We’re all probably feeling a little bit lonely right now.
If social-distancing is starving you for company, a tiny new friend may be exactly what you and your family need.
With the amount of work it takes to keep them happy and healthy, now may not be the ideal time for a new cat or dog. Don’t worry though, here are five quirky, low-maintenance animals you could adopt while self-isolating.
Kicking off the list is a homegrown hero. Bearded dragons (or ‘beardies’) are a reptile native to Australia named after their ‘beard’ of spikes which puff up according to their mood. Known as one of the chillest pets around, bearded dragons will be more than happy to sit on your lap and bliss out while you down your next G&T and wait for the lockdown to be over.
Caring: To house a fully grown beardie, you’ll need a glass terrarium with a screened top that can hold at least 40 gallons (That’s about 100cm long). You’ll also need a UV light to keep it nice and toasty. While beardies are happy to munch on insects or your left over fruits and vegetables, the best food for them is a special reptile mix you should be able to find at your local pet-goods store.
Fun fact: Bearded dragons will fight over the best spot to sunbathe, kind of like kids fighting over who gets the front seat of the car.
While ferrets may look like big rodents, their personalities are a lot more like that of a cat or dog. Like dogs, they’re cuddly, playful, love to go for walks, and get the zoomies when they’re happy. Like cats, they’re curious, inquisitive, and take some risky jumps.
Caring: Due to their short lifespan of 5-10 years, ferrets will require health checks at the vet. When ferrets aren’t roaming the house (under supervision), they should be kept to confined to a secure area so they don’t get themselves into a sticky situation. A pet-cage is a good option for their sleeping area as long as it’s spacey enough for them to walk around in. You can even put a litter-tray in there since ferrets are easily toilet trained. As for their diet, make sure they have 24/7 access to high-quality kitten food (meat, not kibble), as their high metabolisms require them to be eating constantly.
Fun fact: A group of ferrets is called a business, which means they’re the perfect colleague to help you work from home.
Pink and Grey Galahs
Is isolation depriving you of riveting conversation? Well, a pink & grey galah might be just what you need! These native birds can be quite talkative, so you can teach them to say g’day in the mornings or cheer for your favourite Bachelor contestant. They’re also fairly sociable with humans and happy to sit on your shoulder while you Netflix and chill your way through an isolation-vacation. But beware, pink & grey galahs can live for up to 80 years, so chose your bird carefully and make sure your will is updated.
Caring: A galah’s diet mainly consists pellets and seeds but you’ll also have to supplement in some fruits, vegetables, vitamins and minerals. For housing, a thick wire cage with dimensions of at least 40”(W) x 30”(D) x 65”(H) will give your bird the space it needs to spread its wings. You’ll also need to cover their cage with a sheet every night, and buy some foraging toys so they can exercise their body and mind.
Fun fact: These lovebirds mate for life!
If being locked down with your kids is driving you mad, a couple of pet frogs might just be the cure you’re looking for. They’re great for teaching kids how to be gentle with and take care of an animal, and they can be quite active if you pick a smaller species. A big bonus is that frogs only need to be fed 2-3 times a week, so you can dip out of town for a few days without a worry. They also make for a colourful and interesting addition to the house – sure to impress at your post-quarantine gatherings.
Caring: With approximately 5000 different species of frogs existing around the world, you’ll have to alter your caring strategy depending on which one you get. Make sure to research which species are legal in your area and what you’ll need to do to keep them happy and healthy. Since frogs have quite sensitive skin, it’s important you handle them rarely, and only after thoroughly washing your hands.
Fun fact: The western green tree frog (which is legal to keep as a pet in WA) is known as the ‘motorbike frog’ because of this sound.
Commonly known as the Mexican walking fish, axolotl are easily the most adorable little aliens you can keep as a pet. Forget Netflix, staring at one of these happy faces is sure to make the time in isolation fly by. They’re also a great pet if you’re looking for something low maintanence, since the only care they need is aquarium maintenance and food 2-3 times a week.
Caring: Unlike most amphibians, axolotl spend their whole lives underwater, so there’s no need to provide them with anything but a well-equipped 20 gallon aquarium. They eat a variety of pet foods, so it’ll be easy to find something appropriate at a local pet-goods store. Take good care of your axolotl and it should live up to 15 years.
Fun fact: Ancient Aztec’s revered axolotl for their mythical connection to Xolotl, the god of fire, lightning, and death. What do you think? Does that look like the face of an ancient god of death and destruction?