Good things come in little packages!
Are you looking for a starter pet for a child? Do you live in an apartment or a smaller space? Do you lack the time to care for a cat or dog? One of these small pets may be just right for you.
1. Guinea pig
I love guinea pigs because they're cute, cuddly and full of personality. They squeak, shriek and even purr. Guinea pigs come in long-hair or short-hair, as well as many different sizes and colors. I recommend the short-haired variety, because they require less care and cleaning.
Small enough to fit in your pocket, hamsters only require a small cage or aquarium—although larger systems with bridges and penthouses are more fun!
Hamsters like to keep busy exploring and chewing. Because hamsters are so small, however, they're not recommended for very young children.
3. Hermit crab
Prefer something less furry? Maybe this is the pet for you. A hermit crab won't cuddle up in your arms, but it's quiet, interesting and unusual. Plus, it's always cool to see a seashell suddenly get up and walk.
Rabbits can be very sweet. My rabbits lived in a large hutch outside but frequently came inside to play.
Some rabbits can be litter-box trained and will hop about a safe home environment. But keep in mind that they can be skittish and nervous. Also, most rabbits require a larger cage than other small animals and will need room to exercise.
5. Tetra fish
These are a good choice for beginners. Tetra fish are hardy, active and fun to watch. Neon tetra are bright and colorful. Keep them in a school of six or more. They're easy to care for, and as an added bonus, aquariums are peaceful.
How do you decide which one to get? You might want them all! Ten-year-old Haley Madera of Washington, who owns both a guinea pig (Speckles) and a hamster (Millie), offers this opinion: "Guinea pigs are easy to take care of. They like to hide in your arm or someplace warm. Hamsters are more active. You can get creative, building tunnels and play spaces for them with cardboard boxes and tubes."
Peggy Frezon, freelance writer and pet lover, has owned dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, hermit crabs, turtles and fish. Visit here twice monthly to read helpful tips on caring for your pets and check out her blog.