Pricey Pets: How To Find Inexpensive Animal Friends

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Do you have any pets?  If your kids love animals, but you dread all the money you have to spend on vet bills, food even clothing – I’m right there with you!

We have a long list of costly creatures that have taken up residence at one time or another in our home. Here’s a general price breakdown on all the different pets we’ve welcomed into the family (and the budget).

Dogs: We have had three dogs since my children were born. These four-legged friends did not come cheap. Add up the cost of puppy training at the local pet store, their vet bills and new carpeting (after they decided that carpet was a much better place to got the bathroom) and they are expensive!

Cats: We have had six cats since my children were born, although we are currently down to three. One of our remaining cats is now worth $1,000 after being left outside one night and getting into a fight. He required emergency eye surgery.  

Ferrets: We had three ferrets handed down to us. They came with their own cage and toys, so that cut costs a little. We were told to let them out so they could run around.  They were cute, but really liked to eat my carpeting and then one of them decided it would be fun to jump from the second floor to the first.  Emergency vet trip = time to give them away.

Hamsters: I believe we’ve had three of them, all of whom belonged to my daughter.  Two of them were sweet and gentle; one was mean.  The first one decided it didn’t like its cage very much and got out often.  Unfortunately the last time it escaped, the dog found it.  Hamster number two “somehow got loose,” says my husband.  But I have my suspicions since it was the mean one that wouldn’t let anyone hold it.  Hamster number three was Harold.  He was the sweetest thing and lived to be 1 and 1/2 years old.  My daughter cried when we had to bury him.

Fish: These are probably some of the cheapest pets you can get, unless you spring for a large tank, filtering system and decorations.  My daughter has had goldfish live for about two years and currently there is a beta fish in her room. Of course this means that none of the cats can go in there, so I have three cats sleeping on my bed each night.  How did that happen?

Mice/Rats: One of our cats decided to bring a baby rat to our door.  I felt so sorry for it that I went to the pet store (rat in hand, thinking it was a mouse) to get milk and hand-fed it for almost 2 weeks before it died. Sure it was a cheap pet, but it took a lot of time and care.

And now, drum roll please, for the cheapest pet ever…

My son has a new pet praying mantis!  

Are you disappointed? Were you expecting a cuddly little friend?  I’m not sure where he got the idea.  He was outside washing my car, found a small one and thought this would be his new pet.  He immediately went online and researched how to care for it.  We already had a bug box (left over from years of homeschooling).  He read that it needed a sandy bottom, some water and some plants.  We had all that!  

So far, this pet has cost us ZERO!  It’s also been an educational experience for my son.  He goes out once or twice a day to catch other bugs to feed his “pet.”  He then sits and watches him/her eat it. Fun fact: it’s already shed its skin twice, leaving behind a nice former self to be removed from its cage.

And there you have it. If you’re looking for a cheap pet that can also be educational, go find yourself a praying mantis!

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