Small mammal insurance

If you want a pet but would prefer a little critter to a dog or cat, small mammals such as guinea pigs or hamsters make great alternatives. Unfortunately, no matter what their size, vet fees for injured or sick pets can still be expensive…

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 16 May 2023  | 3 min read
Reviewed by Jasmine Hembury

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Small mammals make great pets – they can be just as affectionate as a dog or cat with the proper handling. But it’s important to remember that just because they’re small, it doesn’t mean they don’t need a lot of care and space.

And when it comes to pet insurance, small mammals need just as much protection against accidental injury or illness. Their size alone can make them vulnerable in any home, so small mammal insurance is definitely a safe bet.

Our guide explains what to look for in your small mammal insurance policy so costs are covered if your pint-sized pet ever does need to visit the vet.

What are small mammals?

In terms of pet insurance, the term “small mammal” includes the following:

  • Guinea pigs
  • Hamsters
  • Chinchillas
  • Gerbils
  • Ferrets
  • Mice
  • Rats

Rabbits sometimes fall into this category, but you’d be better off finding dedicated rabbit pet insurance for them.

Why take out small mammal insurance?

Even for small mammals, pet insurance can be expensive. Taking out small mammal insurance means you have less to worry about if your pet gets ill or injured, as the policy will pay vet fees up to a specified amount.

Some pet insurers offer additional benefits that can come in handy if you have a small mammal, like:

  • Contribution towards the cost of advertising if your pet escapes or is stolen
  • Provision for weather-related damage to outdoor hutches and cages

But, as with any pet insurance policy, you must look out for exclusions relating to pre-existing conditions, diet and care.

Guinea pig insurance

Guinea pigs can live up to eight years old if you look after them well enough.

Unfortunately, they are also known to suffer from a wide range of medical issues, including respiratory infections, scurvy, tumours, abscesses due to infection, urinary problems, and lice or fungal infestations.

If your guinea pig gets sick, small mammal insurance will help cover the cost of visiting a vet, which can be high depending on their condition.

Tips for taking care of your guinea pig

When looking after a guinea pig, you should always:

  • Feed them a suitable and varied diet so they get their full range of nutrients
  • Avoid unnecessary changes to their diet, as guinea pigs have very sensitive digestive systems
  • Groom their coats regularly to make sure they’re comfortable with regular handling
  • Trim their nails on a regular basis to prevent them from becoming overgrown

Also, DO NOT keep rabbits and guinea pigs together in the same hutch! Although it may seem like they have similar needs, rabbits may become territorial and bully the smaller-sized guinea pigs, which could result in them needing treatment from the vet.

Hamster insurance

Small mammal insurance can be harder to find for hamsters, but they need just as much protection as any other pet.

Because of their tiny size, hamsters are fragile and need to be handled carefully. They can also suffer from extensive health conditions, such as hair loss, respiratory infections, skin disease, abscesses, and even chronic diarrhoea (often brought on by stress or poor diet).

This is why small mammal insurance should be top priority when it comes to covering your hamster’s care costs.

Tips for taking care of your hamster

When looking after a hamster, you should always:

  • Keep their cage clean
  • Feed them the correct amount of food pellets
  • Provide them with something to gnaw on, so their teeth don’t become overgrown
  • Make sure they have a suitably-sized wheel to get some exercise, plus other toys and activities in their cage to keep their minds occupied

Ferret insurance

Sleeping up to 20 hours a day, ferrets are popular with working people. But they do cram a lot of activity into the few hours they are awake. Their mischievous, playful behaviour makes them great small pets for children, too, with the right type of handling.

Ferrets usually live between six and 12 years of age, but their cheeky nature means they often suffer accidents such as broken bones, sprains and bites from other animals.

In terms of sickness, ferrets are known to be susceptible to tumours and cancers like insulinoma, as well as adrenal disease.

Small mammal insurance for your ferret may require you taking out coverage with a specialist provider.

Tips for taking care of your ferret

When looking after a ferret, you should always:

  • Have them microchipped
  • Make sure they are vaccinated annually for canine distemper
  • Book regular annual checkups for them
  • Give them plenty to do, so they don’t get bored and cause trouble during the short time they’re awake

Where can I find small mammal insurance?

As dogs and cats are the most popular pets in the UK, some pet insurers may only offer cover for them.

There are, however, plenty of specialist pet insurance providers that offer small mammal insurance and exotic pet cover, too.

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