Top ten low maintenance pets for children or adults

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Not everyone has the time, money or space for a dog or large pet, yet the benefits of owning animals are too good to ignore. For those people, low maintenance pets could be the answer. If you’re one of these people and are looking for low maintenance pets for children or adults, these are ideal.

1. Hamster, gerbil or mice

These small rodents are great fun, offer some feedback and respond to their owners. They are also relatively easy to look after. They just need food and water daily, a good sized cage with somewhere safe to sleep and a form of exercise in a wheel or some toys.
Sociable and fun to interact with, hamsters, gerbils and mice are tame and have a pleasant disposition. Hamsters tend to sleep and rest during the day which makes them the ideal pet if you and your child are out during the day, while they typically wake around dusk which makes it the best time to interact with them. On the other hand, gerbils are not nocturnal and in contrast, they have several sleep and active cycles throughout the day. They are very curious and enjoy exploring their surroundings which makes them very entertaining to watch.    

Make sure you provide a comfortable, dry and clean cage and plenty of bedding and nesting material. Also remember that due to their size, they can be easily injured if squeezed or dropped, so handle with caution. 

Lifespan: around two years, so they are a good introduction to the concept of life and death if you have young children.


2. Small birds

Some smaller birds don’t need any human interaction to remain happy and healthy. They just need a cage with room to fly a little, some food, water and somewhere to sharpen their beak. Finches and canaries are content just to be left alone while cockatiels or parakeets needtime out of the cage to fly and socialise.

In fact, contrary to popular belief, birds are social creatures and can easily bond with their humans just like cats and dogs, so it will be fun to train and interact with your little feathered friend if you have the time for it. Small birds are also very clever with the ability to understand and learn things.

All you need to do for your bird is perhaps provide a swing, but avoid overstocking the cage or your pet will not have enough room to fly around. Wondering what to feed it? Small birds do not require expensive food, however, do ensure that you provide the right kind. A good quality bird mix that contains all the necessary nutrients can be found in any pet shop across Malta and Gozo.

Lifespan: depending on the breed, approximately 10 years.


3. Guinea pigs

Guinea pigs are a firm favourite of smaller children as they are quite tactile and make a noise. They are social animals who appreciate human contact but are still low maintenance pets. They just need a cage, some straw and to be fed and watered daily.

Guinea pigs appreciate human contact so much so that they tend to squeak in excitement when they see you, while they are also known for popcorning, whereby they jump up and kick their heels in the air whenever they feel happy.

Ensure that you provide sufficient straw and hay because when they are not napping, these small animals like to constantly graze which helps them file their teeth since they tend to grow continuously. You may also want to consider giving your guinea pig some leafy greens like kale and broccoli.

Lifespan: typically between 5 to 6 years.


4. Rabbits

Many, but not all, rabbit species are fairly low maintenance. Give them a hutch, some fresh vegetables to chew on, space to run around and they are happy. Human contact is optional but why wouldn’t you want to interact with such cute creatures? Just be aware that they can live longer than you might think.

The optimal starter pet for families, you may want to opt for the dwarf hotot, the harlequin, the havana or the mini rex which are all considered low maintenance. Rabbits can live both indoors and outdoors, however, if you decide to keep yours indoors you must take certain precautions such as covering and hiding any cables to prevent them from being chewed and removing any poisonous plants that you may have around your home.

Hay or grass is crucial to their diet, but you can also give them a daily variety of fresh vegetables and fruit.

Lifespan: around 8 to 12 years, so this is a pet for the long haul.


5. Cats

Most species of domestic cat are low maintenance because they mainly look after themselves. As long as they have somewhere warm to sleep, food, water and somewhere to scratch they are generally happy. If there is someone around to play with them or provide a warm lap to curl up on, all the better!

Unlike dogs that typically require your constant attention, love and care, cats are very independent. Whether you prefer having yours confined indoors or you don’t mind it roaming about outdoors, you need to ensure that your cat is fully vaccinated and microchipped. What’s more, they do not take up too much space, so they are perfect for those who live in small apartments or houses.

Have you found a cute cat and you’re ready to give it a forever home? Here are 6 tips for welcoming a new kitten into your home.

Lifespan: expect your cat to live around 10-18 years. 


6. Goldfish

Goldfish are a very low maintenance pet and certainly lower maintenance than most other fish. Keep their water clean, change it regularly, keep them fed and sit them in a nice place and they are happy.

This type of fish is also one of the most popular and inexpensive types that can be purchased from any local pet store. A fishbowl is all it needs to begin its life at your house but as the goldfish grows it may need to be placed into a proper tank. The common goldfish can grow up to ten inches so it will need an aquarium of about ten feet with around 30 gallons of water to sufficiently support its growth.

Wondering what to feed it? Some good quality goldfish flakes should suffice, however, be careful that you do not overfeed it since doing so can have adverse effects.

Lifespan: with the appropriate care and ideal environment, goldfish can live up to a decade.


7. Insects

While not the most interactive pet around, insects can be quite low maintenance depending on which you choose. Stick insects, praying mantis, hissing cockroaches and crickets need nothing more than a warm tank, some foliage and regular feeding. Spiders need more looking after but can be equally interesting to keep.

But there are more benefits to having insects as your pets. If you’re a parent, introducing your children to these invertebrates means that they will grow up to appreciate any animal, be it a fluffy cat or a large cockroach, while they will not fear various insects and spiders as they move into adulthood.

Named for their stick-like appearance, stick insects are interesting to have as a pet. They are known for camouflaging themselves and can grow up to 1 foot in length. Would you rather have something more exotic? Chances are you may have never considered keeping a cockroach as a pet, but the hissing variety is different from your typical cockroach that usually appears during the hot summer months. This species of good-nature cockroaches are docile and easy to handle.

Did you think that fresh leaves, vegetables and fruit are the only suitable staple? The praying mantis is a carnivore and its diet should reflect that, yet, irrespective of which species you decide to adopt, it’s best to check with a vet beforehand to confirm your pet’s dietary needs.

Lifespan: each insect has its own life expectancy. For instance, stick insects can live up to 16 months, praying mantises an average of 6 months, while hissing cockroaches can live up to 5 years.

8. Sea Monkeys

Sea Monkeys are small aquatic creatures that live in salt water. They are extremely low maintenance, needlittle cleaning and are fun to watch. Keep them fed with either special food or approved human food and you’re good.

In essence, they are an artificial hybrid version of the brine shrimp, a crustacean. What’s fascinating about them is that they undergo cryptobiosis, in other words, they enter into a state of suspended animation, whereby most vital functions cease to work but there is no death. Think of it like a dormant seed or a hibernating animal. This allows them to survive until the ideal conditions appear. Wondering how they got their moniker? The name is based on their saltwater habitat and the shape of their tails which is supposed to resemble that of monkeys.

Lifespan: expect your sea monkey to live for around 2 years.

9. Snakes

Some snakes make very good pets. They don’t need feeding often and just need a warm tank with some foliage and a rock or three. As long as you don’t mind feeding it live or frozen mice or rats, snakes make very low maintenance pets. Some species are also happy to be handled.

Some snakes make very good pets. They don’t need feeding often and just need a warm tank with some foliage and a rock or three. As long as you don’t mind feeding it live or frozen mice or rats, snakes make very low maintenance pets. Some species are also happy to be handled.

The right environment is crucial for them, so perhaps it’s best to place a thermometer and a humidity gauge in its terrarium.

Lifespan: some species can live up to 20 years, so ensure you’re ready for the commitment.


10. Reptiles

Some reptiles are low maintenance while others most certainly are not. Scorpions, bearded dragons, geckos and terrapins can all make good pets. Give them warmth, somewhere safe to sleep and keep their tank clean and they can make great pets!

For example, lizards are unique animals but not all are easy to handle. If you’re new to the reptile world, you should perhaps consider opting for a leopard gecko since they do not need much attention and unlike other types, they do not require UVB lighting because they are nocturnal. Slow-moving and docile, these small lizards are easy to tame.

Likewise, scorpions, bearded dragons and geckos simply need warmth, a tank and live prey such as insects to feed on.

Lifespan: a leopard gecko’s life expectancy is that of approximately 20 years, whereas that of a bearded dragon is between 6 and 10 years.


While these creature types can make low maintenance pets, it is important to do your research first and ask a Pet Shop for advice. Not all species within each of these types make good companions. Be sure to know what you’re buying before you get it home!

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