If you want a pet and you’re not sure if it should be a cat or a dog, keep reading to find out the top 10 small animal pets. The list is ranked from least expensive to most expensive based on purchase price, food cost, and veterinary care costs. There are no specific breeds or types of animals that are mentioned in this list. Each is suitable for anyone wanting a pet at any age. Including you!
A rabbit is a small animal that hops, is related to the elephant, and makes a good pet. Rabbits are relatively quiet, and when you go out they don’t mind being left alone for a few hours. They eat hay and pellets along with some vegetables (i.e., carrots) and fruits (i.e., apples). Rabbits can be litter box trained and enjoy being held and petted. They can live indoors or outdoors as long as the house is safe from predators (dogs, coyotes, etc.).
2. Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are not teddy bears, but you can pet them and give them treats, which make up for the fact that they smell — they smell because they have a squished face. They’re covered with fatty white hair that will need to be removed every so often. Once they reach about 4 pounds, they can go outside. Guinea pigs love to eat and need lots of small treats to keep them happy and healthy. Don’t let the name “piggy” confuse you; don’t try to house train these pets, just feed and wash them.
Another hairy animal is the chinchilla. Similar to the guinea pig, this animal has a squished face and thick hair that will fall out every so often (that’s why they need baths). These little balls of cuteness love to play and climb around when they’re awake (they sleep over 16 hours each day). They eat hay, veggies, and pellets with small treats in between. They can live in a cage or enclosure, but make sure there are no places for them to chew on wires or wood because if they do, they might hurt themselves.
An animal that many people have had as a pet is the hamster. They are cute, small, and good pets for kids. As long as they’re not kept in large enclosures and interacted with regularly (from the same room), they can live up to 11 years! They’re a great choice if you want a pet but not one that requires you to worry about changing their litter or bedding. Hamsters eat corn, nuts, seeds, and veggies and usually drink fruit juice mixed in water (they hate water alone). Treat them like they’re small dogs; pet them, talk to them on your lap or bed, stroke them when they’re happy…etc.
5. Sugar Gliders
This is another animal that kids might have as a pet in the past. Sugar gliders are marsupials (predators) and related to the Tasmanian devil and possums. Like guinea pigs, they have long hair but it’s not a fur coat like an otter or fox, so when it gets dirty you need to bathe them. They enjoy going outside (when they’re about 1 year old) with lots of space to run around in and trees for climbing on so they can sleep at night with their tails wrapped around branches. They enjoy small treats like fruit and veggie slices.
Another small animal that has been kept as a pet for a long time is the mouse or hamster. They usually live to be up to 2 years old, which is pretty good for a mouse! They like to eat smaller amounts of food throughout the day (different from the guinea pig) and they don’t have a strong smell like other rodents do. This means you can keep them in your bedroom. Energetic and fun animals, they will play inside and outside and make good pets for kids.
Tortoises are good pets because they are not loud and don’t bite (they prefer to eat grass). They like to eat lettuce, strawberries, apples, mangoes, grapes, melon, celery…any fruit or veggie you feed them. They require no special care other than regular visits to the vet. You can keep them in cages or enclosures where they have a nice warm place to sleep at night with lots of greens growing around them. When they are outside in the summer, don’t leave them alone for long periods of time.
Cats are another popular pet that has been kept by a lot of people for years. They’re not noisy, they don’t bite, but they’re very picky about what they eat. For example, they love canned tuna fish and if you were to buy tuna straight from the grocery store, it would be too salty for them. You can find special ‘cat food’ in any pet store at a reasonable price. When buying toys for your cat, make sure it doesn’t have small pieces or strings because the cat will swallow it and choke on their own marzipan-like piece of plastic!
Of course, the number one pet that many kids got as a little pet in the past was a lizard. They are small and cute, but they are also fairly easy to take care of. They do require some time to adjust to their new home, so make sure to handle them frequently while they get used to you. They eat dry food and sometimes veggies. You can keep them in cages or under your bed if you don’t want them underfoot. Be careful not to let them bite because the saliva will contain bacteria and if your children get bitten by them, you could end up with a skin condition like MRSA (mono-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus).
10. Tropical Fish
Jumping on the whale trend, if you don’t have the time and space to take care of an actual whale, maybe a tropical fish is the next best thing. These are very simple pets to care for, and they can live in a small tank or in a large one (it depends on your budget). You can buy frozen food for them at pet stores and they will eat it as soon as it is thawed. There are many choices of fish: Piranhas, stingrays, sea horses, etc. Of course, if you want them to survive, only buy species that are known to be hardy.