If a dog is just too big for your home and your budget, but you still want to offer a loving home to a pet, then it might be sensible to consider the smaller animals like rabbits, guinea pigs or even mice or gerbils. The principles of how to choose the right pet remain similar to choosing a breed of dog, however. You need to work out your budget, which must cover the initial purchase of the pet plus a hutch/run or cage and vaccinations if required. The on-costs will be food, bedding, toys and accessories, perhaps insurance and vet visits – in the main to keep vaccinations up to date. Even small pets need quite a lot of space and rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets in particular need a good sized hutch with a run that offers them plenty of scope for exercise. Some rodents and other small animals are social by nature and are best kept in non-breeding groups or pairs (like rabbits and guinea pigs). That means slightly more cost and having adequate space. Some small animals are nocturnal so suit families that are away from home during the day. All small animals benefit from a daily regime of gentle handling and socialising – so make sure you’re really able to commit enough time to them! However the rewards of owning these little critters are tremendous, and will soon repay all the time, money and effort.