Growing up in a household where dogs and kids are equal, I went to college feeling lost without a pet. Dorms don’t allow anything furry in but my friends down the hall went a different path, fish. After deciding their beta fish wasn’t manly enough with his pink coloring, the boys bought two sharp toothed, ornery, piranhas fondly named Marcus and Aurelius. After rescuing the beta fish from disaster, Carlos came to live with my friends and me. But as the year ended and we got our apartment, something was still missing. Filling the gap, I researched and decided on getting Sheldon- the hedgehog. Perfect for my no large pet apartment, Sheldon fit my qualifications. He’s hypoallergenic—to save my poor roommate—litter trained, and eats easy to buy kitten food. In my search I wanted something that I could cuddle but also would know who I was, unlike mice and hamsters. Apartment pets are tricky, and it is important to look at one that fits your lifestyle.
Dorms: Many colleges have strict no pet rules. Learn what they are and talk with your Resident Heads before purchasing anything just to be sure. In this type of situation, fish are the easiest to allow. Goldfish and beta fish are pretty self-sufficient and require only a change of water once a week and food. If those fish are “too mellow” as my friends claimed, there are also piranhas and the more flashy salt-water fish. These, however, require a larger amount of attention, more expensive care and food. Most likely furry critters are out of the question because of allergies, but sometimes dorms will allow hermit crabs (minimum amount of care), and other small reptiles like frogs, snakes, and some lizards. Again, it is important to understand how much the animal and its care will cost, and the amount of space it will take up.
Apartment Pets: If dogs and cats are out, as was my case, it is first important to access what is allowed and how much space you can give it. Small mammals such as mice, rats, and hamsters would require limited amount of space, time, care, and the cheapest food. Negatives are that they are not very responsive, cannot be litter trained, and may have a slight odor. Going up a bit in size and care are bunnies and gerbils. Benefits are that they respond more to their caretakers, don’t necessarily require a lot of time or care, and have accessible, inexpensive food. They do require more space and care, but if you’re looking for an inexpensive pet, these are the best options. Bordering the exotic side are ferrets, chinchillas, birds, larger reptiles, and of course my favorite, the hedgehog. These guys will demand more space, more time, and more money than the latter. In exchange, they are more attached to their owners and can be trained: tricks, games, and the litter box. Again, these are pets that are easily accessible in both maintenance and food requirements. Finally, the truly exotic pets: domestic skunk (need a license), sugar glider, tarantula, pot-bellied pigs, and newts. Like the bordering pets, these guys are all very unique and demand different types and amounts of attention. They will be the most expensive to purchased and the most difficult to feed. But many say that it is worth it.
Questions to ask Before Buying
1. How much time do I have to spend?
2. How much money can I afford to spend on food, cage, toys and the pet itself?
3. How accessible is its food? Can I buy it at a local pet shop?
4. Will it need a cage? A kennel? A terrarium?
5. Does it need shots? Vitamins?
6. What about traveling?
And if in the end, pets just seem to much work, get a cactus.