Most mums have gone through the ‘can we get a dog?‘ stage. And it is tempting. Dogs are great company but they are also hard work. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a pet of some kind. There are lots of low maintenance pets that bring plenty of joy.
If you’d like to find a pet which will fit perfectly into your tribe, keep reading for everything you need to know.
9 Low maintenance pets for your kids to love
1. Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are one of the easiest animals to care for. These cute little critters are very social and enjoy companionship. This means you need to get two guinea pigs so the other one doesn’t get lonely. They are also very tame and not bitey, perfect for single mums with small children.
Average lifespan: Up to 8 years with proper care
Average monthly cost: $40 to $60
Where they live: Escape-proof cage or enclosure with room for exercise and bedding made of paper/hardwood shavings
What they eat: Guinea pig food, timothy hay, some fruits and veggies
Required maintenance: Daily attention and interaction, regular grooming, thorough cleaning of the cage every week and regular vet checkups
Turtles can be the perfect low-maintenance pet for your family. They are quiet, adorable, affectionate and fun for kids to watch and feed. Some breeds live much longer than other house pets. The type of turtle you get will determine how much you’ll be spending on care and maintenance, so choose wisely. In Australia, the easiest to care for and most common pet is the long-necked turtle. Other types may need a licence.
Average lifespan: Up to 50 years
Average monthly cost: $40 to $120 depending on the breed
Where they live: Indoor tank with water, filter, a sunning area and a special reptile lamp, or an outdoor enclosure near a pond
What they eat: Special turtle food, meat, plants, raw fish, worms, shrimp, mosquito larvae and other water insects
Required maintenance: Tank cleaning once a week or every two weeks
Mice are curious little creatures that are popular with the kiddos. Contrary to popular belief, mice are gentle and very clean animals when properly cared for. Like guinea pigs, they are social animals and should not be kept alone. They also need a good-sized space to roam around. Most of the time mice rest and groom themselves, but they enjoy company with regular handling.
Average lifespan: 1 to 2 years
Average monthly cost: $12 to $20
Where they live: Well-ventilated cage with bedding, hidey hole and exercise wheel
What they eat: Hamster food, small pieces of dog biscuit, dry cat food, carrot, apple
Required maintenance: Regular cage cleaning, fresh water and interaction
Which pets are easy to take care of?
4. Blue-Tongued Lizard
Blue-tongued lizards are a popular reptile pet that thrive in captivity if given proper care. Considered a starter lizard, they are great pets especially if you have a garden … they eat snails, caterpillars and insects that munch on plants. The most important requirement is the right temperature range (from 24˚C to 35˚C) within the enclosure. Besides climate control, they also need a special ultraviolet lamp for growth and development. The initial setup cost can run up to $700, but monthly maintenance is very affordable.
Average lifespan: 15 to 20 years
Average monthly cost: $37 to $150
Where they live: Enclosure with basking log/rock and temperature control
What they eat: Food pellets, live food, fruits, vegetables
Required maintenance: Thorough cleaning of the enclosure at least once a week
If you are wondering which pet is easy to take care of, then budgies or parakeets are not only low-maintenance, they are also super friendly, affectionate and can be trained to do tricks! You can even teach them to talk, or at least imitate sounds. Budgies are small and don’t take up as much space as larger birds, and they can thrive happily even if you live in a small apartment. They also consume less food. Budgies are perfect pet birds for beginners and families with children.
Average lifespan: 5 to 10 years
Average monthly cost: $25 to $50
Where they live: Cage with enough room to spread their wings without touching the sides
What they eat: Food pellets formulated for small parrots plus vegetables, fruits, rice and sprouted seeds for variety
Required maintenance: Complete vet examination every 6-12 months, wing or nail trimming as needed
Another Australian native bird that is easy to care for, the cockatiel is a small affectionate bird that‘s great for families with kids. When raised in a loving environment with plenty of attention and interaction, they grow up to be very friendly, sociable and intelligent pets. Some birds can mimic telephone and doorbell sounds. Since they’re tiny, you don’t need to break the bank to buy a large cage or feed them high quality food.
Average lifespan: 15 years or more
Average monthly cost: $25 to $50
Where they live: Cage with perches and enough room for birds to spread their wings
What they eat: Food pellets, commercial birdseed, dark leafy greens, apples, bananas and treats
Required maintenance: Regular cage cleaning and daily interaction/play
Which pet is easy to take care of? (cont.)
7. Betta Fish
Betta fish or Siamese fighting fish are one of the most popular pet fish in the world. They naturally live in small spaces in the wild and don’t require lots of space in captivity either. They’re very hardy and you can get away with less than pristine tank conditions, although regular cleanings are still recommended. Buying a common betta fish and setting up the tank will set you back from $10 to $150 (larger tanks are more expensive), and monthly upkeep is very affordable.
Average lifespan: 3 to 5 years
Average monthly cost: $25 to $50
Where they live: Fish bowl (at least one quart) or aquarium tank (bigger is better) with filter, heater, lamp, toys, gravel and plants
What they eat: Live fish food (brine shrimp, daphnia, mosquito larvae), dry food pellets
Required maintenance: Regular tank cleaning and annual medication
A goldfish is as low maintenance as it gets when it comes to pets. All you need is good quality food and a clean tank to keep them happy. As your goldfish grows (and they can grow up to 10 inches), you’ll need to move it to larger aquarium to make sure they have enough room. Experts recommend one to three gallons of water for every inch of fish. Keeping goldfish in tiny bowls allows waste and bacteria to accumulate rapidly and can harm the fish.
Average lifespan: 5 to 10 years with proper care
Average monthly cost: $6 to $25
Where they live: Fish tank or aquarium with filter and enough room to support growth
What they eat: Special goldfish flakes supplemented with live/frozen brine shrimp, daphnia and vegetable mix
Required maintenance: Regular feeding and tank cleaning (at least two to three times a month)
Most cats are naturally independent and don’t require as much maintenance as a dog, and they make great pets for inexperienced owners. Give your kitty food, a warm bed, litter box and enough attention and they’ll be happy. If this is your first pet, consider getting an easy-going cat breed like Persian, British Shorthair, Ocicat or Russian Blue. Note: Under a new law that aims to reduce the number of strays in some states, your cat could be forced to stay indoors 24/7.
Average lifespan: 13 to 17 years
Average monthly cost: $60 to $125
Where they live: Indoors with a pet bed and litter box
What they eat: Good quality dry or wet cat food
Required maintenance: Spaying or neutering, annual veterinary examination and shots