Do You Have Time For Another Pet?
Animal lovers often have many pets, and there is nothing wrong with that as long as all the pets they own are taken care of appropriately. I myself have two dogs, two cats, cichlids, a fighting fish 'breeding program', a rabbit and two guinea pigs. Though the capacity for even more animals is there, I find that the investment of time required to keep all the above healthy and clean is more than enough to keep me happy.
Quite often, people become caught up in the idea of having a lot of pets without realizing that having many pets means committing yourself to an extensive cleaning regime for the life of that animal. This article is designed to give some insight into the amount of time and energy required to really keep common domestic animals.
Dogs must be walked daily, for a minimum of twenty minutes simply to keep them sane. I say this as the owner of a toy breed and the soon to be owner of a small English Staffordshire puppy. If you own a particularly active working breed, like a husky, or a retriever or some such dog, then you can safely extend that daily exercise requirement closer to an hour.
Fish, although being seen as 'easy care' pets, aren't easy care in the slightest. Weekly water changes are the bare minimum of maintenance that needs to be undertaken, and if you have several tanks of a decent size, this can also be quite a time sink (albeit a necessary one). Depending on the fish you have, more frequent changes may be necessary. Discus fish, for instance, require very frequent water changes if they are to grow to their full size.
If you decide to breed your fish, be prepared for a great deal more work. I quickly discovered that with fish fry, occasional water changes are not enough. My current batch of fry receives 50% water changes twice daily, another significant investment of time which takes up about an hour of my day, every day. In return for this however, the fry are already bigger at three weeks than some other spawns were at three months.
Rabbits and guinea pigs require frequent cleaning, how much depends very much on their environment. My guinea pigs have an outdoor run to play and forage in during the day, and a smaller cage inside to bed down in at night. The outdoor run can simply be moved, the indoor cage requires a 100% clean out every two days if it is to remain even remotely acceptably clean.
The bunny has something of a free range existence, though she does have a large outdoor cage where we put her in the evenings. Her hay is changed entirely at least once every two weeks and fresh hay is added daily. Rabbits are very picky about only eating fresh hay, unlike guinea pigs who will eat anything that isn't nailed down.
So, all in all, on any given day, even
with a relatively small number of animals, I can expect to spend
between one and a half and two hours on their care, cleaning, feeding and
walking. Animals are a joy, but as any zoo keeper knows, the bulk of
your job as an owner is in cleaning up after them.If this sounds like a rotten drag to you, keep your animal collection small, or visit other people's pets.