Paw Prints: Good things come in small packages

March is Small Animal Awareness Month at the BC SPCA. Have you ever considered adopting a pint-sized pet?

My office roommate has her quirks – she spends most of the day snoozing, is obsessive about exercise and can be a bit self-righteous about her healthy vegetable-and-seed diet.

But I guess she can be forgiven her eccentricities given that my officemate is actually a dwarf hamster named Holly, whose spacious habitat overlooks my desk at the head office of the BC SPCA.

Like Holly, 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.

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