The Health Risks That Pocket Pets Pose

Small furry animals kept as pets are referred to as “pocket pets.” There is a wide variety to choose from, including hamsters, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, sugar gliders and squirrels. They are cute and easy to carry around, and because they’re tiny, keeping them is not that much of a problem. Usually, these small pets are just kept in cages, and general upkeep is undemanding. These are not high maintenance pets. So, if you’re a parent and your eight-year-old asked you for a dog, maybe you’d consider giving him a pocket pet first to see if he is already capable of taking care of another living thing.

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Although buying a pocket pet for your little one seems like the best thing to do instead of getting a dog or maybe another large animal that’s more difficult to care for, it’s still important for you to take the necessary safety precautions. Here are some reminders:

1. Buy your pets from certified or reliable breeders.

There are just too many pet shops out there that sell animals from mills. Most of the time, such animals are unhealthy and too young to be separated from their parents. So, they could die early and even transmit diseases or parasites.

2. Keep pets and cages clean.

Hygiene is not just vital in prolonging the life of pocket pets. Cleanliness also keeps germs away. So, make sure that pets are cleaned or bathed as recommended by breeders or vets. Also, get rid of droppings and clean cages regularly.

3. Practice good hand hygiene.

Sometimes, your little one will find it hard to resist his furry pet. Teach your child to wash his hands thoroughly before and after petting his animal. It’s important to wash beforehand because this reduces the chance of transmitting germs or bacteria to pets. Washing hands after holding an animal is also very important as this reduces the chance of spreading germs from the animal or its cage.

In Case Your Child Gets Sick…

Hamsters and mice, and other pocket pets, can transmit dangerous parasites, bacteria and viruses. Although you’ll get a healthier pet from a reliable breeder, sometimes, these pocket pets could harbor dangerous organisms without any outward signs and symptoms. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the signs that could indicate rodent-borne or animal-borne diseases. Take your child to his pediatrician if he displays any of the following symptoms:

– chest pain

– joint pain

– fever

– nausea and vomiting

– weakness

– decreased appetite

– headache

– muscle pain

The doctor would probably require further tests to check what virus is affecting your child. Most pocket pets transmit parasites, lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM), salmonella, and many other rodent-borne diseases.

In Case of an Infestation…

When pet mice escape, it can be hard to catch them. Once they’ve hidden underneath floorboards or inside walls, you won’t be able to get to them. If they escape, they could join other mice and reproduce uncontrollably; thus, increasing the mice population. When this happens, you could have a mice infestation. There are several ways to get rid of mice. You could use glue or sticky boards, rodenticide pellets, and traps. But in case of a severe infestation, there are professionals who can handle the job for you.


Claire Pritchard writes for Admiral Pest Control. This is a family-owned pest control group that can help control pests, such as mice, rats, bed bugs, ants, roaches, as well as nuisance birds.

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