These adoption-worthy animals don’t get nearly as much attention as their canine and feline counterparts, but they’re domesticated, adorable and make for amazing pets.
1. Bearded dragons
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.”
2. Guinea pigs
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.
5. Sugar gliders
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.
Next Up: Chinchillas
Originally published June 2014. Updated February 2017.