Choosing A Pet for Your Apartment

So you’ve moved into your first apartment? That’s fantastic! I’ll bet you are brimming with the excitement that comes with finally acquiring that first taste of freedom! Or perhaps you’ve moved from the suburbs to the inner city simply for a lifestyle change? How exciting! But be warned; as you begin to arrange your collection of charmingly mismatched furniture, unpack your grandmother’s wartime cutlery into the draws, and realize that your wardrobe will never hold all of your clothes, you might realize that something is missing.

Many people who move into apartment buildings or flats after living in the suburbs, or even the wide open spaces of the country, feel that they miss the companionship and affection of the household cat or dog, even if they are living with a partner or housemates. Yet logistically, it is often impractical for them to introduce a new animal into their homes. For example, dogs need lots of open space to run around in, they need somewhere to relieve themselves, and are at a higher risk of being killed by collisions with traffic in a higher density urban area.

Inner city living also raises welfare issues; dogs, and even cats, that are kept in confined spaces for large periods of time often experience a poor quality of life, and develop destructive behaviors which may take their toll on your new home, especially your mismatched furniture. However, if you still wish to experience the joys that a new pet can bring to the household, there are other options you can consider.

5 Apartment Friendly Pets

Fish

Now this is the most obvious one, yet most people find fish to be rather uninteresting pets, and would prefer something a little more interactive. However, you can make them much more exciting than the one tiny goldfish swimming around and around his little bowl. These days, tropical fish are readily available from specialty pet stores and aquarium shops, as well as all the equipment you will need to keep them swimming.

This will depend on the types of fish you chose; most tropical fish will need a large tank and warm water to survive, so you will need an aquarium heater and a thermometer to monitor the temperature accordingly, and some fish , such as most types of angelfish, will need salt water because their natural habitat is the ocean, but you will be advised on this by the shop assistant and fish expert before you are allowed to purchase the fish.

There are a huge range of beautiful species to choose from, with the most popular species being the Angelfish, Butterfly Fish, and Clownfish (courtesy of finding Nemo), but if you have right aquarium set up, you can also keep live coral, sea anemones and even seahorses (although you will need to enquire about a permit for these).

Turtles

Turtles are the new novelty pet; everybody wants to own a turtle. There is a little bit more effort involved in keeping them than fish, but once you’ve set them up the hard work is done, and you will be rewarded with a unique and slightly more interactive pet for your efforts. A small turtle, or even a number of small turtles, can be kept very well indoors, provided that they have the right enclosure.

This requires a gravel base that slopes up to an elevation at one side, which will provide for them a basking area. The water should be filled up to a height greater than the width of your turtles, so they can roll over in the water without getting caught on the bottom; having said that, they do need to be able to get out of the water whenever they want. The pH of the water needs to be around 7.8-8.0, and at a temperature of 18-21 degrees Celsius.

In terms of lighting, turtles need a defined day and night cycle, so if the room you are keeping them is poorly lit, it would be advised to invest in both white incandescent lighting to be turned on and off according to the length of the day, and UV lights, which can be purchased from the turtle retailer or a pet store. In terms of feeding, most turtles you can buy are carnivorous, but it is best to buy good commercial turtle food rather than just feeding them chunks of meat. Turtles should be fed 3 to 5 times weekly, depending on how many you have in your new aquarium.

Guinea Pigs

“But I can’t cuddle a fish or a turtle” you say. Well, if you are looking for something a little fuzzier and affectionate, then perhaps a guinea pig is the best option for you. Guinea Pigs, provided they are given lots of love and attention when they are young, are very affectionate pets that can be cuddled extensively and are a little easier to take care of then, say, a turtle aquarium.

They do require space to run around in, yet this can be provided through many commercially designed guinea pig enclosures, or you could just corner off a space in your apartment for them (although if you go with this option, you may have to spend some time training them to use a litter tray). They can be fed a pellet diet of commercial guinea pig food, although it would be best to supplement this with some fresh vegetables from time to time, such as lettuce, carrot and celery.

Ferrets

However, if you are looking for something with a little more personality, then I would suggest the ferret. These are highly energetic little animals that show high interactivity with toys and games, and a level of intelligence that allows them to be trained quite easily; some have even been known to perform tricks! However, you will need a lot of energy to keep up with these guys, and they will need to be let out of their enclosure for exercise.

Still there are a number of ferret specific toys and accessories to keep them active and entertained; you can even put a leash on them and take them for a walk. I would suggest, however, that for apartment living it would be best to try and purchase females, as the males tend to spray a very nasty smelling pheromone during mating seasons. Ferrets are carnivorous, but any good quality commercial ferret food will be fine to feed them.

Teacup Pigs

Finally, we end with the most unconventional animal, yet one that has shot up into pop and celebrity culture and thus in popularity over the past few years. I am, of course, talking about the teacup pig. The tea cup pig has been specifically bred to remain at almost infant size for the rest of its life, weighs only 30 to 40 pounds, and is a perfect pet if you are looking for something cute and cuddly but also something a bit more unique.

They are said to have the intelligence as high as any dog, and can be trained to do tricks such as sit, stay, roll over, and either house or litter training. Keeping a teacup pig in your apartment is relatively easy; they are not destructive, they don’t need to be walked, but it is important to still play with it and keep it active, for as with regular sized pigs, teacup pigs have the tendency to spend a lot of time laying down, and this could cause them to become fat.

They will eat anything they get a hold of that even remotely looks like food, so be careful with what you leave laying around the apartment, and try not to feed them your leftovers. They only need one serving of fresh vegetables and a maximum of two pieces of fresh fruit a day or they will get fat, and this will cause an onset of health problems.

So whatever your living situation, your time constraints or you budget, living in an apartment does not limit you to a goldfish in a bowl; there are a whole range of cuddly to not so cuddly pets that can make your new house feel like home.