to pick up.
We also had various sets of guinea pigs which were always much friendlier. They were always more timid to start with. Getting them tame took longer than with the rabbits because they are naturally timid animals; but in the long run we had pets who would come charging out of their house in their run to see us when they heard us out in the garden. Companionable animals who will sit and chatter away to each other and to you by themselves!
As with all animals you must make sure you have the time, and the knowledge to look after them.
Mina Posted May 3, 2002
Gerbils are fine for kids! Really, they are inquisitive, fairly tame already, and all the gerbils I've ever had (and I've had loads) have never, ever bitten.
I do agree about rats though, they are very intelligent animals. Mine used to come when he was called, just like a dog. (Only cleverer!)
you've just reminded me of a couple of incidents..
i had 2 buck rabbits..in seperate hutches..thought i'd let them both run round garden at same time..thought garden big enough for them to stay away from each other..uh uh..wrong..as 1 approached the other i put my foot in the middle of them..1 of them bit my foot..managed to pick it up & put back in hutch before they got to fight..
my memory of a gerbal..is seeing 1 hanging by it's teeth on 1 of my brothers fingers..i've had gerbils since then..that didn't bite..
Mina Posted May 3, 2002
My buck rabbits live together, but they are from the same litter.
They don't fight, but they do get *really* friendly on occasion.
I find hamsters bight more than gerbils, As I said in another thread, I have had lots, and they never bit me.
Abi Posted May 3, 2002
Gerbils make great pets for kids. To quote the National Gerbil Society "They are popular as pets because they are social, inquisitive animals that are very comfortable interacting with humans."
I have a Shaw's Jird, which is the larger cousin of the Mongolian Gerbil (or Clawed Jird as it is properly known.=). Here is what a breeder I know, a lady called Sue Green wrote about them "Shaw's Jirds make wonderful pets. They have the same innate friendliness and natural curiosity as their Mongolian cousins. They rarely bite and enjoy being handled. Being that much bigger, they are easier to cuddle. They are also extremely intelligent"
Eddie is the most wonderful pet I can think of, as intelligent as a rat (she comes when called) and as cute as a button. The only reason Shaw's Jirds aren't more popular is because they are notoriously difficult to breed, but I would definitely get another.
Sergeant Mushroom Posted May 3, 2002
I used to have hamsters when I was little. They were great, apart from their tendency to die really quickly...One chewed its cage too much and swallowed some plastic, dying two months after we bought the thing.
We've always had a cat since then (the same one infact )
Kaz Posted May 7, 2002
Hamsters can be unsociable, but that can be due to personality and handling. We have had our hamster for just over 2 weeks, she is up most of the day. She cat-naps! Often snuggling down with us, I find she has helped my depression etc problems immensely.
However I do think that it is fundamentally cruel to keep any creature in a cage, so I do have conflicts and I do recognise that I am a hypocrite.
Sometimes at night she just sits there looking out of her cage, I feel guilty that I don't take her out every time she does she does that, but then I wouldn't get any sleep.
The thing is, I believe its wrong to keep pets in cages - but I do, I think its wrong to eat mea - but I do. There comes a point when you have to choose between personal happiness and your ethics.
Taking out our hamster is the best part of the day, she is fantastic and incredibly beautiful.
Kaz and Sauron the Fluffy
Abi Posted May 7, 2002
Interesting point Kaz.
I don't think I am being cruel. Eddie lives in a massive aquarium with plenty of room (and a good 5 inches of sawdust) to express herself as she would do in the wild (digging, digging, eating, digging, digging, digging, eating, digging). Not that Eddie would know what the wild being probably descended in some way from a breeding colony that was at London Zoo.
Some people would say I was cruel keeping her on her own, but it is a well known fact that only male jirds can be kept in pairs, as the females are too territorial. In fact in the wild they kick the males out of the burrows and force them to sleep in the open, on their backs, with their paws in the air. In fact she showed exactly what she thought of other jirds when I took her to get a companion the other week. She was not having any of it.
Kaz Posted May 9, 2002
I didn't know much about Jirds, they sound interesting, I have never seen one in a pet shop though.
Abi Posted May 9, 2002
They are quite unusual mainly because it is difficult to get them to breed. The females are only receptive to males for an hour or so, however they will try to make up for it...
"The world's greatest mammalian lover is Shaw's Jird of North Africa, which is frequently used as an experimental laboratory animal. One 60g male was observed to mate 224 times in 2 hours!" The Guinness Book of Animal Facts
The National Gerbil Society has very good resources on all jirds and gerbils - http://www.rodent.demon.co.uk/gerbils/other.htm I am getting two baby boys tomorrow from a breeder I know just because I love them so much.
Kaz Posted May 9, 2002
224 times in 2 hours!!!!!!!!!!!
but is she satisfied?!
Abi Posted May 9, 2002
Well if I was her I would be going 'Oh for crying out loud, geroff!'
i used to have a rotostak for my hamsters..i think i had 3 hamsters in it..(not all at the same time)..1 of them didn't like where i'd put the shavings for burrowing..i woke up 1 morning to find he'd moved about 6inches of shavings to another 'compartment'..you can get some good 'homes' for hamsters..wth tunnels connecting different 'compartments'..but..they are expensive..
Mina Posted May 9, 2002
I used to use rotostack for my gerbils. My mum found a load of units in a charity shop, so I had about 12 units, plus bedrooms, and hundreds of tunnels. did I hate cleaning it out!! I changed to a gerbilarium when I got my own place, that was much better.
Kaz Posted May 10, 2002
Abi, it appears that there are no articles in the guide about Jirds? How could this happen?
QueenBronners - Ferret Fanatic Posted Oct 28, 2003
Going back to Milo's post way back at the top of this page, I have to agree that rats are the best small pet. When I was a kid myself and my sister had the whole range of small pets. Our rats were the most intelligent of pets that we had - they would come when called and do simple tricks like playing dead. The big appeal of rats is that they each have an individual character so that they stand out from the rest. I found other small animals to be interchangeable with each other as they had no distinctive characture.
For example, my most recent rats were brohers from the same litter. Darcy was a manic little thing and rarely sat still for a second. He was constantly on the go looking for new things to do. He had a neat trick of using the cage roof as a set of monkey bars to get to the door. On the other hand his brother Widget was more relaxed and would sit for ages in one place sniffing the air. I've only got Widget left now, and he's slowed down even more now that he's old. Most of the time now he sits in a fold of my jumper gently squeaking to hisself, and grooming my jumper. Occassionally he takes a walk around the room to check that nothing has change, but he very quickly comes back to sit on the sofa with me.
I think I might have gone on a bit there, but I wanted to try and do the little ratties justice. Widget is such a good little mate to me - he pops out of his house to see me as soon as I get in from work, something my boyfriend doesn't manage most of the time!
I'll shut up now!
Key: Complain about this post
- 1: DoctorGonzo (May 2, 2002)
- 2: Odo (May 3, 2002)
- 3: Mina (May 3, 2002)
- 4: Emmily ~ Roses are red, Peas are green, My face is a laugh, But yours is a scream (May 3, 2002)
- 5: Mina (May 3, 2002)
- 6: Abi (May 3, 2002)
- 7: Sergeant Mushroom (May 3, 2002)
- 8: Kaz (May 7, 2002)
- 9: Abi (May 7, 2002)
- 10: Kaz (May 9, 2002)
- 11: Abi (May 9, 2002)
- 12: Kaz (May 9, 2002)
- 13: Abi (May 9, 2002)
- 14: Kaz (May 9, 2002)
- 15: Emmily ~ Roses are red, Peas are green, My face is a laugh, But yours is a scream (May 9, 2002)
- 16: Mina (May 9, 2002)
- 17: Kaz (May 10, 2002)
- 18: QueenBronners - Ferret Fanatic (Oct 28, 2003)