Think outside the litter box and get the scoop on these uncommon companions.By Woman's Day Staff
Sure, dogs and cats are adorable, but if your family yearns for a different kind of critter, they're in luck. The four that follow are just as loveable as their more common counterparts and surprisingly low-maintenance to boot. Read on to see your other pet possibilities and learn what it takes to care for them. Photo by Shutterstock.
Cost to adopt or buy: $129-$169
Setup cost: $300
Annual cost: $500
Lifespan: Up to 10 years
These incredibly soft rodents are nocturnal and have a lot of energy, so a large multitiered habitat (placed out of direct sunlight) is ideal. Chinchillas should not be exposed to temperatures over 80°F. They rarely need baths, yet have little to no odor. You can train them to do simple tricks, like giving you a quick kiss in exchange for a treat.
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Cost to buy: $30
Setup cost: $100-$150
Annual cost: $260
Lifespan: 10+ years
These reptiles make great beginner pets and are distinctive among geckos-they have eyelids (most geckos don't) and small claws rather than sticky feet. Instead of the pricey UVB lighting required for many reptiles' habitats, leopard geckos only need a small heating pad ($14; LllReptile.com). Never pick one up by the tail, as it can fall off and grow back differently.
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Cost to adopt or buy: $350-$500
Setup cost: $0-$100
Annual cost: $400
Lifespan: 16-20 years
Potbelly pigs (which can grow to 200 pounds!) are smart: Some can learn to open a fridge, shut off an alarm clock or even dial a phone. Pigs need lots of space but should avoid stairs, which they have trouble climbing. Check local zoning laws before keeping one and control their portions because, well, they can be pigs!
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Cost to adopt or buy: Varies widely, from free to $100
Setup cost: $250
Annual cost: $500
Lifespan: 10 years
Rabbits are intelligent, calm and friendly pets that need daily interaction with you-and can even be taught to hop along on a leash! While many rabbit breeds are small in size (weighing only a pound or two), others can grow to be as large as 10 to 14 pounds. Keep in mind that spayed or neutered rabbits tend to be healthier and more sociable, and live longer.
SOURCES: Jenny Blaney, consultant, North American Potbellied Pig Association (NAPPA). Dawn Burch, veterinary relations manager, Petco. Pam Munici, president, NAPPA
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