Whether we agree with it or not, small pets are frequently one of the initial steps parents take to teach kids about responsibility. When there's a living, breathing, and often very cuddly creature sharing the household with them, children naturally become involved in ensuring that the animal thrives and lives its best life.

Pets Are Popular, Regardless of Size

In fact, according to Forbes, while cats and dogs remain the most common pets in American homes in 2024, totaling 111 million households, alternative pets such as fish, small pets, and birds are present in a significant 24 million households.

A common mistake parents make is not fully grasping the needs of these sometimes delicate creatures. Moreover, many people struggle to even identify certain types of animals.

'Pocket Pets' Are Not Easier to Care For

I consider myself quite the enthusiast when it comes to what's commonly known as 'pocket pets'—guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and other adorable critters that scurry and dart around. Without proper care and knowledge, these fuzzballs can quickly turn your household upside down.

Guinea pigs, gerbils, and hamsters are often mentioned interchangeably, but it's important to recognize that despite all being rodents, they are distinct animals with unique requirements when it comes to food, housing and activity levels.

Can Tell the Difference Between Common Household Pets?
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They're Cute, But They Can Pack a Punch, er, Bite

Let's take gerbils for example (we aren't telling you if there's a gerbil in the above photo). These little guys may look cute in their large enclosure at the pet store, but they need friends, so bank on getting two. The Humane Society points out that gerbils are very active and, not unlike your adorable little Bobby, are always active—not just during the day, but at night. A slower, easier-to-catch guinea pig might be a better choice if this sounds like your situation.

We've established that all pets are unique, much like people. But can you identify them just by looking at a photo? We've put together a collection of cute characters representing common household creatures to put your knowledge to the test.

LOOK: Can you tell the difference between these common pets?

Can you tell the difference between a hamster and a guinea pig? How about a betta and a guppy? Test your pet ID skills in our cute quiz. 

Gallery Credit: Stephen Lenz

LOOK: Here are the pets banned in each state

Because the regulation of exotic animals is left to states, some organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, advocate for federal, standardized legislation that would ban owning large cats, bears, primates, and large poisonous snakes as pets.

Read on to see which pets are banned in your home state, as well as across the nation.

Gallery Credit: Elena Kadvany