Little Critters, Long Life Spans

Too many small animals wind up abandoned or surrendered because new owners found out, too late, that the animals required more care than they bargained for. All too often, the animals were bought impulsively with about as much thought as folks typically give a last-second purchase of gum, or in response to birthday or holiday list demands that echo the same tone and urgency that a child would give to a similar wish for the latest buzzworthy toy.

Most people do not realize that these small exotic animals have fairly long life spans, some rivaling that of cats and dogs. Consider the following:

  • Chinchillas: 15 years (average lifespan); 20+ years (not-so-average lifespan)
  • Ferrets: 6 years (average lifespan); 10 years (not-so-average lifespan)
  • Guinea Pigs: 5-7 years (average lifespan); 8-9 years (not-so-average lifespan)
  • Hedgehogs: 4-5 years (average lifespan); 6 years (not-so-average lifespan)
  • Rabbits: 10-12 years (average lifespan); 15 years (not-so-average lifespan)

With initial costs of the pets themselves ranging from $40 to $250 each, and initial setup costs (e.g., cages, cage accessories, etc.) ranging from $100 to $400, the small exotics are also significant financial investments. Daily and weekly care needs quickly add to the cost of ownership, and veterinarian costs for wellness checks  and sick care can leave owners stunned (especially in the more expensive counties around the country).