4 Low-Maintenance Pets
Somewhere between a puppy and a pet rock lies (or swims) the best low-maintenance pet for you. Real Simple polled vets and pet-store owners to discover the least demanding species across four creature categories. (Note: Ponies need not apply.)
Why They’re Easy…
When your young pirate begs for a parrot, compromise with a budgie (short for budgerigar), a type of parakeet. If these smaller, shorter-lived birds get used to people when they’re young, they offer much of the same appeal as their more demanding cousins, without the daunting commitment. (“Large parrots are like having a toddler in your home for 35 to 80 years,” says Robertson.) Budgies will perch on your finger and mimic words (a skill that’s generally stronger in males). And though they’re prodigious poopers, their waste dries quickly and doesn’t smell much, so you can get away with aweekly cage-cleaning routine.
…OK, Not That Easy
If you have only one bird, humans will become his flock by default, so someone will need to hang out with him for an hour or more daily. Or you can bring in a second budgie, but this will make both birds less motivated to bond with you.
Life span: 5 to 15 years.
Start-up costs: Budgies begin at about $20, and a good-size birdcage and basic supplies will add up to around $60.