Small mammal, guinea pig and hamster insurance

Many who don’t want the responsibility of a cat or dog will often decide to have a small mammal. Unfortunately, vet fees for injured or unwell animals, no matter how small they are, can still be expensive.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 09 January, 2020  | 3 min read

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Key points

  • ‘Small mammals’ usually refers to animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, chinchillas and rats 
  • Specialist small mammal insurance will mean you have the correct cover in place to contribute towards vets bills or damage to their cage
  • Check your policy for exclusions carefully as things like pre-existing conditions won’t be covered

What is considered a small mammal?

The term ‘small mammals’ includes the following:

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

Why take out specialist insurance for small pets?

Vet treatments can be costly even for small mammals. Having pet insurance in place means less worry about the cost of treatment in the event your pet becomes ill or gets injured, as insurance will pay up to a specified amount - for example, £2,000 - towards vet fees.

Some pet insurance policies include additional benefits that can come in handy if your small mammal escapes or gets into trouble. 

  • Some insurers will contribute towards the cost of advertising if your small pet escapes 
  • Some policies include weather perils like wind or storm damage to a hutch or cage
  • Public liability for if your pet injures someone or damages their property

However, as with any pet insurance policy there might be exclusions related to pre-existing conditions, diet and upkeep. 

Where can I find small mammal cover?

As dogs and cats are the most popular animals in the UK, some pet insurers only offer cover for these. However, some specialist groups offer small mammal insurance or exotic pet insurance cover.

Guinea pig insurance

Guinea pigs are easier to look after than your average cat or dog, and if looked after well they can live up to eight years old. 

They are known to suffer from an array of medical issues including respiratory infections, scurvy, tumours, abscesses due to infection, urinary problems, and infestations by lice or fungus.

Treatments and vet fees can cost hundreds of pounds. Guinea pig insurance can help owners cover high veterinary costs. 

Tips for taking care of your guinea pig:

  • Feed them grass-based guinea pig pellets to provide them with vitamin C
  • Unnecessary changes to your guinea pig's diet should be avoided as they have very sensitive digestive systems
  • Keep your pet healthy by grooming their coats and checking their nails regularly to prevent them from becoming overgrown – this will also make sure that they’re comfortable with regular handling
  • While rabbits and guinea pigs may seem like they have similar needs, they shouldn’t be kept together as rabbits may bully the smaller-sized guinea pigs, which could result in vet treatment. Read more about rabbit insurance in our rabbit guide. 

Hamster insurance

Hamster insurance is harder to find than cover for your average pet cat or dog,  however they need just as much care as any other pet. 

They can be fragile and do need to be handled carefully. Hamsters can also suffer from an array of health conditions including:

  • Chronic diarrhea due to stress or poor diet
  • Hair loss
  • Respiratory infections
  • Skin disease or abscesses

Tips for taking care of your hamster:

  • Keep their cage clean
  • Feed them the correct food pellets
  • Provide your hamster with something to gnaw on to stop their teeth becoming overgrown
  • Have a wheel for them to get some exercise, and some toys or activities in their cage to keep their minds active

Ferret insurance

Ferrets usually live between six to 12 years and are relatively easy pets for working people as they sleep up to 20 hours a day. 

Their mischievous behaviour makes them a popular choice of pet. However, their playful nature means they often suffer from accidents such as broken bones, sprains and bites.

These small mammals are also known to suffer from tumours and cancers like insulinoma and adrenal disease. 

Just like hamster insurance, you might have to look for ferret insurance from a specialist provider. 

Tips for taking care of your ferret:

  • You should have your ferrets microchipped
  • Make sure your ferret is vaccinated annually for canine distemper and let the vet give them a check over at the same time
  • Provide them with plenty to do, so they don’t get bored and cause trouble during the short time that they’re awake