Other Pets

We know that the predominant portion of the population is interested in cats and dogs, but we want to provide pet owners who have other types of pets (or are thinking about owning different ones) to have a place to go to find information about snakes, birds, rodents, fish and more. Explore the information below to get a feel for what kind of pet would fit your lifestyle. If you already have one of these “other” pets, we hope you find the information helpful and interesting.

pet fishFish

There aren’t many pet spectacles more popular than a fully-stocked and diverse fish tank. Fish are relatively easy to care for and the number of species are seemingly endless. Having all you need to keep a spectacular fish tank can be expensive, but smaller fish tanks with a single fish is very inexpensive. Are fish right for you? Animal.discovery.com lists these as the top ten most popular fish as pets:

1. Angelfish- They’re called angels for good reason. These saltwater beauties are among the most colorful and popular aquarium fish. The Angelfish family is separated into two categories: Dwarf and Marine Large. Adult Dwarf Angelfish reach 6 inches in the wild and large Angelfish can grow up to 20 inches. While Angels are usually found in groups, they can get aggressive toward one another. So, if you plan on having more than one it’s best to introduce them together. Angelfish can also be pricey. A Clarion, which is one of the rarest types, can cost upwards of $3,000. If you have your heart set on an Angel but aren’t looking to spend that kind of cash, here are a few more affordable options. The cost of a Golden Dwarf Angelfish begins around $200. These fish love hiding places and their beauty and rarity will surely set your tank apart from other aquarists. If you’re not willing to spend $200, try the Coral Beauty Angel, which is one of the most popular and affordable angels and is priced around $30. Coral Beauties acclimate to well-established tanks better than most, but they are prone to nipping at corals. The Scribbled Large Angelfish is a favorite with many aquarists, but the $600 price tag can be a rough investment in this economy. In addition, this angel requires a 100 gallon tank. Instead, try the Blue Spotted Large Angelfish priced around $30 and only requiring a 55 gallon tank.

2. Tangs You’re not going to have buyer’s remorse if you get your hands on a Tang or Surgeonfish. There are 80 different Tang species and these lively fish can be found throughout the world enjoying a coral or rocky reef. The best part is that Tangs adapt well to saltwater aquariums and can grow up to 6 inches. Tangs, because of their small scales, are susceptible to Marine Ich and Lateral Line Erosion; however, with a good diet and caring owners, these diseases pose little threat. The Purple Tang has a price tag of $130 to $200, but is worth every penny. This Tang is one of the most prized species of all saltwater fish. The Purple Tangs, like all Tangs, are high in maintenance and expense. If you’re looking to house a Purple Tang, you will need at least a 100 gallon tank. However, the Blue Tang is less than half the price of a Purple Tang at between $30 and $60 and requires a 75 gallon tank. These tangs may come at a discount, but they never disappoint.

3. Arowana- Arowana are more than just boney freshwater fish. They are gliding mosaics dating back to the Early Cretaceous Period. There are only 10 species of Arowanas and their rarity means big bucks if you’re looking to buy one. These carnivores are expert hunters and are often called water monkeys because they are able to jump several feet out of the water. Arowanas are loners, but that’s okay. After buying one, you may not have enough money to buy another fish! The Platinum Arowana, one of the rarest forms of the Silver Arowana, is a genetic anomaly that could cost you more than $80,000. Yes, that number is correct. Aro Dynasty, a Singaporean company, was offered $80,000 for their Platinum Arowana, but they turned down the bid for the fish because of its purported good luck. Less rare Arowanas, however, are rarely that expensive. You can purchase a Blue Arowana for $250 or a small Silver Arowana for around $40, a great deal for such a graceful specimen.

4. Butterflyfish- Butterflyfish may be easy on the eyes, but these elegant saltwater fish are only for the experts. They are known for their beautiful colors — colors that would make even the Discus, a bright freshwater fish, a little jealous. These peaceful fish grow up to 6 inches in an aquarium and up to 12 inches in the wild. Butterflyfish are usually found in pairs and are both high in demand and price. A pair of Tinkerii Butterflyfish will run you $400 to $600. These treasured Butterflies stand out from the rest with their white, black and yellow scales. They require a 50-gallon fish-only tank because they are prone to eating corals. A more affordable option is the Auriga Butterflyfish, a popular and readily available Butterflyfish found in the Red Sea. These fish start around $50 for a pair and are a hardy species. They are a bit shy and love to hide, but are enjoyable fish nonetheless!

5. Puffers- If you think Puffer fish just swim around all day looking pretty, you’re wrong. Puffers are known for their bubbly personalities and, of course, their ability to inflate their bodies two to three times their normal size. While Puffers can come in a variety of colors, they also can have spines, spikes or burrs on their bodies. These fish will acclimate well to your saltwater tanks if provided with a meaty meal, swimming room and hiding places. The Guinea Fowl Puffer is known for its colorful phases of life. During its black phase, the Puffer is black with white dots and during its golden phase, it will have a gold or burgundy anterior with white dots. These puffers are priced around $460. The Black Spotted Puffer, also known as the Dog Face Puffer, would be a cost-saving alternative. They run around $25 each and also change colors throughout its lifetime. These Puffers have similar needs and require fish-only tanks over 100 gallons as well as meaty diets. Using a container while transferring Puffers is recommended — they are not keen on nets.

6. Clownfish- While Clownfish will forever be synonymous with Nemo from Finding Nemo, these spirited fish are a great addition to any saltwater aquarium and are perfect for a novice aquarist. Clownfish, unlike many other marine fish, can be bred inside aquariums with relative ease and can live safely with aggressive fish given enough hiding places. At the top of the budget, the Black and White Percula Clownfish runs about $40. Clownfish are usually found in groups or pairs and local fish stores are willing to lower the price if you buy in bulk. The Ocellaris Clownfish, also known as the False Percula Clownfish, looks like the Black and White Clown but is a third of the price!

7. Wrasse- With more than 500 species dominating the coral reef, it is easy to see why the Wrasse is a staple fish to have in any saltwater aquarium. They are known as cleaner fish, but also community fish. Most reef fish recognize the Wrasse and won’t eat them. These colorful coral fish are usually in groups and undergo drastic color changes throughout their lifetimes. These fish adapt well to aquarium life and require expert care, a well-sealed lid and good water conditions. Wrasses are also closely related to the Parrot fish, which are known for their vivid colors and powerful teeth. The Mystery Wrasse or Five Bar Wrasse is known for its colorful smile. The shades of yellow, blue and purple circling the Wrasse’s body outline a colorful smile on its face; though, the Wrasse is sure to smile at any good aquarist. This rarely-collected Wrasse has a price tag of $100 to $260. The Six Lined Wrasse is a great alternative if you’re on a budget and also a novice aquarist. The Six Lined Wrasse is relatively easy to take care of and costs $15 to $20. Wrasses require a 30-gallon tank and can grow 3 to 6 inches in captivity.

8. Triggerfish- One click of the fin and these Triggerfish can hide in the snuggest crevice. Triggers are colorful fish that love a tank with ample hiding places. Aquarists usually purchase Triggers when they are younger because they become more docile as they grow compared to those matured in the wild. These fish require tanks larger than 50 gallons and meaty foods supplemented with algae and seaweed. The Bluelined Triggerfish has waves of blue and yellow lines on its anterior that accent its green eyes. The Bluelined Trigger will run you around $100. These fish are said to “talk,” but the sounds coming from the Triggers are grunts. On the affordable end, Bluechin Triggerfish are known for their landscaping skills because they rearrange rocks and other materials in their tank. Male Bluechins can be discerned from female because they actually have the blue chins! This lively Trigger will run you between $20 and $30.

9. Discus Fish- Peaceful and admired by most freshwater aquarist, the Discus fish will upgrade any experienced aquarist’s tank. These fish flourish in aquariums, but are not fans of flake food. They love to munch on bloodworms, brine shrimp and yes, beef heart. Freshwater fish are known to be on the more affordable side, but these freshwater beauties still cost a pretty penny. The Royal Blue Discus is not a novice-level fish — it requires high quality water conditions that are exactly like its shady habitat in South America. Though these Discuses are one of the most popular fish to have, they can cost upwards of $230. A more affordable option is the Red Turquoise Discus costing around $30. This fish has already surpassed the Angelfish in popularity and can come in a vast assortment of colors.

10. Goldfish- Ah, yes. The Goldfish. Goldfish were the first fish to be domesticated and are the most common freshwater aquarium fish. We may win them at the carnivals or find them in centerpieces, but they are and will always be special. Brett Raymer once built a $25,000 fish tank for one man’s 10-year-old goldfish. While the goldfish is a common occurrence in fish tanks, there are several different kinds and they all have something unique about them. The Red Ryukin Goldfish can cost between $7 and $70 depending on its size. They are known for the distinctive hump behind their heads. The Red Cap Oranda is one interesting Goldfish and a great alternative to the Red Ryukin. These goldfish are born without any head growth and it can take up to two years for their head to be fully developed. They also have wart-looking growths above their heads that look like an oversized brain. Sometimes, the Oranda’s eyes are embedded inside the growths, which is pretty cool. These fish cost between $7 and $50 depending on their size.

Thanks to the aforementioned site for the wonderful, expert information about fish as pets. Another that comes to mind for us in the Beta fish. We’ve known many pet owners who have a small tank or bowl with a single Beta, but we’ve also heard they are sometimes hard to keep alive…Do your homework before snatching up a Beta. To see photos of all the above fish, click here.

pet lizardLizards-

Bestlizards.com has a ton of great information about lizards that we’ve borrowed. This is great stuff for you if you are thinking about becoming a potential lizard lover. The site also makes a list of lizards to avoid. The following are great lizards to think about owning:

1. The leopard gecko

The leopard gecko, Eublepharis macularius, is probably the most popular pet reptile in captivity today. These small lizards are available in a variety of pleasing colors and patterns. Their care requirements are very simple and they are generally docile and easily tamed.

Because they are nocturnal, they have no special lighting requirements which are common for other lizards. Babies must be fed daily but adults can be fed every other day and left alone for a few days at a time without issue. These hardy, long-lived little lizards make an ideal first reptilian pet.

Lifespan: 15-20+ years

Size: 7-10 inches

Minimum Cage size as adults: 20 gallon tank or equivalent

Special Care Requirements: Controlled heating

Pros: Inexpensive, easy to find, no special lighting requirements, non-threatening look, small and space-efficient

Cons: Insectivorous, need a constant supply of crickets, waxworms, and mealworms in the home.

2. The Red Ackie

Varanus acanthuras, or the “ackie” as it is more commonly called, is also known as the ridge-tailed lizard and spiny-tailed lizard. This small monitor is a true dwarf and is an ideal captive with very straightforward care requirements. If you are looking for a pet monitor this lizard is for you!

Beautifully colored and with the look of little dragons, these active lizards are fun to watch and care for. Ackies can be held on a daily basis and usually tame very well. Ackies can be fed every other day and will accept a variety of foods including crickets and pinky mice

Lifespan: 10+ years

Size: 16-26 inches

Minimum Cage size as adults: 55 gallon tank or equivalent

Special Care Requirements: Controlled heating, UVB lighting

Pros: Relatively small, hardy, docile, unique look

Cons: More expensive than other ‘beginner’ lizards, can be difficult to find.

3. The bearded dragon

Bearded dragons, or “beardies” as they are affectionately known, are a great first pet lizard. Their docile demeanor, relatively small size, and straightforward care requirements have earned them a high rank on our best pet list.

Bearded dragons are active during the day and make great display animals. Their trusting, laid back nature allows for easy handling and a great introduction to reptiles even for those who are hesitant or afraid of snakes and lizards.

Lifespan: 8-10 years

Size: 14-24 inches

Minimum Cage size as adults: 40 gallon tank or equivalent

Special Care Requirements: Daily access to special UVB lighting, controlled heating, babies are particularly delicate though adults are very hardy.

Pros: Inexpensive, easy to find, limited care requirements, endearing looks good for converting non-reptile lovers.

Cons: Omnivorous, requiring both insects and vegetation in their diet and fresh greens every day.

4. The crested gecko

Bearded dragons, or “beardies” as they are affectionately known, are a great first pet lizard. Their docile demeanor, relatively small size, and straightforward care requirements have earned them a high rank on our best pet list.

Bearded dragons are active during the day and make great display animals. Their trusting, laid back nature allows for easy handling and a great introduction to reptiles even for those who are hesitant or afraid of snakes and lizards.

Lifespan: 8-10 years

Size: 14-24 inches

Minimum Cage size as adults: 40 gallon tank or equivalent

Special Care Requirements: Daily access to special UVB lighting, controlled heating, babies are particularly delicate though adults are very hardy.

Pros: Inexpensive, easy to find, limited care requirements, endearing looks good for converting non-reptile lovers.

Cons: Omnivorous, requiring both insects and vegetation in their diet and fresh greens every day.

5. The Argentine black and white tegu

The Argentine black and white tegu, Tupinambis merianae, is the largest lizard on our best pet list. It is important to note that adult tegus require more space than the average owner is willing to provide, but if that isn’t an issue for you then a tegu might be a great choice as a pet lizard.

Tegus are one of the smartest reptiles, able to learn simple tricks and to respond to the sound of their names. Typically calm, tegus properly socialized from a young age can learn to walk on a harness and be handled with great frequency.

It should be noted that there are multiple tegu species; Columbian tegus are NOT recommended as a good pet lizard. These black and white cousins are often aggressive and difficult to care for.

Lifespan: 15+ years

Size: 3-4.5 feet

Minimum Cage size as adults: 4-6 foot x 2 foot wide cage or larger (larger necessary for adult males.)

Special Care Requirements: UVB lighting and controlled heat, substrate to burrow in.

Pros:Intelligent, captivating, hardy

Cons: Large size and caging requirements.

The site offers up these lizards to avoid for various reasons (some may be violent, hard to find, hard to handle or feed, etc.)

  • Iguana
  • Savannah monitors
  • Green Anole
  • Chameleon
  • Other monitors (these can be VERY expensive to house and care for)

Thanks again to the above Web site for the great information. To see pictures of all the lizards, click here.

Snakespet snake

Snakes are a rare but fascinating breed of pet. Though scary to many folks, snakes can be domesticated, even trained to be handled by just about anyone. According to environmentalgraffiti.com, these are the top five most popular pet snakes:

1. Corn Snake

By far the most popular snake in the American exotic pet industry, the corn snake is actually a commonly seen snake in the eastern states, from New Jersey to the Florida Keys. So what makes this species so popular? It is a docile and hardy animal that is easily cared for, yes, but its true appeal lies in its genetic variety. Many corns that carry genetic mutations such as albinoism and hypomelanism exhibit some of the most spectacular colors seen in any snake on earth. The Bloodred morph, for instance, lives up to its name with scales that rival ruby gems in color and intensity. Charcoal corn snakes, on the other hand, lack the red pigments all together and are gorgeous black and ashy colored snakes with pitch black eyes. The Tessera morph, a newly discovered mutation, alters the snakes’s pattern rather than its colors, changing its normally banded saddles to one single stripe down its back. All these genetic mutations may be combined with one another to create new and entirely different colors and patterns, making it the most popular snake for hobbyists and breeders alike.

2. Ball Python

Ball Pythons are popular for similar reasons, with some of the rarer and more strikingly colored and patterned morphs selling for $50,000 or even more. This West African species is named for its defense strategy, in which it curls itself into a tight ball with its head protected by its muscular body. When feeding, it uses those massive muscles to constrict its prey, squeezing so hard that the blood flow ceases completely, and the animal dies in less than a minute. Despite its brutal power, the ball python is a very docile animal in captivity, and with a length of no more than 5 feet, makes a great pet for the first time snake owner.

3. California King Snake

These impressive predators regularly devour rattlesnakes in the wild. With a strong, muscular body reaching 5 feet, and a fearless disposition, king snakes live up to their name and reputation as the most formidable serpent in the United States. Ironically, they also happen to be among the most popular snakes in captivity. If handled regularly, a king can become as sweet as a lamb. If you’re thinking about getting your little brother a cali king for Christmas, don’t worry, you wont have to buy rattlesnakes as feeders. A mouse a week will do.

4. Milk Snake

The milk snake is closely related to the king snake, and hybrids between the two are common in the pet trade. A pure milk snake, however, is superior in beauty to any fancy hybrid out there. Known for its tricolor bands, the red, black and white coat is a form of Batesian mimicry, in which a defenseless animal mimics another, more dangerous one, in this case the highly venomous coral snake. Milk snakes lack venom and are completely harmless to humans. However, to the untrained eye, a milk snake and a coral snake appear identical. If you ever encounter a tricolor snake in the wild, remember the saying, “Red on black, friend of Jack. Red on yellow, kill a fellow.”

5. Boa Constrictor

Known to take down large prey such as ocelots, this South and Central American native is a highly effective predator. Like the ball python, the boa constrictor squeezes the life out of its prey before consuming it, and with razor sharp teeth and powerful jaw muscles, it slides its dinner down the hatch in no time. At lengths of up to 10 feet, the boa constrictor is not a snake for the beginner hobbyist, or for those with limited space. A large enclosure is required, and many hobbyists build there own, custom made display cages for their boas to climb around in. If you’re looking for a relatively challenging reptile to add to your collection, and are prepared to make its enclosure the centerpiece of your living room, then the boa constrictor may be right for you. Imagine what mom and dad will say when you invite them over for Sunday dinner and show them your 6 foot tall jungle terrarium next to the dinner table!

Birds

pet bird

According to the Humane Society of the United States: “There are more than 10,000 species of birds on the planet, but only a few of them can happily live as our companions. Certain species, such as cockatiels, budgerigars, finches, doves, and lovebirds, can thrive as pets with proper care. But most other birds, macaws, cockatoos, and so many more, are best left in the wild. They’re too social, intelligent, and complex to have all of their needs met in captivity.”

That said, let’s take a quick look at the ones they name as ones who are suitable for ownership.

Cockatiels– these pretty birds live anywhere from 15-20 years on average, but some can live up to 32 years old. Cockatiels are members of the Cockatoo family and are native to Australia. They are a little social- just enough to have them as pets and gain happiness. They are the smallest of the Cockatoo family and are relatively easy to care for. A typical bird cage will do and your run-of-the mill bird food will suffice.

Budgerigars– According to Wikipedia, also known as common pet parakeet or shell parakeet and informally nicknamed the budgie, is a small, long-tailed, seed-eating parrot. Among the benefits of owning these “budgies” include low-cost, the ability to mimic human speech, and their very small size. Parakeets are not typically really social, but if around people enough, these little birdies can become great pets.

Finches– These little birds are predominantly seed-eating songbirds, which makes them the perfect little companion for the person who lives alone and needs a little buddy to have a song when called upon. There are many types of finches, both wild and potentially-domesticated, and these very small birds are likely to become great little pets. They eat seeds, need a small space to live, and don’t need much maintenance- just the occasional cage cleaning.

Doves– If you live in a city where you birds can have access to a little outdoor space, doves might be the right choice for you. According to Wikipedia, in general, the terms “dove” and “pigeon” are used somewhat interchangeably. In ornithological practice, “dove” tends to be used for smaller species and “pigeon” for larger ones, but this is in no way consistently applied, and historically, the common names for these birds involve a great deal of variation between the terms. The species most commonly referred to as “pigeon” is the Feral Rock Pigeon, common in many cities. These birds are very social and will love you if you offer food and playtime together.

Lovebirds– Lovebirds are often referred to as small parrots. Large parrots also require a lot of care, but make great pets. Some species are kept as pets, and several color mutations were selectively bred in aviculture. Their average lifespan is 10 to 15 years, so these birds can become your little buddies for quite a long time.

Rabbits- pet rabbit

Rabbits are common pets, but not because they are super easy to care for. Rabbits, like any other pet, need much attention, cleaning, and care. There are a few dozen types of rabbits that make for great pets, but it is important that you know what you are getting into before adopting a floppy-eared friend. Here are some pointers from petfinder.com to think about before adopting a bunny:

  • Because of rabbits’ enormous appeal, people often acquire them for the wrong reasons, and without first doing the necessary homework. Their initial low cost (usually less than $20) encourages impulse purchases, especially for “occasions” such as Easter and birthdays, and their rapid reproduction rate (they can have a new litter approximately every 30 days) encourages the view that they are easily replaceable. In fact, the potential lifespan of a well-cared-for indoor rabbit is seven to 10 years—and some live into their teens. Their soft fur and cuddly appearance give the impression that they are akin to animated stuffed toys—perfect low-maintenance “starter pets.” As a result, when uninformed owners are faced with the daily reality of rabbit care and maintenance, the rabbit often ends up in a shelter.“Rabbit ownership,” says Heidi Hoefer, D.V.M., “requires the same commitment as owning a puppy, and should be taken just as seriously.” Marinell Harriman, president of the national House Rabbit Society (HRS) concurs: “A rabbit has the best chance of becoming a well-loved companion if the adopter is well-prepared.”Books and Internet resources can help close the knowledge gap, but there’s nothing like interacting with rabbits “up close and personal” to give you a feel for this species. Pet shops and rabbit shows, however, are usually high-stress settings for rabbits. Foster homes, as well as some progressive shelters, offer a better chance to meet rabbits and to get to know them in an environment conducive to relaxed interactions, where their personalities can shine.

That said; if you think you are ready for a bunny, here’s a great list from arba.net of types of rabbits that make good companions:

  • The American (12 lbs.)
  • The American Chinchilla (12 lbs.)
  • The American Fuzzy Lop (4 lbs.)
  • The American Sable (10 lbs.)
  • The Belgian Hare (9.5 lbs.)
  • The Beveren (12 lbs.)
  • The Blanc de Hotot (11 lbs.)
  • The Britannia Petite (2.5 lbs.)
  • The Californian (10.5 lbs.)
  • The Chammpagne D’Argent (10.5 lbs.)
  • The Checked Giant (They can get REALLY big)
  • The Cinnamon (11 lbs.)
  • The Creme D’Argent (11 lbs.)
  • The Dutch (5.5 lbs.)
  • The Dwarf Hotot (3 lbs.)
  • The English Angora (7.5 lbs.)
  • The English Lop (at least 10.5 lbs.)
  • The English Spot (8 lbs.)
  • The Flemish Giant (another BIG one)
  • The Florida White (6 lbs.)
  • The French Angora (10.5 lbs.)
  • The French Lop (They get tubby, too)
  • The Giant Angora (BIG)
  • The Giant Chinchilla (16 lbs.)

These are just a few of the 47 unique breeds of rabbits. We’ve included weights because rabbits are often pets meant for children. The lighter they are, obviously, the more easily they are handled (and the less the eat and poop!). For a complete list of rabbits, click here to go to the arba Web site.

pet mouseRodents-

“Rodents” is very broad term. Typically, when we think of rodents, we think of rats, mice, and maybe even hamsters. In fact there are many types of other rodents that make great pets. Some on the following list may seem strange to have as pets, but to each their own I guess. The following list is from wikipedia.com and includes 20 different rodents you could consider for pets:

  • The African ground squirrel- rare, but feisty and beautiful
  • The brown rat- common pets in the U.S., these are docile and surprisingly cute little critters
  • The dwarf hamsters- these guys are quite small and reproduce at a high rate
  • The Capybara- this is the largest rodent in the world. If you don’t have a farm, don’t get one of these big guys!
  • Pocket gophers- these aren’t commonly considered pets, but they sure are cute
  • Mice- easy to care for and oh so cute
  • Chinchillas- these little prickly guys are very docile and cute. They are much like hamsters and mice, just a little more unique and easy to care for.
  • Guinea pigs- these guys are a little larger, a little smellier, and require a little more effort. They are social, but don’t expect them to cuddle up on the couch with you…
  • Hamsters- the typical hamster is about the size of a pack of gum. They are quite active, easy to clean up after and overall, pretty easy to care for. Maybe the most common rodent pet, Hamsters, like the aforementioned dwarf, reproduce quickly and need things to keep them occupied.
  • Squirrels- squirrels? This may be a regional thing, but some like to keep flying squirrels as pets. In the same family of rodent, you’ll find chipmunks and marmots.
  • Gerbils- gerbils are much like hamsters, mice, and rats. Similar in size and time needed to care for them, gerbils are one of the most popular small furry pets. They are inexpensive, can live for a year or more, and don’t mind being handled too much.

Just a note: there are hundreds of different kinds of mice and rats- one of the most popular rodent pets. Your local rescue, shelter, or pet store has domesticated ones that aren’t too wild and are bred to be pets. Most of the above rodents need some sort of aquarium  or cage, feeding supplies, bedding, food, and water. Maybe some toys, too. Other than that, rodents are pretty independent, but because they are easy to care for, they make great pets for kids. If your child shows he or she is capable of caring for a hamster or gerbil, they are probably ready to have a kitty or puppy. If for no other reason, this thinking about having a rodent is a good litmus test for your future pet choices.