Cats and dogs aren’t the only animals that adapt well to live inside a home. Many other animals are legal to keep as pets and can be just as affectionate. If you don’t have enough time or space for traditional pets, one of these animals might be a better choice for your family and lifestyle.
Chickens are relatively easy and inexpensive to care for – and they can even bond with their humans. As a bonus, your hens can lay delicious eggs, most healthy hens lay one egg per day. You will have to register your chickens, build or purchase a coop, but once you get started, daily upkeep is minimal. Each day, you can do some light cleaning and provide fresh food and water. Some table scraps, such as leftover veggies, rice, pasta and oatmeal, can be offered to your flock.
Though amphibians might not be your first choice of a pet, frogs are adorable and tend to be more interesting than fish. You can even co-habit fish with frogs, though you’ll need to make sure the species are compatible to live in the same environment. African Clawed Frogs are common pets, grow up to five inches in body length, and are happy to live in a 10-gallon fish tank with a filter, and dine on live, pelleted or frozen foods. Some species can live up to 20 years.
Domesticated rats are intelligent, affectionate pets, and in recent years they’ve been losing their stigma as “pests.” They need at least an hour per day of playtime outside the cage, but you’ll probably keep them out for much longer. They love to interact with their humans, and can even be clicker-trained. For a socialized and healthy rat, buy from a reputable breeder, not the live feed section of a pet store.
Doves and Pigeons
Doves and pigeons are not the same species, but they’re in the same order, Columbiformes, as the now-extinct dodo. They do not bite, but most do not tolerate a lot of handling. However, they do coo almost constantly, which you may find either relaxing or irritating.
Though they’re not the cuddliest pets, hedgehogs are adorable and fun to watch. You can hold a well-socialized hedgehog once they have learned to trust you, but if they get spooked, they will roll into a ball, which increases your chances of getting poked. Hedgehogs can eat dry food, but it’s fun to watch them eat live insects.
The most common type of pet turtle, that you’ll easily find at a pet store, is the red eared slider. There’s also rescues available from Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center. You’ll need a large aquarium to provide adequate swimming space, a filter, plus a dry area for basking equipped with a basking light. Once you have a proper tank set up, you’ll only need to provide dry food and occasional live prey, plus weekly tank cleanings.
While chinchillas are not the easiest pets to care for, they require less maintenance than cats or dogs. They need a large, multi-level cage with chew toys and wheels. Their diet should consist mostly of dry pellets and hay. Fruits and vegetables contain excess sugar and moisture, which is actually not good for chinchillas – their native homeland, the Andes mountains, has a very dry climate which they have evolved to thrive in.
A tarantula is a very hands-off pet that can adapt to being handled, and they don’t necessarily need to free-roam in your home, as they tend to escape and hide in unreachable crevices. If you enjoy watching live feeding, you’ll enjoy watching your tarantula chow down on live crickets once a week.
If you don’t have enough space in your backyard for chickens, quail are a great alternative. They even lay tiny eggs that you can eat. Most quail are less than a pound in weight, and can even be kept indoors. If tamed as hatchlings, they can form strong bonds with their humans.
Sugar gliders are the only marsupials that can be kept as pets. They’re adorable and it’s fun to watch them glide off your furniture. They need a multi-level cage, plus hammocks, toys, pouches and a water bottle. Specially made sugar glider pellet food will provide complete nutrition, while fruits and insects are supplementary treats.
All Pets Need a Go-To Pet Sitter
Though some of these pets are okay with being left alone for up to 24 hours, you’ll need a pet sitter to check in on them and provide fresh food and water if you’re away home for any longer than that. Once your new pet is settled in, schedule a Meet & Greet with Ready Pet Go so you’ll always have a professional pet sitter available to provide specialized care whenever you’re away.