Why is the go-to pet ownership (or first date) question always are you a dog or cat person? What about those that fall in love with an eight-legged friend, or a hamster?
It is easy to think that dogs or cats are too much work; they need all that attention and love, just get a fish. You need to know that all pets require care and attention, so make sure that the pet you do buy fits into your lifestyle and that you have the time to give your pet the love and attention it needs.
Birds, like the Cockatoo or the Macaw, and many more, are very popular pets in South Africa. When it comes to owning a bird the most important consideration is ensuring that you have the proper cage for the type of bird you own. You can’t put a big bird like a Cockatoo in a small cage, also take care that your bird is not able to get out of the cage. Parrots and Cockatoos need fresh fruit like apples everyday but they eat seeds as well. The African grey is also a popular option, however, this bird may outlive you so you need to have a plan for that eventuality. You need to take your bird out of the cage and let it have some human contact but just make sure that all the doors and windows are closed before you do. Human interaction will also result in, arguably the coolest thing about owning certain species of birds; your bird will learn to talk!
These cute small animals are a popular choice for parents as first pets for their children. The one negative is that they have a very short life span of only one to three years; you need to be prepared to deal with all the questions from your little one when that time comes.
They are active at night so this might also be a problem if you are trying to get the kids to go to bed and they are distracted by their pets; an easy solution is to move the cage out of the bedroom. Hamsters are not known for being cuddlers, but they can be handled for a few minutes; a good time is when the cage is being cleaned, and then the fun of watching your hamster play in the (clean) cage ensues.
They may not be the cutest, but will make an excellent pet for a family because they are gentle and kind. Before you decide that this is the pet for you, however, you need to know that they eat live food like crickets and worms but also fresh vegetables and that their terrarium will need to be cleaned regularly.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that your bearded dragon is just going to happily live without any touch or interaction with family. They love their human family, and enjoy to be on grass and in the sunlight so you will have to make time every day for a little outside time.
If you, or someone in your family, suffer from allergies or asthma, fish might be the best option for you if you do decide to get a pet. Fish are easy to take care of, and fun to pick. Ask the shop assistant for species that live together well and let everyone pick the fish they need. The budget and set-up requirements depend on whether you want fresh water fish or saltwater fish, and care requirements are also somewhat different, so do some research beforehand to know what you are in for.
You might think: “Oh no, I don’t want a rat in my house.” But once you get over the first shock you will realise they are actually very good pets for children and will entertain them for hours. One thing you need to know is that they are most active at night so I would suggest that you don’t put the cage in your child’s room that will make it difficult for them to sleep. The average lifespan of a rat is 2-3 years so be prepared to answers questions and having to help your child mourn their beloved pet. They are very intelligent and are easy to tame, and even teach tricks, so your children should be able to handle them as much as they like.
Tarantulas are a popular choice as a pet because they don’t take up too much space and they don’t need attention every day. They can be handled but you will have to be careful not to hurt the spider. They eat live food crickets. If you want to buy a tarantula for your child it is suggested that you wait until about age seven so that the child can understand the importance of carefully handling the spider to avoid injuring it.
Ultimately, no pet should be acquired without careful consideration of all the demands it will put on your family. No pet is without needs and when you decide to become a responsible pet owner it is your moral responsibility to adequately meet these needs.