People Are More Open to Pet Rodents Than You Think

A few weeks ago, I pondered the appeal of rodents as pets. I couldn’t figure it out, so asked all of you help me out. Some of the results were surprising…

According to the results of the survey, about 54% of the responders had, at one time, kept a rodent as a pet, which was unexpected, considering that are far fewer small pet owners compared to dogs or cats. 38% thought that rodents were gross, and 8% said they had considered it.

Of those who had owned a pet rodent, 57% said that they chose their pet because they were cute, 43% said they were easy to take care of, 29% thought they were cool or chose the pet for an unspecified reason, and 14% said they didn’t require too much work.

Hamsters were the most popular kind of pet rodent at 83%, followed by guinea pigs at 50%. Gerbils and mice tied for third at 17%.

On the other hand, 60% of those who had never owned a pet rodent said that aesthetic and/or “other” reasons kept them from getting one. 40% said that they were deterred by health concerns, and 20% couldn’t have one because they didn’t have time, they didn’t have room, and/or others in their home wouldn’t let them keep one.

What was really enlightening however, were the personal responses I received. In the survey, I had asked the responders why or why not would rodents made good pets and for any thoughts they had on the matter. A few stood out:

“A bit labor intensive–” said one responder, “(and) not as easy to care for as people think and sadly, if you have kids, a bit difficult as they do not have a long life-span.”

Another, who owned a hamster when she was younger, disagreed. “They make fun first pets for a kid,” she said, “but I wouldn’t get one now. They smell bad and aren’t very cuddly, and my sister and I were often late to school because our hamster had escaped its cage!”

Also, it seemed that certain types of rodents were more preferred than others. In addition to the statistics I mentioned above, users’ comments also suggested this.

Writes one responder: “I don’t think there is anything wrong with owning a rodent. But rats are the one that kinda freak me out a bit. Especially the albino ones!” Another expressed his preference more thoughtfully: “The thought of a rat as a home pet is a huge turn off to most due to the social stigma associated with it. Personally, I would have a hamster as a pet, but certainly not a rat.”

I guess the results of this survey can be best summed up by another response I received: “A rodent as a pet seems pretty pointless to me. But then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

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