Pocket Pet Safety

"Pocket pets" are smaller size animals that are usually kept in cages or aquariums. The term ‘pocket pets' usually refers to furry mammals such as:
  • Gerbils
  • Guinea pigs
  • Hamsters
  • Mice
  • Pygmy hedgehogs
  • Rats
Hamster Graphic
Other popular caged pets such as reptiles (snakes, lizards, and turtles), amphibians (toads, frogs, salamanders) and birds (chicks, ducklings, parakeets, etc.) can also be considered pocket pets.

Caring for pocket pets can be lots of fun and even educational. However, pocket pet ownership comes with some risks and important responsibilities, too. It's important you learn how to take care of your pocket pet properly not only to keep it healthy, but also to keep you and your family healthy and safe.

Diseases


It is natural for many pocket pets to carry germs (bacteria and viruses) that can make you and your family sick. Every year across the country, thousands of people become sick with bacterial infections that come from unsafe pet care and handling. Here are some diseases that pocket pets can potentially carry:
Reptiles / Amphibians

Prevention


It's important you learn how to take care of your pocket pet properly not only to keep it healthy, but also to keep you and your family healthy and safe. Here are some important tips:
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling animals, their food or habitat (e.g. cage, bedding, etc.).
  • Keep pets in their habitat and do not allow them to roam the house, especially in areas where young children interact.
  • Keep pets and their habitat out of the kitchen where food is prepared and served, as well as areas where dishes are cleaned.
  • Do not kiss your pet or let it kiss you. Keep your pet away from your face.
  • Choose the right pet for your family. Some pets are not appropriate for young children, elderly people and people with weakened immune systems.
  • Schedule routine veterinary evaluations, and be sure to take your pet to the veterinarian if it looks sick.