Did you know that certain animals are considered less adoptable, simply due to their color or gender? In the same way that black dogs and black cats are often left behind in shelters, many small animals are passed over for adoption simply for their appearance.
When you adopt your next pet, we encourage you to adopt based on the personality and suitability of a pet for you and your unique situation, and not based on their color or gender (unless you are looking for a match for a social pet of the same gender!). Did you know that an albino rat in our rescue will have to wait for a home, on average, four times as long as a rat with colored markings? Did you know that a male animal in our rescue will on average, wait twice as long as a female animal to be adopted?
Red is the color of love
Albino animals are often passed up for adoption in rescues and shelters for a varietyof reasons. Many people will cite that they do not want an animal with "scary" red eyes. Others believe that an albino will be more susceptible to health problems. While it is true that an albino animal will have poorer vision then an animal with dark eyes, this is not a handicap to a rodent that already comes with very poor vision. Color is also not a guarantee of health, as they are some health disorders that are specific to exotic breeds and colors of animals (Silkie breed guinea pigs can suffer from bone degeneration, Australian blue rats can suffer from a suppressed immune function, etc.).
It has been established that albino rats have impaired vision, smell, and motor skills as compared to pigmented rats in laboratory studies. Does that sound bad? Then keep in mind that rats already have poor vision, estimated recently to be around 20/600, and do not see color particularly well. It was noted that albino rats reacted less to pungent odors, and were less riled by the scent of a female in heat. When their motor skills were compared to pigmented rats, it was on a test to see how they grabbed for a pellet of food...despite the albino rats largely doing it differently then the pigmented rats, they enjoyed the same success rate.
Males and Females can both be great pets
In small companion animals, a female is much more likely to be adopted then a male by default. This can be because of the perception of a female animal being cleaner, or with certain animals, an owner not liking the appearance of testicles on a male animal.
In most small animal species, there is No Difference between a male and a female animal in terms of their default personality. There may also be no difference in cleanliness or hormonal behaviors.
Chinchillas, Guinea Pigs and Syrian Hamsters and Dwarf Hamsters do not have distinctly different personalities between male and female. The personality difference lies with the individual animal and their unique personality. Social groupings of male Chinchillas, Guinea Pigs, or social dwarf hamsters (dwarf hamsters only!) are not more likely to fight then a social group of female animals. Syrian Hamsters are, of course, strictly solitary animals once they reach maturity, but there is little personality difference between a male and a female hamster.
Male rats often get a bad rap for urine marking, but did you know that female rats urine mark as well? Both genders of rats urine mark to some extent, as this is their way of identifying their home territory, as well as food, and other rats. The frequency of urine marking also depends on the rat's social status (dominant vs. submissive), and with females, if they are in heat or not. In male rats that urine mark, neutering can drastically reduce the behavior...however, all rats will urine mark as it is a social behavior.
Male mice are also stigmatized for urine marking, but who wouldn't want their nest to smell like home? Much in the same way that humans will set out their familiar things and potpourris when moving into a new house, a male mouse needs to feel secure in his own space. If odor is a problem, you can add Marshall's Bi-Odor to your mouse's water to help reduce the smell of urine. It is best not to go crazy cleaning your cage, as it only upsets your male mouse's need to feel at home and he will re-mark his cage. You can even help curb this behavior by leaving a little bit of old bedding when you clean his cage, to let him know that all is well in the world.
Don't let age stop you!
Did you know that once small animal is over three months old, their chances of being adopted start going down hill? Many people are under the impression that they will not be able to bond with an animal that is not still young and impressionable, or that it will not bond with their current pet. Nothing can be further from the truth.
The success of your small animal bonding with you is directly related to how much time you spend with them and nothing else. A baby animal is no more likely to bond directly with you then an adult, and in many cases, may be less receptive and more suspicious of you while they are still learning what human contact is about.
In the same fashion as puppies and kittens, baby animals take more work and need a more dedicated environment to become properly socialized in. While small animals grow up fast, many people forget that even small animals go through a "puppy" stage where they are more likely to nibble, urinate on you, poop, scratch or run away. This is all part of growing up as they learn what the wide world, and their place in it, is all about.
When you adopt an adult or juvenile animal, you generally can get a better idea of what that animal's unique personality will be as they grow up. While small animals have a shorter life span then other pets, you may not be taking such a gamble by adopting an animal who is 6 months to a year old. Remember, the average life span for a rat is 2-3 years, with some living as old as five years. There is a similar "average" gap in all species of small companion animals.
Give them a chance!
When you go to adopt your next companion, take a second look at the animals that are most often passed over. That pair of super gentle male guinea pigs may be a better match for your kids then the rowdy females who don't peacefully live together, or the big bunny with the pink eyes might have great litter box habits...better then the adorable little dwarf with a bad digging habit. The most important factor is suitability to your life and living situation, and keeping this in mind will ensure that you and your new pet will have happy years to come.