Friendly Rodent Pets: 8 Friendliest Rodents To Own

Most rodents make hardy, low-maintenance pets. But many potential pet owners are not only looking for an animal that is easy to care for, but one that will be friendly and engaging as well. Unless you are strictly looking for an observational pet, you will want to choose an animal with which you can develop a bond and interact with.

What are some of the friendliest pet rodents? Rodents make excellent pets for a number of different reasons. In addition to being easy to care for and requiring little space, many rodents are quite friendly with humans as well. Eight of the friendliest pet rodents are:

  1. Rats
  2. Mice
  3. Guinea Pigs
  4. Chinchillas
  5. Rabbits
  6. Syrian Hamsters
  7. Gerbils
  8. Dwarf Hamsters

Read on for more information about each of these animals, with the friendliest rodents being at the top of the list. 

#1 Friendliest Rodent Pet: The Rat

If you found yourself cringing when you saw that the rat was at the top of the list, this may just mean that you are not very familiar with them. We have all seen rats presented in a negative light – from the villain rat in the Lady and the Tramp to the sewer rats in New York City that we read about in the news. But there is a different side to rats – a side that causes us to attest that they are one of the friendliest pets a person can have the pleasure of owning.

Rats are a few different things – they are highly intelligent, they are ceaselessly curious, and they are unbelievably friendly. In fact, rats are similar in disposition to that of a pet dog. I had pet rats when I was a kid, and they would follow me around like any dog would! If you would like a rodent who will greet you at the cage bars when you enter the room, consider a rat. If you would like a rodent who would be pleased to curl up on your lap and watch a movie with you, a rat would be a good choice. Really, if you are looking for a low-maintenance dog in tiny form, look no further than a rat. 

Rats, like most of the rodents on this list, must live in the company of at least one other of its species to thrive. They are highly social animals and will be depressed if living a solitary existence. If you are only looking for a solo pet, then, a rat will not be the right fit (you’ll need to look further down the list for that). 

#2 Friendliest Rodent Pet: The Mouse

Mice may look like small rats, but they are slightly different in both personality and care requirements. Mice make wonderful pets – they are also very intelligent, curious and playful, and they are quite social. Like rats, they crave social interaction and will thrive in a communal setting. 

While mice do not crave human interaction as much as rats do, they can learn to become tame and to enjoy handling and engagement with their people. They are likely to greet you at the bars of the cage just like rats, and are highly food-motivated. Mice are also very social animals – they need the company of other mice to thrive, and people who keep mice enjoy watching their playful antics displayed with one another.

Any time I would get mice, I would always end up getting them young. It’s important to understand terminology so that you can understand sale listings when looking for your rodent friend. Check out my article What Baby Mice Are Called & Other Fun Facts.

#3 Friendliest Rodent Pet: The Guinea Pig

The guinea pig is another very friendly (large-) pocket pet. Guinea pigs are intelligent animals and enjoy companionship. They are capable of creating strong bonds with their people, and with one another. A guinea pig kept alone will become depressed, and for this reason they should be kept in bonded (same-sex) pairs. Guinea pigs, while considered to be small pets, are quite a bit larger than mice, rats, and hamsters. For this reason and their friendly dispositions, they are often considered to be ideal first-time pets for responsible children.

Guinea pigs can live for 8-10 years, as opposed to smaller rodents who live for only 1-3 years on average. They are relatively low-maintenance, but they do require exercise and safe time spent outside of their enclosures. 

#4 Friendliest Rodent Pet: The Chinchilla

Chinchillas are similar to guinea pigs in temperament, care requirements, and lifespan. Chinchillas will typically be timid and shy while they are getting used to their people, but once comfortable, are usually quite docile and easy to tame. They rarely bite, and are known to be gentle creatures. Like guinea pigs, they will require a much larger cage than smaller rodents, but unlike guinea pigs, they can happily live in a multi-story cage which can help with space constraints.

Chinchillas are social animals and need the companionship of others within their species to thrive. As with any social rodent pet, make sure that the chinchillas you are keeping together are of the same gender. Chinchillas do best in bonded pairs as opposed to communal groups. 

#5 Friendliest Rodent Pet: The Rabbit

Rabbits make lovely pets, and like the previous two on our list, do best when kept in bonded pairs. Rabbits are like most other rodents in that they will become depressed if left to live by themselves, and many shelters will adopt them out in pairs. Rabbits enjoy human companionship as well, and are easily tamed. They are easily litter-trained and while they require an enclosure in which they can sleep and stay safe when supervision is not possible, they can easily roam the house like a dog or a cat as well. Of course, rabbits are notorious for their chewing, so supervision is crucial if you don’t want to deal with wiring or other electrical disasters. Rabbits live 8-10 years, and make good pets for responsible children.

#6 Friendliest Rodent Pet: The Syrian Hamster

Syrian hamsters are typically friendly and receptive to handling. They are the largest of the pet hamster species, and if you are looking for a hamster for a child or a first-timer, the Syrian is a great option. Syrian hamsters will be timid at first, but are usually fairly easy to tame. They are also not as active and flighty as some of the dwarf species, making them easier to interact with.

Syrian hamsters prefer to live in solitude, so do not require interaction of the human or hamster variety. In fact, a Syrian hamster should never live with another of its kind – they are extremely territorial, and will fight, even to the death. If you would like a friendly pet, but you have a busy lifestyle, a Syrian hamster is a great choice.

One of the most fun things of getting a new pet is coming up with its name! Need help thinking of a name for your hamster? Check out my article 100+ Unique Hamster Names (You Probably Haven’t Heard.)

#7 Friendliest Rodent Pet: The Gerbil

Gerbils are similar in care requirements and temperament to hamsters. They are usually docile, easy to tame, and receptive to handling. The way that gerbils differ from hamsters is that they do require the company of their own species to thrive. If you would like to keep a gerbil as a pet, you will want to keep a pair or a group of same-sex pets (in the wild, they live in groups of 2-15). 

Both gerbils and hamsters take up relatively little space when compared to some of the larger small pets, which can be a benefit if you have only a small area in which to keep them. Of course, because you will need to get multiple gerbils if you decide to keep this pet, the cage requirements will be slightly larger than that of a lone hamster. 

#8 Friendliest Rodent Pet: The Dwarf Hamster

There are four species of dwarf hamster commonly kept as pets. Some are friendlier than others, but they are all usually receptive to handling and human interaction when handled and treated with kindness from a young age. They are very active and very quick, however, which can present challenges when holding and handling them – it can also make them a joy to watch as an observational pet.

Dwarf hamsters are sometimes able to live with others within their species, and if you would like to try to keep them in a group or paired setting, you will need to introduce them to one another at a young age (or preferably, try keeping same-sex littermates together). On the other hand, dwarf hamsters are perfectly content (and often prefer) living lives of solitude. In this way they can be flexible pets, generally receptive to but not requiring interaction from either humans or others of their kind. 

Friendly Rodent Pets

There are plenty of options if you’re looking for a friendly rodent as a pet. All of the above animals make wonderful companions, with some craving more human attention than others. Pocket pets are generally low-maintenance when compared to other popular pets, are typically hardy and healthy, and take up relatively little space. There are a lot of benefits to small pets, and they are often easy to find too – many of these animals are bred by responsible breeders, and you can often find them in rescues and pet shelters as well. If you’re looking for a friendly, easy-going pet, these rodents are certainly worth looking into.

If you want a complete rundown of the smallest hamster breeds, check out my article Small Hamster Breeds: 9 Dwarf & Small Hamster Breeds.

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