PAW PRINTS: Good things come in small packages
By Lorie Chortyk
Last year, a friend “gifted” me a furry little hamster that her downstairs tenants had left behind when they moved. While I wasn’t really looking to add to my menagerie of pets, Homer was clearly in need of a new guardian and he now happily makes his home in a spacious aquarium in my office at the BC SPCA. Like Homer, hundreds of hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits and other small animals are surrendered to the SPCA and are in need of loving homes. Each year the BC SPCA designates March as Small Animal Month to draw attention to these wonderful pint-sized pets available for adoption at shelters across the province.
Small animals are often overlooked, perhaps because people don’t see them as “real” pets. But rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, rats and hamsters come with delightful and inquisitive personalities, fascinating behaviours and the ability to enrich our lives. While Homer’s nocturnal habits make him a quiet and unassuming office-mate, he regularly rouses himself from sleep to greet colleagues or visitors who pop by – in the hopes they may have brought along a hamster treat or two. He also has very particular home design ideas and spends hours rearranging the tubes, toys and treats I put into his habitat to get the look “just right”.
Small animals are great for people who have pet restrictions where they live. They don’t take up a lot of space or make much noise. But small animals do have unique care needs and, as with cats and dogs, people should familiarize themselves with the animal’s characteristics to ensure a suitable match.
So, before you head out to a BC SPCA shelter to adopt, check out our pet care pages first to learn what you need to do to keep your potential pet happy and healthy. Then, should you feel ready to bring a small animal (or two!) into your life, check our adoption listings (spca.bc.ca) or stop by a shelter to find one just right for you.
– Lorie Chortyk is General Manager, Community Relations for the BC SPCA.