6 of the cheapest pets to own

Having an animal friend doesn't have to mean huge food and vet bills. These companions can bring joy with a small price tag.

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Jul 29, 2013 9:18PM
This article says that guinea pigs are easy to take care of and quite cheap but that is simply not the case.  Guinea pigs require a specific diet with a variety of vegetables, quality timothy pellets, and unlimited hay.  They need to be changed twice a week with spot cleans every single day.  They also require a large amount of cage space which many people don't realize.  The cages at pet stores are not big enough to house even one guinea pig.  Guinea pigs require at least 7.5 square feet per pig.  

Also, it's imperative that you do not buy ONE guinea pig -- instead, you need to buy TWO as they are herd animals and need a companion in order to not become lonely.  Guinea pigs need laptime for about ten minutes every day and need to be checked regularly by the owner for differences in weight, skin texture, and hair loss.  

I do respect that this article said that guinea pigs are not for young children, because they are most definitely NOT.  They are for adults or for pre-teens and teenagers with adult supervision.  They require yearly vet visits and if you think you won't have to bring your guinea pig to the vet often, you're wrong.  This article says that vet costs average at $45 but they can be much more than that because of common illnesses such as mites, calcium deposits, urinary tract infections, upper respiratory infections, and bumblefoot are just some to name.  

If anyone reading this article does decide that they want to get a guinea pig, it is highly suggested that you adopt one instead of buying one from a pets tore.  Try searching up guinea pig rescues in your area -- they are more common than you might think.  Research is a priority if you adopt one of they cute cavies!  But, they truly are worth the care they require!  They are full of personality and spunk!  You won't regret taking one in! :)
Jul 29, 2013 6:39PM
Because we lived in an apartment, bought my young son tropical fish.
Found most dead one morning on the living room rug. Son decided he wanted to take them for a walk. True story.

Jul 30, 2013 1:32PM
We all pay for the 535 pets in D.C. They don't do much, their dumber then rocks and are extremely expensive
Jul 29, 2013 8:39PM
Speaking as someone who's owned a number of different rodent species, guinea pigs are wonderful pets.  They're beyond cute and very affectionate, but that said they're definitely not low-maintenance animals.  They require cleaning every couple of days and a very specific diet (e.g. timothy hay, vitamin C supplements) along with regular monitoring of urinary output to avoid forming kidney or bladder stones. The vet told us that once a stone forms and gets stuck it's incredibly painful with a mortality rate of about 80%.

You might consider gerbils as an alternative. They're also very curious and intelligent, and have more-flexible dietary requirements that may run only a few dollars a week at most. They're "colonial" animals so it's important to have at least two of them; also provide lots of playthings because they love to climb and explore.

Jul 30, 2013 4:25AM
Those aren't that cheap, I think we can do better (or at least cheaper).

1. an ant: yep, a single ant.  I would recommend a carpenter ant (the big black ones).  You can find them for free and replace as needed.

2. A spider:  you can even catch it's dinner by leaving a piece of fruit out or any other bugs.   Plus side, most are free.....just fight the instinct to step on or swat them.

3.   A mouse:  You can even buy them at the pet stores, ironically near the snakes.

4. A snake:  Look for your scaly pet outdoors during spring, in order to find a baby one.

5. A fly:  just trap one in the fridge and freezer, wait 30 mins, and then tie a string on your new 24 hour pet.

6. A cricket:  makes a great hide and go seek pet.

7.  Too old for a night light, but still scared of the dark?  How bout a lightning bug.

8.  A monkey:  it will pay for itself, if you can teach it to; pick pocket, steal, dance, or deliver drugs.

Jul 29, 2013 9:01PM
Geckos are not cheap pets.   Geckos shed their skin.  Without proper diet, proper lights, and the correct substrate  geckos cannot properly shred their skin and are prone to infection. Our gecko was very friendly and interactive.  They are very sweet pets, but not cheap at all.
Jul 29, 2013 7:32PM
Guinea pigs costs $30 per month the feed seems a little expensive to me.  I know my dog doesn't eat nearly this much food. 
Jul 30, 2013 9:18AM
Jul 30, 2013 12:09AM

I can't figure out why they listed guinea pigs instead of hamsters.  Hamsters eat less, need less space, have more flexible diets, and don't need the cage cleaned as often.  Depending on the breed, most are solitary when they grow up and don't need or want a companion.  (See the phrase 'ball of death' for what happens when you put tow adult Syrian hamsters together.)


A bag of "gourmet" hamster chow costs us about $9 and lasts several months.  Most of the snacks are things we have around the house anyway: salad mix, berries, nuts, etc.


For the person who suggested gerbils - gerbils are illegal in several areas, including California, where I live.  They can't be sold in pet stores or given away by rescue organizations or the Humane Society.

Jul 29, 2013 8:55PM
Betas can be easily bred too.  You show the female daily to a male in a nearby tank and the male starts to make a bubble nest.  The water temperature has to be just right, I believe it's between 68 and 72 degrees.  You put the female into the tank, the male squeezes the eggs out of them and you take the female out so the male doesn't kill her to keep her from eating the eggs.  The male then fertilizes the eggs and sits under the bubble nest picking up the baby's in his mouth and putting them back in the bubble nest.  It's pretty cool.  My wife bred some about 30 years ago.
Jul 30, 2013 1:36PM
Geckos and hermit crabs certainly aren't easy to take care of. Please do your homework before bringing home a new pet.
Jul 30, 2013 10:04AM
Another cheap pet most people don't think about is a rabbit.  A bag of rabbit food is cheap and will last a single rabbit a year (I have 3 and go through 2 bags a year, roughly $25).  They can also be fed fruit and veggie scraps and stuff out of the garden.  Rabbits don't need bathed, just clip their toe nails.  We did take ours to the vet to be neutered/spayed but you don't have to do this.  Rabbits are also quiet animals as they don't bark or meow.  They can be left for a couple of days as long as you leave plenty of food, water and a way for them to keep cool (if it's hot out).  We leave ours for the weekend when we go places (Friday-Sunday) and they do just fine.

The best part about having a rabbit is that they are so cute and love to cuddle!  That and watching them hop, jump and run around the house having fun!  :)
Jul 30, 2013 12:11PM
Goldfish living 20 years?  Not in my experience.  When I was a kid, I kept an extensive log of our goldfish and the longest lived was 3.5 years.  An average lifespan was more like 1 year.

We had a standard 10 gallon aquarium, water filtration system.

Tropical fish are tougher to keep alive.  I set up an aquarium with zebra danios and then a much larger tropical fish of a name I forget.  I was worried the large fish would star eating the tiny zebra danios, but that might be just part of the fun of watching nature at work.

Imagine my shock when I got home one day.  The big fish wasn't in the tank, so did he jump out?  After looking closely, I found the head floating at the top,  The zebra danios had him for lunch.  Goes to show you what can happen.

Aug 18, 2013 10:26AM

Whoever wrote this article did not do their research! Guinea pigs either need a lot of attention or a companion. So if you get only one then expect to spend time with it or get two (same gender of course). The author of this article should go get one so they can experience facts before recommending one.


Ms. Kozash is on the money with the details in her remarks.


Always research before getting ANY pet. My wife was offered a baby box turtle and was planning on accepting the offer BUT I researched and they can live up to about 90 years old! People make the mistake of not researching a pet and get one just because they are cute, the kid wants it, etc. and just go get it. Then they discover the pet is more trouble than the want to deal with and end up at the SPCA or dumped off on the side of the road. Sad but idiots shouldn't own pets if they do not do the proper research and make the commitment.


Different dog breeds are prone to specific health issues.


Pets have feelings too!

Jul 30, 2013 10:02AM
Have 2 great guinea pigs. The have separate cages but play well together in a corrale. They need to be handled carefully and you do need to pay attention to their squeaks and clean/spot clean their cages regularly. They are well worth it:)
Aug 7, 2013 7:27PM

How about a cat? you can get them for free on Craig's List and food and litter has GOT to be cheaper than all those expensive gagets for lizards and the like.


Aug 18, 2013 5:05AM
Betta fish can get along with a school of 7-11 female betta fish and other tropical fish that they would live around with in the wild. They also require a medium sized tank so they can exercise and play. They like to hide so you need to buy foliage that is soft to their fins and some hiding castle. When they are happy the males will blow spit bubble nests <3 They are prone to fin rot usually when you get them from a store so you'll need to buy fin and scale conditioner to drop in the water. They also need to eat dried bloodworms and nutrient pellets and they live about 2 years. My first betta named Todd lived about 2 years and died because his swim bladder broke and he couldn't swim around much :< But he was a very happy guy.
Aug 18, 2013 11:36AM

Largely irrelevant to the topic, but writer missed the point of the phrase "cash cow", which means the exact opposite: a single dairy cow whose milk output nets over twice the cost of her upkeep, and therefore is kept for no other reason.

In other words, a money-maker!

Get a clue, or don't get clever.

Aug 18, 2013 1:20PM

If you can't afford a pet, then don't get any.

We have 10 parrots and 4 pups and can afford them all.

IMHO - You all just don't want to put up with the work and small amount of money to have ANY pets.

Aug 18, 2013 3:42PM
When my kids were little, we had all kinds of accidental pets. They would bring home snakes, frogs, turtles, salamanders, etc. They got that from their dad. He brought home a tarantula one time. Bugs bug me. I wasn't too happy about that.
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