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The 10 Cheapest Pets to Own

Mother Guinea Pig and her two babies

We have a serious pet problem in our country. Shelters in cities and towns all over are overflowing with pets who need a home. One reason why so many pets end up in shelters is that people just don’t realize the true cost of a pet.

When you get a pet, such as a dog or cat, you not only have to worry about the upfront purchase price. There’s also the price of food, the cost of medical care, and the cost of toys and accessories.

While the popular pets can be pricey overall, there is such as thing as an affordable pet.

The cheapest pets to own are usually the smallest, so they don’t take up much room in your home, either. Pets with a low cost of ownership are also relatively low maintenance, so they’re ideal for little kids.

Becoming the owner of an affordable pet from a young age prepares your child for owning a more complicated and expensive pet later on. It also teaches him general responsibility.

Hermit Crabs

One of the cheapest pets to own is the hermit crab. You don’t have to take the hermit crab to the vet for regular checkups.

What you do need to do is give it food, water and a slightly larger shell from time to time. The crabs molt their shells as they grow, and need new shells that are 1/3 larger than the previous shells.

You can find new shells at pet stores for a few dollars. The tank you keep your pet in doesn’t have to be elaborate.

A plastic aquarium is sufficient, as long as there is some gravel on the bottom. Food for hermit crabs is sold at pet stores and doesn’t cost much.

Gecko

Like the car insurance it serves as a spokesperson for, a gecko is a pretty inexpensive pet to own.

The upfront cost of a pet gecko can be around $200-$300, which includes the cost of the pet itself. You can find geckos for sale for around $20. Some are as expensive as $75.

All you need to care for a gecko is a plastic terrarium with sand on the bottom. Give him a few logs and small rocks to lounge and play about on.

A regular light bulb costs just a few dollars and is hot enough to heat the gecko’s terrarium. The lizard’s favorite food, meal worms, cost just a few cents per serving.

Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are relatively affordable pets and are considered a good starter furry pet. But, bear in mind that guinea pigs do best when paired with another guinea pig of the same sex, which can increase your costs.

The pets need a large cage to live in, which usually cost less than $50. Bedding, food and toys can get pricey, but you can save by purchasing fresh veggies on sale to feed the pet.

Buying guinea pig pellets in bulk will help you cut costs, too.

Hamster

Hamsters are another relatively inexpensive pet that are ideal for younger children.

Like guinea pigs, the cost of hamster essentials can be several hundred per year. Some types of hamsters, such as dwarf hamsters, are social animals and do best when they have a companion.

Hamsters (and guinea pigs) do require the occasional veterinary visit, which can add to their overall cost considerably, especially if the pet is sick often.

Bugs

Bugs might be the cheapest pets of all, but they can also have the shortest life spans. If you’ve ever caught fireflies on a summer’s night, you know what I mean. Those bugs typically don’t last more than a day or two. On the plus side, you don’t have to feed them, as they don’t eat as adults.

Another way to raise insects as pets is to start an ant farm. Toy stores typically sell ant farm kits for less than $30. To get the ants, you need to send away for them.

The cost of the ants is usually included in the cost of the farm. Once you have the ant farm, it doesn’t require much maintenance or money to keep going.

Goldfish

While people think goldfish are unintelligent creatures with short life spans, the opposite is true.

You will need a rather large tank for the fish, which can cost $50 or more. The fish themselves usually cost less than $1.

You also need to purchase gravel, accessories for the tank, such as plants, and a filter. Once the tank is up and running though, the cost of a goldfish can be less than $100 per year.

Betta Fish

Betta fish can be even easier to care for than goldfish and less expensive. They don’t need a big aquarium or filter to survive.

Instead, they can survive in a relatively small fish bowl. The fish cost around $5, though some can be over $10. It depends on the breed of the fish.

If you care for the fish properly, it can cost around $20 per year to own it, which includes the cost of food and water.

Birds

A grand, magnificent bird can be very expensive to own, but smaller birds such as canaries and finches can be yours for around $100, which includes the cost of food and toys.

To get started as a bird owner, you’ll need a cage, which can cost around $75. Birds do need to be seen by a vet for a year check up, as well.

Chickens

If it’s legal to own chickens where you live, you might find that keeping one as a pet helps you save money, as you can use their eggs instead of buying eggs from the grocery.

Baby chicks cost around $5, though you can often find them for less. Chicken feed can be pretty cheap, around $15 for a 50 pound bag.

Rats

You might not like the idea of owning a pet rat, but they are really inexpensive. Although they have gotten a bad name, rats are really affectionate and loving creatures.

It typically costs around $300 a year for a rat, which includes the cost of food, bedding and toys. Care for a rat won’t take up much of your time, either.

They need a weekly cage cleaning and about an hour of time outside the cage each day.

“The 10 Cheapest Pets to Own” was written by Kelly Anderson.¬†