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The Easiest Low-Maintenance Pets for Busy Owners
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The Easiest Low-Maintenance Pets for Busy Owners

Amelia, Critter Culture Staff
Updated Oct 15, 2020

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Everyone deserves to feel the love and joy of owning a pet, but for some, the responsibility of pet ownership may be a little daunting. Thankfully, there are many pet options out there, and many are relatively easy to look after. Whether you have a full-time job or you're looking to teach your child some responsibility, you can find a pet that suits your lifestyle.

Just remember: no matter how low-maintenance, every pet requires a commitment to love and care.

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1

Chinchillas

A chinchilla by a plant. Savushkin / Getty Images

Looking for a pet that's as cute as a kitten or a puppy without the walks, chewing, and litter or potty training? If so, then the chinchilla might be the right pet for you. These round and fluffy rodents have a similar appearance to rabbits, but they're even easier to take care of. As long as you provide them with toys and feed them an appropriate diet of timothy or orchard grass hay, they'll happily coexist with you. You don't even need to pet your chinchilla if you don't have time, as these little critters are fine with or without human attention. Their cage does need daily cleaning to scoop out any waste, and the bedding should be changed out once a week.

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2

Hamsters

A curious hamster. Paul Starosta / Getty Images

If you're strapped for space, the hamster is a perfect pet that's popular for good reason. From Syrians to Siberians, all pet hamster species are very easy to take care of — even for children. The only real effort they need is regular cage cleaning every week or two. Other than that, just feed your hamster a proper diet of pellets, hamster-friendly seeds, nuts, and produce, and provide them with clean water daily. Hamsters don't need grooming, nor do they need human attention to stay happy. They do have high exercise needs, so be sure to provide your hamster with an exercise wheel.

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3

Hedgehogs

An African pygmy hedgehog enjoying handling. Dimijana / Getty Images

One unusual yet surprisingly effortless pet is the African pygmy hedgehog. A hedgehog's diet is easy on the wallet, as they require just a tablespoon or two of high-protein kibble, such as grain-free cat food, and the occasional hedgehog-friendly snack. Despite their sharp quills, they're actually painless to hold, and many enjoy cuddling up to their owners. But, if you don't have time for much bonding, your hedgehog will also be happy alone in a heated tank with plenty of toys for enrichment.

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4

Finches

Zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) perched on branch

The finch is an easy and adorable pet bird for owners of all ages. They don't require much time or money, but they're fun to watch and make a pretty addition to any home. Like most birds, finches are highly social and need to be kept in pairs or flocks, so make sure you have a big enough cage. Luckily, they'll take care of all their own grooming as long as you provide them with a shallow bath and cuttlebone. Best of all, you only need to clean their cage every 2 t o4 weeks.

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5

Leopard geckos

A leopard gecko in its vivarium. David Northcott / Getty Images

Many reptiles have complex care requirements, but that's not true when it comes to the leopard gecko. These lizards are popular around the world for their "smiling" expression and simple maintenance. The most important things any leopard gecko needs are a heated vivarium and proper nutrition. They survive best on a diet of live crickets or mealworms, so they're not the best pet for squeamish owners. But, if you can get around the bugs, leopard geckos are easy and lovable.

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6

Snakes

A pet snake with their owner. urbazon / Getty Images

The boldest busy owners may want to consider a snake as a pet. While many people are scared of these reptiles, they actually make sweet pets that don't require much care. Bigger snakes need quite a large habitat, but once you have the vivarium set up, it only needs deep cleaning once every 1 to 2 months. Another easy thing about snakes is that they don't need live food; depending on the sub-species, you'll likely feed your snake a diet of dead mice, frogs, or fish.

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7

Betta fish

A betta fish in a tank. NatalyaAksenova / Getty Images

If aquatic animals are more your style, you can't go wrong with a betta fish. Of all the fish out there, bettas are one of the easiest to take care of. Setting up any tank requires a little work as the water needs to be treated just right to keep a fish alive. But, once your tank is ready, it won't take much effort to maintain. Buy a filter, and you'll only need to change about 20% of the tank water each week to keep things clean. One of the best things about betta fish is that they come in a huge array of beautiful colors and patterns to suit any busy owner's taste.

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8

Frogs

A frog swimming. Robert Pickett / Getty Images

Of course, fish aren't the only pet you can keep in a water tank. Land frogs aren't recommended for busy owners, but aquatic African dwarf frogs are very easy to look after. As with betta fish, the bulk of the effort comes in setting up the tank and filter. Along with changing 10% to 20% of the water every week, all you really need to do is feed them pellets or frozen bloodworms twice a day. You can also keep dwarf frogs with fish to make your tank even more fun to watch.

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9

Turtles

A turtle swimming. Kaan Sezer / Getty Images

A turtle tank generally needs more upkeep than a fish or frog tank, but they're still relatively low maintenance compared to most pets. Pet turtles need both filtered water and dry land to survive, so you'll need to take care in setting up their habitat and buying the right furnishings. Your turtles will also need a heat lamp and an underwater heater to keep everything at the right temperature. Beyond that, simply feed your turtles several times a week and clean the tank every 2 to 4 weeks.

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10

Bugs

A child with a praying mantis. Thomas Jackson / Getty Images

Last but not least, if you're looking for the lowest maintenance pet of all, you can always try becoming a bug keeper. Invertebrates generally don't need a big tank, and most of them live off a diet of plant matter. Even very young children can usually take care of pet bugs with little help. Some popular pet bugs to consider include ants, stick insects, praying mantises, and snails. Those looking for a "cooler" pet may also like tarantulas and scorpions.

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