When it comes to pet care, dogs require devoted training, time, effort, and plenty of care items like toys, beds, leashes, etc. Cats need daily litter scooping, feeding, playtime and odor control if they are inside-only pets. When a child is young, or an adult is inexperienced in pet ownership, jumping right in with a high-strung purebred can be a LOT to handle. If you are not ready to launch in with the commitment level that canines and felines require, here are some safer alternatives that would be less of an adjustment.
Parakeets: These chipper little birds will not only keep you company vocally, but will bring a brightness to any room. They are easy-going, their chirps are subtle and conversational rather than jarringly loud. If you get their wings clipped, they can even wander around the house with you, or sit on your shoulder as they are social and grow close to their owners. They are not expensive to purchase or even maintain, and they are easy to train. They can learn to say up to 100 words, and they love to dance when music plays. Parakeets are great additions to any room where you want some lively excitement and comedy. NOTE: If you enjoy the companionship of a bird, and are looking for a life-long pet, parrots can live up to 80 years!
Gerbils and Hamsters: If you were hoping for something you could cuddle and hold in your hand, a hamster or gerbil is a great pet. They entertain themselves, if given a running wheel and a fair sized cage. Cleaning out the cage does not take very long, and they will use the same bag of food for quite a long time. Be careful not to let them out of your sight though, since they can get through small spaces, and are quick to escape! Hamsters only live about 2-4 years, so the commitment is not a long one.
Guinea Pigs: If you want a rodent-sized animal that is larger and easier to hold, (and less likely to nibble fingers than a hamster), a guinea pig is a good option. Not only do they make adorable little “oinking” sounds, but they tend to be less skittish than other rodents. Be careful not to put a male and female together, or these guys will replicate quickly, and they can live up to 8-10 years!
Rabbits: Not only are rabbits soft and silky, but they are one of the most low-maintenance pets. They hardly ever make any noise, and they are content to eat the fresh veggies or produce you might be looking to toss out. Bunnies have the best demeanors when they are held often from a young age, as this makes them more open to handling.
Turtles: These pets move slowly, and are silent creatures. They eat produce, and require minimal cage cleaning. Even if you happen to let the turtle out for an excursion around the room, it is very unlikely he will get into any trouble without you noticing. They are peculiar pets that are content with however much (or however little) time you choose to invest in them!
Other fun pets for beginners: lizards and geckos (who can live up to 20 years!), frogs, exotic fish, mice, and even spiders.