Small pets and big spaces aren’t the obvious combination. Often when considering a pet, people with limited space assume a small pet is the best option.
However, this is not always the case. In fact, you may be better off with a small dog, who can be taken out for exercise regularly, than a guinea pig that requires much more room than you might think.
Here are the minimum guidelines for a rabbit, from the Rabbit Welfare Association’s website:
Our minimum recommendations
Our recommended living area for 2 average sized rabbits (and they should be kept at least in pairs) is a footprint of 3m x 2m. By ‘footprint’ we mean the accessible area of the ground, or floor if they’re indoor bunnies. The upper floor of a two-storey hutch does NOT count towards the footprint. Similarly, whilst raised platforms are great for enrichment, they do not count towards the footprint.
The RSPCA also has guidelines on the space needs for guinea pigs. These are based on various research projects that have taken place recently, as more and more animals are being found living in inappropriate and unnatural cages and enclosures.
Many smaller animals need specialist accommodation, for example lizards will need heat and UV lamps that can be monitored. In addition they are likely to have specialist diets, and for live food, you will also need to consider their needs!
As a lizard, dragon or snake grows, they may well need a second or third vivarium to make sure their housing meets their space needs. This is true for most pets.
Before adopting or purchasing a pet, remember to do some research with a specialist organisation so that you have the most up to date information. We are learning all the time, knowledge and best practice may have changed since you were a child, or last had a pet of that type.
Our post on buying pets might help if you are at the beginning of your journey.
Some modern enclosures and habitats can be wonderfully creative, or even unnecessary. The rise of the house rabbit, who can roam around the whole house or garden is a far cry from the lonely bunny in an outdoor hutch. Rats, ferrets and hamsters can all enjoy long and changing tunnel systems.
The cost of pet housing needs to be factored into the cost of pet ownership. Including upgrades as required. Most animals also need enrichment activities and regular cleaning to prevent pests and health problems.
Small pets and big spaces, or bigger than you thought, are a really important change to our understanding in the last few years.