Which house pets are easiest on your home?
By Cris Carl, Networx
When considering owning a pet, may want to consider how your new pet may affect your home. Susan Koch, owner of Animal Crackers in Greenfield, Mass., offers up advice on the range of possibilities.
Small lizards, snakes, and frogs
Koch especially recommends the African Clawed Frog for the simplest, easiest pet to have in your home. “Their requirements are really low. They have been found living under ice and in very hot environments,” she said. Koch added that the frogs are maintained in a small tank, eat pellets and live approximately five to 10 years. “You just have to be careful with the bowl or tank and clean it out routinely,” said Koch.
Koch said other easy-to-maintain pets include Fire Belly Toads, and other small lizards. “They are very popular. Just keep a clean dish of water in their tank for them to drink and bathe in and a little place to hide,” said Koch. Koch said that the only maintenance issues might be feeding live crickets and bugs to toads and small reptiles (if the crickets escape), and a little extra use of electricity for a small lamp for the pet’s warmth.
Snakes have similar needs, but eat rodents. The only difficulty you might encounter is if they manage to get loose. If your snake does get loose, be certain they will look for someplace warm to hide out.
While hobbyists may spend lots of time cleaning tanks and filters for their fish, there is minimal impact on your home, unless a tank breaks. “Along these lines a Beta is very easy to keep. Once a week you clean up their water and you are good to go,” said Koch.
Ferrets and small rodents
“Mice (also hamsters and gerbils) are easy keepers, but you don’t want to let them get loose. The little devils chew, boy do they chew,” said Koch. "With small rodents, mostly you just need to keep the cage clean." The number of small rodents you have in the cage or tank will determine how often you will need to clean in order to avoid unpleasant odors.
“Ferrets are more of a presence in your home. They can be quite ‘odorific,’” said Koch with a laugh. “Their aim (when urinating) isn’t always the best either,” she said. Koch described another possible problem when keeping a ferret in your home. Ferrets need time out of the cage to explore and get exercise. “You just have to watch out for them getting into little places and making it theirs,” she said.
Koch told an antidote about her own pet ferret she owned as a teen and the mess and odor the ferret left behind in a small couch she had in her bedroom. She said, “Ferrets sweat and they always have a musky smell to them. They need to be shampooed regularly or they get really gamey.”
“The little guys, the smaller they are, the more stuff they kick around. Their poops tend to travel pretty far too,” said Koch. Koch said that larger birds can cause more significant damage to a home if not properly trained from a young age. “The bigger birds, you have to really watch them, they will chew your woodwork if they are given latitude,” said Koch. Koch recommends conditioning the bird to chew other toys and objects. “The bigger they are it’s a good idea to have a tree for them to hang out in,” said Koch.
“The litter box is always an issue,” said Koch. The litter, besides smelling if you don’t keep up with it, can get dragged around the house and even into your bedding. In addition, Koch said that other effects on your home will include cleaning up after shedding and training the cat to not scratch furniture. Koch recommended a type of sticky pad that can be placed on the edges of furniture as cats don’t like the feel of them. “Of course, some people just use squirt guns to train their cats not to scratch furniture or climb on kitchen counters,” said Koch.
“I love dogs, but they are hard on a house, and they are going to make a mess. The bigger the dog, the bigger the mess,” said Koch. Besides dealing with shedding (some dogs, such as poodles, do not shed), dogs can cause a lot of damage to wood floors due to the hardness of their nails. Keeping their nails clipped helps with this problem.
A much greater problem can arise if your dog has anxiety issues. They will dig, burrow, chew, and generally create a path of destruction if they are afraid of storms or have separation issues. “I had one dog that was afraid of thunder and ended up taking out a whole door casing,” said Koch. Having a kennel or crate for your dog can help you avoid these types of problems.
Naturally, as a dog owner you will need to be aware of their bathroom needs. I don’t think that kind of mess and damage needs to be overstated. “You can leave a cat alone, they are very independent. But dogs have to depend on you to be able to get out to pee and poop,” said Koch.
“All these are potential problems. But they are not problems if you don’t let them happen,” said Koch.