4 low-maintenance pets for smaller homes

Sometimes a home just isn’t a home without the pitter-patter of feet, or claws for that matter. Perhaps you want to train an animal to remind people to wipe their feet before coming in? That’s where a cockatoo is all-too-valuable. Or maybe the kids have repeated “Can we get a pet, please?” for the 1346th time today but you don’t think they are ready for a dog or cat just yet. Think about looking at these less ‘hands on’ alternatives. Be warned that often ‘less maintenance’ equals less ‘traditional’ pets.

  1. Cockatoo

This choice is all about the possibilities. Dress up as a pirate in your spare time and take your cockatoo for a walk on your shoulder around the neighbourhood. Train it to squawk sweet nothings into your partner’s ear. There is also the opposite alternative, but birds probably shouldn’t be trained to say things that could get you in trouble if you have the boss over for dinner.


Cockatoos can be an expensive option as a pet. Lifespans vary (cockatiels have lifespans similar to dogs, while white cockatoos can live up to 60 years. In terms of value for money, you definitely get more than a pet goldfish. This can be a serious life-time partner. Expect costs similar to dogs, where breed quality and type dictates whether you spend a few hundred dollars or a few thousand.


You have a choice between a cage for one bird (always inside) or an aviary for one or more birds. Cockatoos are social animals so like to spend plenty of time with the family. Eventually you can train your bird to spend more time out of the cage and with the family, using the cage as a place to sleep, feed and of course, poop.

  1. Snails

You got it, folks. This has to be one of the easiest pets to maintain and as such, one of the least interesting pets to keep. You can’t train them to do anything, petting them is…well, some people might like it, but the good news is that they have lifespans similar, if not longer, than dogs. The best part of keeping snails is to teach kids to take care of an animal and to create new enclosures for them as a weekly or monthly project.


Free! Head out to the garden and see what you find. Although you can buy some cleaner snails from larger pet stores.


Snails can be kept in clear containers that have plenty of ventilation. Be sure to maintain the cleanliness of the container and to keep it moist with a water spray. Feed raw vegetables and fruits to the snail, as well as egg shells for a source of calcium (to keep their shell nice and strong). Use chemical-free soil as a base for the snail’s home and give them objects to climb and hide under.

  1. Snake

Probably don’t go looking outside for a pet snake. It won’t end well. Pythons are the most common pet snake, probably because of their lack of secreting a dead-in-two-minutes poison through their teeth. The benefits of keeping a snake in captivity? Forgetting the obvious risks of doing anything to constrain or annoy a snake, perhaps to some people their beauty may be an objective drawcard. There’s no denying snakes are beautiful creatures, but still…a snake? In terms of excitement factor, just take the lid off its enclosure and see the household go into a panic when its noticed the snake terrarium is empty.


Beyond the upfront cost of buying the snake, there are also the costs of setting up a suitable habitat/enclosure for the snake as well as procuring a licence for keeping a snake. Then there is the need to buy or breed mice on a weekly basis to feed the snake. All-in-all it isn’t going to break the bank but if you are wanting to hug your pet…this might not be for you.


These cuddly friends need terrarium tank with some form of hiding spot to call home. The setup should contain branches, rocks and sand or gravel to replicate the natural habitat as closely as possible. Some snakes will require a ultraviolet light to keep them warm or if the terrarium gets a lot of exposure to nature sunlight, this may be enough.

  1. Axolotl

These guys definitely have a cute side to them. In a weird way. They have a smile and a face that is reminiscent of a manga cartoon so they can be a great choice as a low-maintenance pet. Beyond that adorable smile, they are one of the weirder creatures to inhabit this small, blue planet.


Cheap as chips. Expect a set-up cost of under $100.


An aquarium similar to that of a fish. Dress it up as you like as long as basic requirements of space and water filtration are met.