Pd's are awesome pets, at least in my experience! I have 2 and they seem to be very loving, affectionate, and are very interactive with me. One of them yahoo's everytime I come home from work. When I open the cage they are both ready to jump out into my arms and mine are little snugglers.
There aren't too many pd breeders. The majority of them are caught in the wild as babies. Lynda Watson is probably the most well known PD person who does this type of thing. All of her wild caught pups are health checked for parasites, treated, and hand fed for awhile before they are sold.
The pd's got a bad rap in the whole monkey pox situation when it wasn't even their fault. An African Gambian pouch Rat was the carrier, gave it to the pd's that it was near and because of the media, people now assume that ALL pd's have monkey pox. That is NOT true. If a pd was never exposed to monkey pox, it will never get monkey pox. It's not something that they have in their body that suddenly just pops up.
Pd's do not have the same smell as a ferret. Mine have no smell at all. I clean their cage at least once a week and I have never had a problem with odor.
As far as diet goes, when they are young pups they get a small amount of dog food (Fit and Trim was recommended to me by the person I bought them from), and Timothy hay. By the time they are a year old they should have the dog food out of their diet and have mainly timothy hay and Prairie dog delight (mine didn't like that stuff
). They can also have very small amounts of sweet potato, small bits of carrots, and I have even heard of pd's liking green beans. Mine absolutely love shredded wheat for an occasional treat. They should never be given candy or chips, or "junk" food type of things, and food high in corn should be avoided because pd's can become obese very easily. The main thing is that they have plenty of timothy hay. I buy my hay from Oxbow online.
How big they get depends on the pd. I have one that is maybe 2 pounds, my other one is a little over 1 pound. I think generally they are from 1-3 pounds.
Cage size depends on how many you have. I believe my cage is about 4 foot tall and about 2 1/2 foot wide. You have to be careful with cages that don't have full floors because pd's have no depth perception and can easily fall and injure themselves. The same goes for when you have them out playing. Never leave them alone on a couch. They could very easily fall and hurt themselves. They have no idea that they are about to fall off of a cliff.
From what I have read their life span averages about 7-9 years. I think 7 is more the norm.
Do you have to have 2? It depends. Pd's NEED AND CRAVE attention. They will literally go insane if they are the only pd and left alone all of the time. They are VERY social creatures and need interaction. If you don't have alot of time to spend with them, don't get one. They are not a pet that can be put in a cage and forgotten about. They can die of loneliness. I got a second one so that my first one wouldn't get lonely when I was at work, and to be honest with you, I loved the first one so much that I just had to get another one.
As of right now I believe they still have a ban on buying pd's.