1.5 million rabbits. 1 million guinea pigs. 900,000 hamsters. More of us than ever in the UK are taking them into our homes and our hearts. In the past year, we’ve seen a 50% rise in the number of smaller pets, with this growing population now at 5 million – 1.7 million more than the previous year. So, why are they catching up in the popularity stakes with their bigger pet buddies like cats and dogs and what are the benefits of welcoming a smaller pet into your home?
“World events have had a massive impact on our lifestyles over the last few years,” says Nicole Paley from UK Pet Food.
“Throughout the pandemic, we saw an increase in people adding a pet to their family as they sought the amazing companionship a pet can bring.
She adds: “Today, owners are clearly impacted by the cost of living and sadly relinquishment figures are high. The small pet population is on the up suggesting that people believe they are more manageable and less expensive to keep.
“Although pets bring huge joy to a household, they also come with a huge responsibility and it is so important to understand the care and cost implications – whatever the size of your pet.”
When the Minter family considered introducing another pet, they carefully weighed up all the options, before welcoming Kevin the hamster into their home.
“Lily was really keen to get another pet, but we couldn't afford another dog - with two small Jack Russells (Rascal and Scratch) already,” explains Mum, Daisy Minter.
“Lily is really responsible, and she funds the upkeep of the hamster herself, while I supervise!”
Daisy explains that Lily helped build the 'hutch' (much more than a cage as you can see in the photo!) and shreds her own paper.
She also makes toys out of kitchen rolls and other bits and bobs to play with Kevin. Financially, the maintenance is much more manageable than the dogs. However, timewise, Lily has spent a lot of time socialising Kevin who used to be very shy. She also has to clean the hutch herself every weekend.
“It's less time consuming than having a new puppy but there's still a lot to do. Luckily, she really loves looking after him!” says Daisy.
When thinking of introducing a small pet into your home, always speak to your local vet and pet professionals for advice, and budget for the lifetime care of your pet.
Do you care for a rabbit, guinea pig or hamster? What do you love most about them?
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