3 Small Animals You Can Actually Keep at College

Having a pet can be great for your mood, but they can also be a huge responsibility. Here are three easy-to-care-for pets that are great for college students.

You may have been considering a pet for a while, but as a student, you know your time is precious. You know you haven’t got the time to walk a dog for one or two hours a day. You also haven’t got the budget for their (sometimes large) appetites or health care. Plus, between back-to-back lecturers and your part-time job, when can you shoot home to let your dog out to use the bathroom?

So what other pets are an option when you’re at college? Here are three animals that are relatively easy for college students to care for.

Related: List: Colleges and Universities That Allow Pets on Campus

1. Fish

While some people think they’re incredibly boring, fish do have personalities. And while some fish can take up a lot of your time and budget, tropical or freshwater fish can be relatively low maintenance but still full of character.

You do need to commit time to maintain the cleanliness of the tank, but apart from that, you just need to remember to feed them. Different fish require different feeding schedules. If you pop over to your local pet store, they’ll be able to best advise the fish to suit your lifestyle.

Fish can also have a calming effect on anyone watching them, so they can be a great, relaxing distraction when you’re struggling with your studies or writing an essay.

2. Hamster

Not just a pet for elementary school classrooms, hamsters can be the perfect pet for college students too. You need to remember to feed them every day and clean their cage out regularly, but as long as they have water and what they need, you can leave them alone for back-to-back lectures.

Hamsters are often active at night, so that could suit you if you need some company pulling an all-nighter before your next deadline. Their exercise wheels can be rather noisy though, so just check they’re not keeping your roommates up.

Hamsters are typically low cost—your part-time job should be able to cover their bedding, food, and exercise balls. They have simple habitat needs, they don’t take up much space, and they’re easy to clean up after. They also have no special grooming requirements and don’t need excessive social interaction. 

Related: 4-Legged Counselors and Other Stress Relievers

3. Reptiles

Reptiles make great pets, and you can give them great names too! They don’t take up a lot of space, and they’re relatively easy to care for. Reptiles include pets like snakes, bearded dragons, tortoises, and geckos. The largest cost will be the tank (terrarium/vivarium) and purchasing the actual pet.

You need to understand what habitat your reptile needs, so again, speaking to someone at your local pet store will help you figure out what’s right for you.

Most reptiles are generally low on care needs; they need feeding daily along with some handling. They usually are quite independent so they can be left alone during lectures or work.

Be mindful though, some geckos can live up to 20 years, so it’s not just a commitment for your college years—this guy will be moving on with you! The same goes for snakes. Depending on the type, snakes can live up to 20–30 years! You also have to ensure you get a big-enough vivarium—some snakes can grow to impressive lengths.  

The benefits of having a pet in college

It’s clear that pets have a stress-relieving effect. Studies have shown that petting and playing with animals reduces stress-related hormones in the body. It also raises levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax the nervous system. 

Taking on a pet in college could help you stay calm when those midterms are looming. Be mindful if you’re thinking of taking on a pet though. Have you honestly got the time and budget available to meet his needs? Does your dorm allow pets, and is it okay with your roommate too? Be sure to have these conversations before you buy. 

Consider why you want to take on a pet as a student and whether you’re in it for the long haul. Volunteering at animal shelters is a great way to spend time with furry (or not furry) friends that won’t burden you with the commitment of daily care.

Looking for a school that will let Fido come too? Find one with our College Search tool!

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