Companion animals, such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, and ferrets, are often called pocket pets because they are small enough to fit in your pocket or lap, or even cupped in your hand. These unique pets are especially appreciated by those who have smaller living quarters or limited outdoor space and are a special favorite of school classrooms. West Valley Pet Clinic has a special appreciation for our petite friends, and we always provide needed veterinary care for the local neighborhood schools’ classroom pets for free!
Handling Pocket Pets
Smaller animals are often considered good starter pets for younger children. Unfortunately, excitement and inexperience sometimes leads to rough handling.
Adult supervision is certainly required, at least until the child learns to handle the animal gently and appropriately. The American Animal Hospital Association recommends the following techniques for lifting and handling pocket pets:
Mice, hamsters, and gerbils should be held in the palms of cupped hands.
Guinea pigs, rats, and ferrets should be lifted up with one hand wrapped around the shoulders and one hand supporting the back of the body.
Rabbits have a particularly light skeleton and need to be handled carefully; hold them by the scruff at the back of the neck or under the chest with one hand, and support the hind legs with the other hand.
If your pocket pet struggles or kicks, put it down until it is calm and willing to accept your attention. Grabbing, squeezing, or forcing a struggling pet can cause serious injury (to them as well as you!).
Wellness Care for Your Pocket Pet
All pocket pets should visit the veterinarian annually for a checkup. Regular veterinary check-ups are particularly important for these small animals. Their entire lifespan may only be a few years, so age-related problems can develop in a matter of months.
Though many of these smaller animals don’t require vaccinations, they should be examined by a veterinarian who is familiar with the special issues associated with your type of pet. If concerns develop between visits, call our clinic at once–your little friend may not exhibit any visible symptoms of illness until the problem is quite advanced.
Finally, your friends at West Valley Pet Clinic are trained and experienced in the care of many types of smaller pets. We are pleased to help you choose a pet that is well suited for your household and to advise you on the needs of the animal regarding cages, bedding, feed, and behavioral support. Simply contact our clinic to discuss caring for your pocket pet.