October 2, 2023

Wolf Fun

Plink Plink Pets

Small Animal Rescue: Where to Adopt Your Next Pocket Pet

portrait of a guinea pig

Are you looking to add a new member to your family? Small animals also affectionately called ‘Pocket Pets’ are a popular choice for family pets. They may be small, but they aren’t lacking in personality or love to share! While these pets are often purchased from local pet stores, another option to find your new family member is through small animal rescue.

When most people think about animal rescue, their mind instantly goes to dogs and cats. This isn’t surprising considering the large number of rescue dogs and rescue cats searching for their forever homes.

What you may not realize is that you can also adopt a small animal in need including rabbits, ferrets, hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, and more.

Before you jump on Google and search “small animal adoption near me”, there are a few important factors to consider. This includes choosing the best small animal for your family and your lifestyle as well as identifying reputable rescues to work with in your journey to find your new family member.

To help you get started, I have put together this guide to small animal rescue.

Which Small Animal is Right for Your Family?

There are many different small animals that make incredible pets. So, how do you choose the best small animal for you and your home?  Here are a few key factors to help guide your decision.

Available Space

Take a moment to assess the space that you have available in your home to accommodate your new pet. While the animals that we are talking about are smaller in size than a cat or dog, some of these pets need quite a bit of space for a proper habitat.

Guinea pigs, for example, require a larger habitat because they can’t use an exercise wheel to accommodate their exercise needs.

For this reason, a single guinea pig should be given a minimum of 7.5 square feet. This space requirement goes up even higher if you introduce a second guinea pig, which is recommended due to their social personalities, the space needed for your guinea pig habitat is even greater.

Meanwhile, the minimum recommended cage size for a single mouse is 18 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 12 inches high.


When considering your budget for your new friend, don’t stop with the initial costs to adopt and set up a habitat. There are also ongoing costs including food, supplies to maintain their habitat, and veterinary costs.

Rabbits have a reputation for being troublemakers, getting themselves into situations that could cause injuries. They are also prone to several diseases and illnesses.


Take a hard look at your lifestyle and the lifestyle of any family members. Are you going to be home to offer the ongoing care and level of attention that some animals need? 

Sugar gliders can become depressed if they don’t have regular social interaction. They are best suited for a family that is going to be home often enough to give them the level of attention and socialization that they require.

Meanwhile, hamsters can thrive when left alone for long periods of time if they have adequate food and water, space to move about, and an exercise wheel.  They are a great pet choice for those who may work longer hours or maintain a busy daily schedule.

Level of Affection

Finally, how important is it to you that your pet is going to enjoy affection and human interaction. While some pets thrive off being held and played with, others prefer to be left alone.

Guinea pigs are highly social and are known to bond with their people. They are a great choice for those that are seeking that level of connection.

pet rat standing on a table | Small Animal Rescue: Where to Adopt Your Next Pocket Pet

What is the Easiest Small Animal to Take Care Of?

Any small pet adoption is going to come with a level of commitment on your part.  But there are some small animals that require more time and effort on your part than others.

One of the questions that I hear the most often when it comes to small animal rescue and adoption is which pet would be easiest to care for. This is especially common among families with children that are considering a pet for their child to care for as an opportunity to learn responsibility.

Smaller rodents like mice, gerbils, hamsters, and rats are popular choices. However, hamsters tend to bite and may not be the best choice for young children.

Why Adopting a Pet is Better Than Buying

I am a strong believer that there is a place for buying a pet from a reputable breeder. But most families can find an incredible pet through the small animal rescue network.

Making this decision means that you are not only saving the life of the pet you adopt, but you’re also freeing up resources to save other pets moving forward. This includes both space in the rescue (or foster homes) and finances for their care.

Other benefits of rescuing a pet include:

  • Lower upfront costs
  • Fully veterinary care before bringing your pet home
  • Support animal rights efforts
  • Avoid supporting ‘breeding factories’ and inhumane conditions
  • Help reduce overpopulation

Most importantly, you will be bringing home a pet that will give you just as much love as any pet from a pet store or breeder, if not more. While some people may claim that animals don’t respond emotionally to their past, those who adopt a rescue pet know the truth!

Where to Find a Small Animal Rescue

Now that you have decided on the best pet for you and your family, it’s time to search for a small animal rescue. For many, this process can be a challenge.

While there are many great shelters and rescue organizations across the country and around the world, the number that offer small pet adoption is limited. If you’re looking for where to adopt a rabbit, hamster, rat, or any other small animal, I have some suggestions to kickstart your search.

Local Shelters and Rescue Organizations

A great starting point is to check your local shelters and humane societies. While most of these organizations will focus their efforts largely on cats and dogs, they may have other pets like guinea pigs or rabbits for adoption.

 If you don’t notice these animals listed on their website, don’t give up hope yet.

Contact your local shelter and express your interest in small pet adoption. Even if they don’t have any small animals in their care, they may be able to direct you to a local contact to rescue small animals.

hamster eating from bowl in cage | Small Animal Rescue: Where to Adopt Your Next Pocket Pet

Petfinder Online Searches

If you’ve been following the Shed Happens blog or social media accounts, then you know that I am a huge fan of pet adoption websites like Petfinder.  They allow the rescue community to reach potential adopters without being limited by location.

When visiting the homepage of Petfinder, you will see the option to search ‘Other Animals’. This will open a larger list of pet choices including ‘Rabbits’ and ‘Small & Furry’.

Here, you can search based on your postal code, setting a radius for how far you are willing to travel. If you are open to making any location work, select ‘Anywhere’ under the radius. This will then return a list of available pets for adoption. 

Click on the picture of any pet that catches your attention to view their full profile, details about the organization that is currently caring for them, and contact information.

Small Animal Rescue Organizations


Against All Odds Rabbit Rescue

All Creatures Rescue

Archie’s Angels Rabbit Rescue

Ferret Rescue & Education Society

Ferret Rescue Society of Ottawa and Area

Ladybird Animal Sanctuary

Pumpkin’s Acres Rabbit Rescue Inc.


Tiny Paws Rabbit Rescue

Vancouver Island Ferret Education & Rescue Team

United States

Cullen’s Archangel Rescue

Ferret Dreams Rescue and Adoption

Fur Angels Animal Sanctuary

Furever Home Ferret Rescue & Sanctuary

Greater Chicago Ferret Association

Happy Camper Ferret Rescue

Heartland Small Animal Rescue, Inc.

Kindness Matters Ferret Rescue

Last Chance Ranch Animal Rescue

Sammy’s Clubhouse Spokane Ferret Rescue and Education

Scales & Tails Rescue

Sean Casey Animal Rescue

Texas Ferret Lover’s Rescue

West Michigan Ferret Connection

rat standing on table pin | Small Animal Rescue: Where to Adopt Your Next Pocket Pet

Have you adopted from a small animal rescue organization before? If so, I invite you to share your experiences and any advice you may have for first-time adopters in the comments below!