Top Five Cheap and Easy Pets
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Top Five Cheap and Easy Pets

Many people search for cheap and easy pets. This is a list of five animals that make great pets, and are not expensive and do not require hours of work.

Many people want a pet that is both cheap and easy. This is especially true of kids who are trying to convince their parents to get them a pet. No pet is truly cheap or easy; other than perhaps a pet rock. To be fair to those folks who actually want a living pet, the following list is a few animals that should be considered. Remember - no pet is “maintenance-free” all pets require some care, feeding, and responsibility.

Vegetarian Insects

walking stick insects

Photo by my husband

There are lots of different insects a person can keep, some need to eat other insects, the praying mantis would be an example of this. These are certainly cheaper than most pets but may not be easy as it means a person must supply live food for their pet. As such the vegetarian insects, those that eat leaves and such, are the cheapest and easiest pet on this list.

A good example of a vegetarian insect is the Walking Stick. These can be kept in a small jar or even a goldfish type bowl, as long as they have a lid. A small aquarium of 5-10 gallons is even better if you are to keep more than 1 pet or wish to breed them.

In the summer one only has to go outside and pick leaves off their own garden plants to feed them (provided the leaves have not be sprayed with anything). They love apple leaves, raspberry, and sassafras. In the winter they can be fed a leave or two of romaine lettuce every few days. Other than that all they need is a stick to climb on (for skin shedding) and a regular misting, and a damp sponge to drink from.

Hermit Crabs

hermit crab

photo source

Hermit Crabs have a long lifespan so while kids might be looking for a simple pet, they find themselves with a 10 year commitment.

Fortunately Hermit Crabs don't need a lot of space, a small container will do just fine, it needs to have floor space but does not need to be tall. They need a place with water and land. Hermit crabs are easier than most pets because they do not need to be taken out and exercised regularly. The concerns with them are that as they grow they must shed the shell they live in and move into a larger one. As such the most important step for care of these animals is to provide them with alternative shells for their growth.

Most pet supply stores sell a pellet hermit crab food and as such feeding is relatively easy. Their tank does not need a lot of maintenance but should be cleaned monthly.

Betta Fish

betta fish male

photo source

As easy as Betta fish are many owners get sloppy in their care and kill their fish prematurely. Betta fish have a lifespan of over 5 years, a fact that you may want to consider.

Most Bettas that are sold in the stores are males, being prettier and usually having longer fins than the females. Although they can be kept with other fish if the tank is large enough, they do quite well on their own and should not be kept with other Bettas. Males will even fight females when the female is not in her breeding pattern.

Bettas are easier, and cheaper, than most other fish because their tank set up does not need to be as elaborate. For example they do not need an air pump or filter. They do like their water to be warm, so a warmer house is preferred, and do require water changes (although they are more tolerant of dirty water than some other fish).

Never buy a Betta fish from a place that keeps them in tiny cups. Not only are you rewarding cruelty but risk buying a stressed and unhealthy pet.


goldfish in a pond

photo from

Goldfish are often mistakenly thought of as a very easy fish, however many people make a simple mistake that actually stunts these animals.  Goldfish should not be kept in goldfish bowls. Some places, such as Rome, have even ruled this as cruel and inhumane, making it illegal. It is not true that goldfish will only grow to the size of the bowl. In fact small bowls stunt the fish because the water gets dirty so quickly even with only one fish.

Additionally goldfish are not as “dumb” as people once thought, they have been found to be able to learn to swim through mazes.

Different types of goldfish grow to different sizes, a person needs to learn how large their fish will grow and provide the right size tank. While goldfish do not need air pumps, a filter or regular water changes are a must.

For those with the ability, goldfish can be kept in outdoor ponds. Many people in cold climates then keep the fish in a large indoor aquarium over the winter.

Bantam Chickens


photo source

You might have expected to see hamsters, or some other rodent on this list, but they are not actually all that easy to care for and need more time out of their cages than most people give, as well they should have much larger cages than most people house them in, so even small rodents are a lot of work and expense.

Bantam Chickens are smaller than regular birds and do well as pets. Most people keep them outdoors in a chicken coop. While many people think of chickens as smelly animals, if not keep overcrowded they are not smelly at all.

Hens generally make better pets simply because they are not as loud as roosters. The main benefit of keeping pet chickens is, of course, eggs! Hens do not need roosters to lay eggs.  *Always check area laws in regards to keeping chickens.

As far as cost and care, chickens can be bought relatively cheap, if one knows where to look. Go to your local livestock feed store and ask about local Odd and Unusual livestock auctions, or if they sell chickens, or know who does.  Just as with cats and dogs, there are many different Bantam Chicken breeds.

Pet chickens need a shelter for night, which can be an old shed. It must have a place for them to roost, and a nesting box (1 nesting box for every 3-4 birds). In the day they can be out and will eat bugs when allowed, as such you should not use pesticides. Hens will need to be fed laying ration and can be given chicken scratch as a treat. They will need a waterer, and grit. If you use the right kind of feeders, they may only need to be filled up once a week.

As far as cleaning duties go, the hens should be checked at least once daily for eggs (they generally don't lay, or lay less in the winter), but again, if not crowded, the coop itself may not need to be cleaned more than once every few weeks.

Remember in most areas it is illegal to catch and keep any wild animal. Always buy your pets from reputable sellers.

Related Links

Northern Walking Stick Insects

Top Ten Most Demanding Pets

14 Exotic Pets

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Comments (15)

Nice list. In high school we had walking sticks in our class. I still love them. In Dutch they are called "wandelende takken", or literally: walking branches. But I have to admit the hermit crab might not be available in my country.

We always had a beta and they are so graceful and beautiful. And do not ever put two together - don't they call them beta fighting fish? We had one with some angel fish and the angel fish were very aggressive towards the beta and ragged his beautiful fins - so we just separted them. Relaxing creatures, easy to care for and good for the kids.

Beautiful list

Excellent tips, Brenda. Sometimes we however ignore the financial side of pet keeping giving priority to what makes us happy which leaves our pocket empty.


Hermit Crab info-They need a good amount of space unlike these people say(i have a 10gallon for my 3hermits)There water needs to be declorinated along with them needing salt water....GET HERMIT CRAB SALT BECAUSE THE IODINE IN TABLE SALT IS VERY HARMFUL TO THEM!The crabitat needs to be kept between 75-80 degrees(heat pads will do) and the humidity needs to be kept at atleast 70percent.DONT LISTEN TO THE PETSTORES BECAUSE A MOIST SPONG WILL NOT MAKE IT HUMID ENOUGH:YOU NEED TO PURCHASE TERRARIUM MOSS(WHICH IS ALL NATURAL WITH NO DYES)AND MIST IT WITH DECLORINATED WATER SEVERAL TIMES A DAY.Also,commercial food is not very healthy you need to provide them with fresh fruits and vegetables daily.They need natural shells too because the painted shells are harmfu

I knew Betta fish would show up here. I got into these last year and they're so much better than going the expensive route with tropical tanks - they are so lively they practically leap out of the bowl whenever someone walks past them. All for $1.50, Loved this. Voted and appreciated.

This is an outstanding article.

I keep goldfish in my bathtub pond because they eat mosquito larvae. They winter over well as long as the gases are given a means of escape. I swear they grow large enough to eat! Evey once in a while a heron will come to visit but the fish are smart.

I think my favourites are the goldfish and the hens! I hadn't actually thought there were any easy pets bar goldfish so if I'm going to get anything else it will probably be the hens... easy to care for and you get fresh eggs!

Ranked #4 in Pets

These all surprised me. Personally I like huggable pets, but a pet is a pet. Thank you for the fun and educational read. Voted up.


i belive this is a great artical. i was looking for a easy pet for my children and got them each hertmit crabs. my 12 children now each have a loveing pet. my children range from 16-5 and they each still show much intrest. this is a good pet.

Frank tirizio

Good choice at this time of year.

this is a wonderful list of first time pets that dont include a lot of care. also many of these pets can be had if you live in a no pets, cats and dogs, environment. they are also wonderful for allergies. thanks for sharing

I like hermit crabs. -have seen some rather large ones...