Bearded dragons are very gentle and kind, plus easy to maintain — making them great pets for families, says Dr. Randi Haberkorn, a veterinarian at Meadow Veterinary Hospital in White Plains, New York. However, squeamish beware — they do require live food. "They need to eat crickets or worms, as well as fresh vegetables, so one must be close to a pet store that carries live food," she said. "On average, a trip to the pet store weekly is necessary."
If you love small furry animals, guinea pigs might be for you. They are gentle and easy to care for, however they require daily human attention and thrive if they have a second guinea pig buddy since they are herd animals, Haberkorn says. Their diet consists of hay, fresh veggies and pellets.
Another popular furry choice, rabbits make great pets, but like guinea pigs, need attention. "They require a lot of hay in their diet, so before buying one, make certain there are no allergies to timothy hay," Haberkorn advises. Rabbits live on average 10 years, so make sure everyone in the home is on the same page before taking on this commitment. Need more advice? Here are some rabbit care tips, courtesy of the ASPCA.
If you or someone in your house is allergic to fur, fish are a great alternative. According to the Humane Society of the U.S., fish make great pets, but it's important to do research so you provide your new scaly friends with the right environment and a happy life. Items to look into include water temperature, food, filters, aquarium size and other care tips. Want to know more? Here's everything you need to know about caring for fish.
If you're looking for a unique pet, sugar gliders are an exotic pet that has been quickly gaining in popularity over the past 10 years. They are a small marsupial in the possum family, averaging just 6 inches in length with soft gray fur and a black dorsal stripe. As exotic pets, they do have special needs, but are not difficult and can be a very rewarding experience, says Suz Enyedy, director of veterinary services for The Glider Initiative.
Chinchillas have the softest coat around, and are very, very cute. But, they require a relatively large cage and can be very nervous, so it takes them a long time to get used to being handled by people, Haberkorn says. They are also very delicate, so save these pets for older children and adults.
No, hamsters and guinea pigs are not the same, though they are both cute and small. One drawback to having a hamster is that they tend to be active at night — making this a parent's worst foe when trying to get their kids to sleep. "They are mainly fun to watch since they don't like to cuddle, although they will tolerate being held," Haberkorn says. They are a low-maintenance pet, but unfortunately, they have a short life span of only one to three years.
If you've ever wanted to have a bird, gray cheeked parakeets are a great choice. They're like a parrot — only in a smaller package. However, make sure you're committed to having this pet for the long haul — they can live at least 35 years. "They are smart, fun, inquisitive and very interactive," Haberkorn advises. They also form very strong human bonds, and seem to have individual personalities.
Well-cared-for turtles can live up to 25 to 50 years — even more on occasion. While it's tempting to put turtles in tanks, they thrive better in habitats that replicate nature, such as a pond where there is real sunlight — allowing them to grow naturally and develop strong bones, says Susan Tellem with the American Tortoise Rescue. They also are carnivores — so they must eat live food like snails, fish and worms.
Pigs are one of the smartest animals on Earth — even smarter than dogs and 3-year-old children. Before you invite these intelligent creatures into your life, however, it's best to do research on what having a pig as a pet entails. After all, they can live up to 20 years. Here's all you need to know about caring for these adorable creatures, courtesy of the rescue group, Lil'Orphan Hammies.
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