February 20, 2012

Pet Sounds

Glitter died yesterday.

(For those of you scratching your heads, Glitter was the latest of Mia's fish.)

Mia was only partially devastated. Frankly, we saw this coming. Glitter was acting a bit lethargic. She wasn't eating. She refused to fetch the newspaper. But still, it's sad.

Since Mia is six, we're thinking a new pet is in order. And not something you can flush. Conveniently. I mean, I'm sure a hamster would go down given enough prodding but that's not plumbing bill I feel like paying.

Mia's allergic to cats and dogs and lord knows what else. So we're tossing ideas around. Hamsters and gerbils have been recommended. Me, I think a snake or iguana would be cool. But we've really got no clue whatsoever.

So, Internet, what would be the perfect pet for Mia?

Posted by Chris at February 20, 2012 7:58 AM

I tell you this from only partial experience: I don't recommend an iguana, as the one we had kind of sucked. BUT, my sister has a smaller lizard - the kind that has somewhat of a shovel-shaped head and is brown - and she says that thing is pretty sweet. If you're going to go the reptile route, that might be decent.

Posted by: Claire at February 20, 2012 8:16 AM

Claire is on the right track - I think she is talking about a bearded dragon. They are awesome! And they are playful, as far as lizards go. I have never known one to be aggressive. It would be worth checking into.

Posted by: Winna at February 20, 2012 8:25 AM

Lizards are great as are tarantulas. Never a big fan of rodents, with the exception of chinchillas, due to the urine odor. Research your choices for maintenance and commitment levels.
So many exciting options. Look forward to you posting about the new family member.

Posted by: Diane Everhart at February 20, 2012 8:25 AM

You'll probably think this is disgusting, as most people do, but I would recommend a rat. At the age of 7, my daughter wanted a pet. At the pet store, the guy took out a hamster to show her, the hamster was so wiggly and sporadic, that the guy himself could barely handle it. Knowing that my daughter would lose interest in an animal that she could only watch and not interact with, I had the guy take out one of the baby rats. He was able to hold the rat in his hand and then the rat rode along on his shoulder while we were deciding. We bought the rat, we take him out of his cage every day (we've had him a year) and hold him and let him run on the floor (while being supervised). She loves him so much more than she would have loved a hamster.

Posted by: Heather at February 20, 2012 8:27 AM

Having grown up with nothing I have to ask - why does she need a pet? Wait I take that back - we got 3 fan tailed goldfish when we were around 10. They all lived a pretty long time - the last to die was about 11 years old. My mother took care of them more than anyone else. I'm just not a Pet Person I guess which is why I ask!

I have a cat now (since my son was 7), one sister has had a succession of dogs (her husband owns a boarding kennel) and my other sister had a dog and currently has a cat. The cat is essentially mine because I'm the only one who ever feeds him or cleans out his litter box. I can't go into the kitchen without him following me.

Posted by: NancyB at February 20, 2012 8:28 AM

how about a hedgehog or chinchilla?

Posted by: denise at February 20, 2012 8:41 AM

She might very well be allergic to a hamster or guinea pig as well, so that's something to think about. Personally, I wouldn't want a reptile, but if she's not squeamish (and you're not either!) a lizard might be nice.

Posted by: Fraulein N at February 20, 2012 9:37 AM

Hermit crabs can be pretty fun and are relatively easy to care for.

Posted by: Traci at February 20, 2012 9:49 AM

My cousin's hedgehog was adorable, but I'm not sure if it's hypoallergenic. Aren't poodles? A friend has a tea cup poodle and another had a mini, and although both are allergic to dogs they aren't allergic to poodles because they don't have fur. I know they have some sort of fur, just not the allergic kind.

Posted by: Maribeth at February 20, 2012 10:17 AM

Just remember when picking out a small pet to inquire about their sleeping habits. Case in point: hamsters are nocturnal. Its no fun hearing them running on a squeaky wheel at 2am.

Posted by: J at February 20, 2012 10:22 AM

Turtle? Or a hypoallergenic cat or dog!

And, yes, hamsters do make a ton of noise at night...

What about a guinea pig? If you're going for the noisy animal anyway, you might as well go full force! :)

Posted by: Poppy at February 20, 2012 10:32 AM

Hedgehogs are really sweet. I've also heard that rats make great pets. I wouldn't want a snake or iguana in my house, but my friend has a snake and loves it. Iguana's, I've heard, are escape artists and get out of virtually any tank you put them in! What about a bird? Like a cockateal or a parrot, something really flashy with a lot of personality like Mia?

Posted by: Kate M at February 20, 2012 10:44 AM

How about a myna bird? They are very smart & verbal, & can be trained to say hundreds of things. You could go dr evil & get a hairless cat, lol. Dogs like bichons & shih tzus are great for allergic kids because they don't shed, so no dander. Bearded dragons and rodents that fit into hamster balls are fun. Hermit crabs are great, & as a bonus, can live off peanut butter....

Posted by: tifRN at February 20, 2012 11:35 AM

I'm throwing in my vote for a turtle. Generally hypoallergenic, and with proper care, they can live for decades. A little slider turtle, with a brightly colored shell, may be fun for her.

Posted by: J at February 20, 2012 11:57 AM

How about an aquarium? Maintained probably, many types of aquarium fish will live for years.

My son got a King snake when he was 11. It's a nice low maintenance pet, but its not exactly cuddly. Also, a snake in captivity can live 20+ years, so think ahead to what you will do with the snake when Mia heads off to college. I know it seems like a long time off, but that's what we thought too. Now here I am, probably getting responsibility for a pet snake next fall.

Posted by: COD at February 20, 2012 12:05 PM

I had a leopard gecko in college. It was a great pet. (I will not discuss how my sister killed it when I went away for two days - but I might harbor a tiny grudge). Despite my sister's ineptitude, they're fairly easy to care for and, if you train them while they are youngish, plenty ameniable to letting you pet/play/snuggle with them.

Posted by: NGS at February 20, 2012 12:12 PM

Hamster shavings are not good for you if you have allergies. If you get a female hamster and it is pregrant umm it could be dicey. they eat their young. Yes, I have seen it and was pretty traumatic. gerbils can be mean and crazy. lizard would be good but research which is more for the family. poodles are hyperallerginic and there are other breeds. have fun. what about a bird. not sure about the allergy factor though.

Posted by: charlene at February 20, 2012 12:28 PM

I have also been thinking about allergy-free pets for six year olds. I'm leaning toward hermit crabs -- they're easy, interactive, small, inexpensive, easy to obtain, and not too creepy.

Posted by: @MommysMinions at February 20, 2012 12:57 PM

I know you are trying to be funny in your post, but the death of any pet should not be taken jokingly...even a fish is a living being. Maybe before you consider another pet, you should consider why you think they are expendable.

Maybe it just hit me wrong today...

Posted by: Tera at February 20, 2012 3:04 PM

i'm with the hypoallergenic dog, though i hate to say it but i lean toward no pets at all after the dog and cat we have now! i think they are the devil :)

as a kid i wanted a rabbit. and i caught lizards and snakes and frogs daily in the yard. :)

Posted by: kati at February 20, 2012 3:55 PM

I'm inclined to agree with the rat suggestion, and I don't even like rodents. They are smart, easy to interact with, live a while, and from what I've been told, be really fun.

Posted by: Deb at February 20, 2012 4:11 PM

Hamsters and gerbils are easy to take care of, although I feel like they tend to escape on a semi-regular basis. I had a chinchilla in college and he was AWESOME - just as easy to care for as a hamster or gerbil, but SUPER soft and fluffy and with a much longer lifespan. (I have no idea how expensive/difficult they are to procure, though, since I adopted mine from a friend.) I've also heard that hedgehogs can make good/adorable pets, but I have no experience with them.

Posted by: Dawn at February 20, 2012 4:51 PM

My Owen just got a mouse. At first I was very "Ick" about him, but upon research they are more friendly than hamsters(read: don't bite)and cleaner. I have to say, the little guy has grown on me and it's quite cute and inexpensive.

Posted by: Sharri at February 20, 2012 6:22 PM

Rat, rabbit, or iguana. Domesticated rats- and you have to make sure the rat was raised to be a pet and not raised to be food (or it will still be a gentle pet, but possibly uber skittish)- are very social, clean and friendly, interactive animals. Being super social they actually require either a rat-mate or a lot of human interaction.

Posted by: Karen at February 20, 2012 7:26 PM

Chinchilla - my sons best friend has one and he is one cool little Chinchilla.

Posted by: steff at February 20, 2012 8:20 PM

We had a rat that lasted almost three years. Our children were devastated when she died. However, as gross as it first seemed, I got used to it and it was a great pet for the kids. She was durable and the kids were able to handle her and play with her.

Posted by: Sarah at February 20, 2012 10:26 PM

We have guinea pigs and they're nice but higher maintenance than I expected. I've had a rat before and they are cute. If you want a rodent I'd go with a rat, probably a female. I like the turtle idea, never had one though.

Posted by: Annie at February 20, 2012 10:32 PM

I'm going to put in another vote for a pair of pet rats.

Rats are extremely social and friendly little animals, and very smart. They're much more receptive to interaction with kids than a hamster or a gerbil. (They're also bigger, and a little more sturdy.) If well cared for, they usually live 2-3 years.

Because rats are so social, they are much happier animals and live longer if you have them in pairs, instead of by themselves.

My sister is a rat expert, having had probably a dozen over the last six years. (She has 6 right now!) If you might be considering rats as a pet, and you want recommendations from her, I'd be happy to put you in touch.

Posted by: Melody at February 21, 2012 12:21 PM

I am advising against a snake. We had one about 15 years ago. We got rid of it when it almost bit my husband when it was shedding (they loose a scale over their eyes, so they can't see well during shedding). They are also laregly nocturnal and not cuddly. Plus, live food gets to be scary as they get bigger.

Posted by: Annie at February 22, 2012 12:08 AM

We had a lobster. Totally awesome.

Posted by: Danita at February 22, 2012 1:25 AM

My daughter wanted a guinea pig. After realizing that they really should be in pairs and need much larger cages than most people provide, we went with a teddy bear hamster. I've got to tell you that I feel like the world's worst human because of that cute little fuzz ball and would never do it again.

Our hamster is so smart (I swear, she responds to her name) and spends hours every night trying to escape her cage. We bought a great cage - it's appropriately sized with loads of tubes that we periodically rearrange and a nice big wheel. But every night she goes from opening to opening, testing every one. Then she goes to the door and tugs at the latch for hours on end. She has managed to escape a few times when one of the kids didn't get things locked up just right. It takes hours to find her, and the last time she got hurt (though she recovered like a champ). I know I'm probably nuts, but I really do feel so guilty for owning this animal. None of my friends seem to have problems with their hamsters, despite providing what I would consider much worse living conditions for the little creatures.

Sorry to be a downer, I just wish I'd known how smart these creature are before I locked one up in a cage. Good luck in your search!

Posted by: Kate M at February 22, 2012 8:55 AM

I'm on the rat bandwagon. I have three friends that have them, and I love them all, and they are all amazing creatures.

I have no desire to house a reptile in my house. I live in the desert. I see enough of them, thanks.

Posted by: Mindy at February 22, 2012 1:48 PM

Is a hypo-allergenic dog/cat an option?

Otherwise I vote for turtle.

Posted by: chalica at February 22, 2012 4:42 PM