Top Five Cheap and Easy Pets
Many people want a pet that is both cheap and easy. This is especially true of kids who are trying to convince their parents to get them a pet. No pet is truly cheap or easy; other than perhaps a pet rock. To be fair to those folks who actually want a living pet, the following list is a few animals that should be considered. Remember - no pet is “maintenance-free” all pets require some care, feeding, and responsibility.
Photo by my husband
There are lots of different insects a person can keep, some need to eat other insects, the praying mantis would be an example of this. These are certainly cheaper than most pets but may not be easy as it means a person must supply live food for their pet. As such the vegetarian insects, those that eat leaves and such, are the cheapest and easiest pet on this list.
A good example of a vegetarian insect is the Walking Stick. These can be kept in a small jar or even a goldfish type bowl, as long as they have a lid. A small aquarium of 5-10 gallons is even better if you are to keep more than 1 pet or wish to breed them.
In the summer one only has to go outside and pick leaves off their own garden plants to feed them (provided the leaves have not be sprayed with anything). They love apple leaves, raspberry, and sassafras. In the winter they can be fed a leave or two of romaine lettuce every few days. Other than that all they need is a stick to climb on (for skin shedding) and a regular misting, and a damp sponge to drink from.
Hermit Crabs have a long lifespan so while kids might be looking for a simple pet, they find themselves with a 10 year commitment.
Fortunately Hermit Crabs don't need a lot of space, a small container will do just fine, it needs to have floor space but does not need to be tall. They need a place with water and land. Hermit crabs are easier than most pets because they do not need to be taken out and exercised regularly. The concerns with them are that as they grow they must shed the shell they live in and move into a larger one. As such the most important step for care of these animals is to provide them with alternative shells for their growth.
Most pet supply stores sell a pellet hermit crab food and as such feeding is relatively easy. Their tank does not need a lot of maintenance but should be cleaned monthly.
As easy as Betta fish are many owners get sloppy in their care and kill their fish prematurely. Betta fish have a lifespan of over 5 years, a fact that you may want to consider.
Most Bettas that are sold in the stores are males, being prettier and usually having longer fins than the females. Although they can be kept with other fish if the tank is large enough, they do quite well on their own and should not be kept with other Bettas. Males will even fight females when the female is not in her breeding pattern.
Bettas are easier, and cheaper, than most other fish because their tank set up does not need to be as elaborate. For example they do not need an air pump or filter. They do like their water to be warm, so a warmer house is preferred, and do require water changes (although they are more tolerant of dirty water than some other fish).
Never buy a Betta fish from a place that keeps them in tiny cups. Not only are you rewarding cruelty but risk buying a stressed and unhealthy pet.
photo from photos8.com
Goldfish are often mistakenly thought of as a very easy fish, however many people make a simple mistake that actually stunts these animals. Goldfish should not be kept in goldfish bowls. Some places, such as Rome, have even ruled this as cruel and inhumane, making it illegal. It is not true that goldfish will only grow to the size of the bowl. In fact small bowls stunt the fish because the water gets dirty so quickly even with only one fish.
Additionally goldfish are not as “dumb” as people once thought, they have been found to be able to learn to swim through mazes.
Different types of goldfish grow to different sizes, a person needs to learn how large their fish will grow and provide the right size tank. While goldfish do not need air pumps, a filter or regular water changes are a must.
For those with the ability, goldfish can be kept in outdoor ponds. Many people in cold climates then keep the fish in a large indoor aquarium over the winter.
You might have expected to see hamsters, or some other rodent on this list, but they are not actually all that easy to care for and need more time out of their cages than most people give, as well they should have much larger cages than most people house them in, so even small rodents are a lot of work and expense.
Bantam Chickens are smaller than regular birds and do well as pets. Most people keep them outdoors in a chicken coop. While many people think of chickens as smelly animals, if not keep overcrowded they are not smelly at all.
Hens generally make better pets simply because they are not as loud as roosters. The main benefit of keeping pet chickens is, of course, eggs! Hens do not need roosters to lay eggs. *Always check area laws in regards to keeping chickens.
As far as cost and care, chickens can be bought relatively cheap, if one knows where to look. Go to your local livestock feed store and ask about local Odd and Unusual livestock auctions, or if they sell chickens, or know who does. Just as with cats and dogs, there are many different Bantam Chicken breeds.
Pet chickens need a shelter for night, which can be an old shed. It must have a place for them to roost, and a nesting box (1 nesting box for every 3-4 birds). In the day they can be out and will eat bugs when allowed, as such you should not use pesticides. Hens will need to be fed laying ration and can be given chicken scratch as a treat. They will need a waterer, and grit. If you use the right kind of feeders, they may only need to be filled up once a week.
As far as cleaning duties go, the hens should be checked at least once daily for eggs (they generally don't lay, or lay less in the winter), but again, if not crowded, the coop itself may not need to be cleaned more than once every few weeks.
Remember in most areas it is illegal to catch and keep any wild animal. Always buy your pets from reputable sellers.