The Illusion of Easy Pets
The appeal of cats and dogs is well known: they’re loving, they’re affectionate and they’re fun. But they’re also expensive and time-consuming. As rewarding as owning a large, playful pet can be, it just isn’t practical for everybody. There’s many people out there who want a pet but can’t commit to the constant attention that dogs and cats require. They may think it’s more feasible to get an “easy” pet – such as a fish, hermit crab or rabbit – but there’s no such thing. Every pet, no matter how big or small, is a living, breathing creature that has specific, and surprisingly demanding, needs.
Fish are notorious for being the go-to choice for kids who want their own pet or those who don’t have the proper budget to care for a bigger animal. Betta fish, specifically, are a good option because they have beautiful coloring and they’re relatively inexpensive: starter kits cost somewhere around $20. Now all that’s left to do is drop the fish in the bowl and call it a day, right? Nope. Bettas, and fish in general, aren’t just pieces of home décor that can sit for months in a stagnant tank with inches of water. At a minimum, Bettas need a 2.5 gallon tank, but ideally it should be closer to 5 gallons. Twenty to 25 percent of the water should be changed every week, and it should be treated and conditioned. And don’t think walking into a pet store and grabbing the first container of fish flakes displayed on the counter will suffice: Bettas need a protein-rich, meaty diet.
Anyone who has been to a seaside boardwalk knows that almost every store is littered with cages full of hermit crabs climbing all over each other. Hermit crabs’ shells are decorated with paintings of superheroes, Disney princesses, sports teams and abstract colors to appeal to buyers of all ages and interests. They’re small and they’re crabs: how much upkeep do they actually require? Although the beach side shops will bundle them with cheap, plastic starter kits, that doesn’t provide hermit crabs with enough room. Ideally, they need a 10 gallon glass aquarium. They need to be kept in climate-controlled environments around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and humidity levels should be around 70 percent at all times. Hermit crabs do better when they have friends and toys to play with, and they require sand, all of which lead to more messes and, consequently, more clean ups.
Rabbits are more playful and entertaining when compared against their fish and crustacean counter parts, yet they still carry the stigma of being a low-maintenance pet. It seems like a win-win: owners get a more interactive experience while still avoiding an animal that’s time and attention consuming. Rabbits have specific housing and feeding needs, require exercise, mental stimulation and vet check-ups, and they have lifespans somewhat comparable to cats and dogs.
Properly caring for an animal is a multi-year, expensive commitment. As eye-catching as a stunning Betta, colorful hermit crab or fluffy bunny can be, pet ownership isn’t an impulsive or spontaneous decision. Potential owners need to make sure that they can, and will, provide all the necessary care to make every pet’s life the best it can be.