A pet owner – a very passionate pet owner – generally buys or rescue a pet, planning to be in it for the long haul. They picture themselves sitting on a porch with their sweet old dog after the kids have gone off to school, or taking the cat they’ve had for years to college.
Rodent owners usually don’t have expectations like that though. The truth is, our dear little friends will not live as long as we would like. Mice, rats, hamsters, and gerbils all live four years or less. You’re a little luckier with a guinea pig, because a guinea pig can live about seven years, max. Then there’s chinchillas. Those could actually live as long as, or longer than, the average housecat.
It’s a tough decision, to love something that you know won’t even live as long as it would take to get your Bachelor’s degree. But rodent owners – with the exception of those who own guinea pigs, chinchillas, and degus – accept this and readily fall in love with their short-lived friends.
The short life spans make it all the more important to spend quality time and share love with our rodent friends. The great thing about owning a pet with such a limited lifespan is the knowledge that every day together counts for something.
Some animals, like hamsters, are loners and want to live in an environment with just you and them. When one of them dies, the owner can take their time grieving and can decide whether or not to adopt a new little friend.
But some, like rats and mice, do not do well if their cagemate dies. Despite the grief of losing your friend, it’s important to quickly introduce them to new friends after one is lost. The endless cycle can become very emotionally tiresome after a while for the owner. But it’s something that is a necessity for the grieving rodent left behind.
It’s painful to love something that dies so quickly, but there’s something beautiful about it. Each little personality brought into our life with each pet is a unique and exciting thing. It’s something that shouldn’t be passed up out of fear of loss.