Behavioral Problems in Small Pets

Small rodents are popular pets. You can read here about the behavioral problems that can occur if the animal is kept in a manner that is inappropriate for the species.

The rodent order (Rodentia) is the largest and most species-rich group of mammals. Depending on the author, the number of rodent species varies between 1700-3000. This corresponds to approx. 40-70% of mammals. Depending on the author, it has between four and seven suborders. The currently most common classification is as follows:

  • Mouse relatives (Myomorpha)
  • Porcupine relatives (Hystricognathi)
  • Squirrel relatives (Sciuromorpha)
  • Thorntail squirrel relatives (Anomaluromorpha)

The range of animal species offered in the pet trade is subject to constant change due to changing demand (“fashion”) and new species are constantly being added.

Small pet, unproblematic attitude?

Many small rodents exhibit undesirable behavior and behavioral disorders when kept in human care. These animals are often sold without the necessary advice and given to owners who do not always have the necessary knowledge about keeping and feeding them. Since small rodents are often bought as the first pets for children, education (including for children) about species-appropriate husbandry is urgently needed. In the opinion of the authors, small rodents are not the best choice, especially for younger children, and should therefore only be recommended by experts with great care.

What are the causes of behavioral problems?

New species often find their way into the pet trade without sufficient biological data from field observations being available. However, the natural course of life of these animals significantly influences the behavior of animals in human care. The causes of many behavioral problems can be found by looking at the behavior of animals in their natural environment. Problem behavior often arises from a lack of satisfaction with needs. Veterinary professionals are also confronted with this problem behavior and its consequences of it.

What behavioral problems can occur?

The most frequently occurring undesirable behavior is aggressiveness towards conspecifics (intraspecific aggression) and towards humans (interspecific aggression), whereby anxiety and fear can also play a role. Anxiety can be defined as a basic feeling that expresses itself in the form of anxiety and unpleasant excitement in situations that are perceived as threatening. Fear, on the other hand, is described as a reaction of consciousness to a concrete danger.

Cannibalism and Kronism

If the first signs of fear are not noticed in time and no countermeasures are taken, cannibalism (eating fellow animals) and kronyism (eating one’s offspring) can occur. Kronism also occurs regularly in some small mammals when there is protein malnutrition or when the owner controls the nest too frequently, and cannibalism when there is a lack of water and/or space.

Abnormally repetitive behavior

Common behavioral disorders are abnormal repetitive behaviors (ARV). They include behavior that is inappropriately repetitive and invariable in process and/or orientation. Abnormally repetitive behaviors appear functionless, may involve auto-mutilation, and are often odd in appearance. These include e.g. B. Stereotypical digging or lattice gnawing. They are the result of unsuitable housing conditions.

Frequently Asked Question

Which pet is uncomplicated?

Hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, rats, rabbits, and budgerigars, for example, are considered easy-care pets and are often regarded as “beginner animals”. Yes, the animals can spend a few hours alone in the cage, but they also need daily attention and “exercise”.

Which animal is easy to keep?

Guinea pigs, cats, and budgies are some of the easiest pets to care for.

Are mice good pets?

A mouse is ideal for keeping as a pet. The small, cute and playful specimens that you can pick out in the pet shop or animal shelter no longer have much in common with their wild counterparts. A tame mouse cannot simply be released into the wild.

What is the cleanest pet?

HAMSTER: These cute little solitary critters groom themselves and arrange their food in neat piles, making them one of the most low-maintenance pets and also one of the cleanest pets one can own.

Which small animal will be tame?

Rats are the rodents that most often become affectionate and also want to cuddle. Sometimes they even ask for cuddles. Guinea pigs and rabbits also like to keep still when petting.

Which small pet likes to cuddle?

The most popular pets include dogs, cats, and small animals such as rabbits or guinea pigs. They are said to have the greatest cuddle factor, as their fur is usually soft and cuddly.

Which animal needs little space?

Dwarf rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs also feel at home in small apartments. If you don’t want to pet animals, there are turtles, various lizards, grasshoppers, and spiders. However, this requires a terrarium, the size of which depends on the type and number of animals.

What is the cheapest pet?

The cheapest animal with fur is the hamster. On average, it only lives for two years and costs almost 500 euros during that time. But animal has a different rhythm of life than most people.


Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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