4 Places to Adopt Guinea Pigs, Rabbits, Hamsters, Gerbils, and Other Pocket Pets

Give a Needy Small Animal a Home

Animal adoption save lives. Between 20 and 30 percent of dogs and cats are adopted from shelters, according to the ASPCA. These lucky pets get a new lease on life, but what about their smaller counterparts?

Most people think of pet stores when they decide to add a ferret, chinchilla, guinea pig, rabbit hamster, gerbil, mouse, or rat to their family. They don't realize that many animal shelters handle pocket pets and that there are many other adoption sources. The list below discusses four...MORE such sources.

  • 01 of 04

    Craigslist and Other Classified Sites

    Guinea Pig Adoption
    Amy the guinea pig came from Craigslist. Barb Nefer

    Most people think of Craigslist as a place to find cars, furniture, and apartments, but it has a thriving category for pet rehoming, too. Sure, you'll find lots of cats and dogs, but there are plenty of pocket pets among the listings.

    If you're looking for a rabbit, guinea pig, ferret, or even smaller animals like rats, mice, gerbils, and hamsters, check out Craigslist and other online classified ad sites. If you have pet stores in your area, you'll have unwanted animals bought on a...MORE whim and owners desperate to rehome them.

    One advantage of getting your pocket pet on Craigslist is that it might come with all its supplies. I adopted my guinea pig, Amy, via a Craigslist ad. She came with a cage, wood shavings for bedding, food pellets, a bag of hay, and several other items. 

    Beware of breeders using Craigslist to sell rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, and other small pets. Although the terms of service forbid breeders and sales, many pose as people trying to rehome accidental litters. You can usually spot them when you're aware of this tactic.

  • 02 of 04

    Small Animal Rescues

    You may already know that you can adopt certain cat and dog breeds through dedicated rescues, but many people don't realize that rescues also exist for guinea pigs, bunnies, and other small pets.

    These rescues often list adoptable animals on www.petfinder.com. Just select "Small and Furry" to see them. Depending on your area, you'll find everything from hamsters to chinchillas. Your local pet store might also know of small animal rescues, since some work with these organizations...MORE doing in-store adoptions or education days.

    When you adopt from a small animal rescue, you have reasonable assurance that your new pet is healthy and that it's been properly sexed. It's hard to tell males from females in some pocket pet species, so you could end up with babies if you adopt a missexed pair.

    A small animal rescue will also educate you on things you might not know about caring for a particular species. For example, most pet store cages are too small for animals like guinea pigs and rabbits, and they need hay and vegetables to stay healthy. A reputable rescue makes sure you have all the knowledge you need when you adopt your new pet.

  • 03 of 04

    Animal Shelters

    Guina Pig Adoption
    Borat the guinea pig was adopted from an animal shelter. Barb Nefer

    You might be surprised to learn that animal shelters and animal control facilities often get in pocket pets. An exasperated pet owner doesn't know what to do with his chinchilla, ferret, or guinea pig. He remembers that the humane society has a shelter in town, so he heads over and drops off the animal.

    I adopted my guinea pig Borat from a shelter that mainly deals with dogs and cats, although it also had guinea pigs, bunnies, and birds on the day I picked my piggy up. You potentially save an...MORE animal from being euthanized when you adopt from a shelter, since most have limited space and too many pets being dropped off.

    Educate yourself about the species you wish to adopt if you opt for a shelter animal. Shelters are used to cats and dogs, but many have little knowledge about pocket pets. I was told Borat was a female when I adopted him, but I soon discovered he was all boy.

  • 04 of 04

    Pet Stores

    Guinea Pig Adoption
    Quinn was adopted after being dropped off at a Petco store. Barb Nefer

    I don't advocate buying small animals from pet stores because most come from breeding mills that are on a par with puppy mills. However, some pet stores offer adoptions of unwanted rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, and other small critters.

    I adopted my guinea pig, Quinn, at the local Petco. She was passed between two families with kids who quickly lost interest in her, then dropped off at the store. I was required to make a donation to the spay/neuter fund as her adoption...MORE fee.

    You may get some free supplies if you do a pet store adoption. The store where I got Quinn includes whatever supplies the animal arrived with as part of the deal.