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It may be raining cats and dogs across most of Australia – they’re members of 29.2 per cent and 38.5 per cent of Australian families respectively – but there are a tonne of other pets you might never have considered introducing into your family… until now!

Chickens

Speak to any chicken owner and they will tell you just how ridiculously ‘pet-like’ a chicken can be. They follow you around in the yard, love a cuddle and – bonus – they reward you with the best eggs you’ll eat (#winning). Chickens come in a many different colours and breeds but silkies are popular among families with young children as they are super placid and super fluffy/cuddly. Commercial layers will give you one egg every day without fail, whereas silkies might give you 4-5 eggs per week. All they need is chicken food (kitchen scraps make great treats), water and a safe place to roost at night away from predators.

Reptiles

We know what you’re thinking… snakes?! Really?! Yes, really! Turns out, snakes actually make pretty cool pets – they’re quiet, clean and make great companions. While it’s true that most varieties aren’t dangerous, you should definitely do your research before you commit to snake ownership – especially when you realise that some can live for up to 30 years! If you’re keen on a reptile but getting a snake doesn’t really appeal, consider a lizard. They’re low maintenance, sociable and can be trained. From skinks to dragons to geckos, there are so many different varieties. Note: There are licences required to keep these kinds of pets (available online). Make sure you speak to an expert.

Miniature horses

Getting a miniature horse might sound crazy, but they’re a lot easier to keep and care for than you’d think. Madeleine, the owner of miniature horses Peanut and Nugget, says they’re surprisingly intelligent. “The ponies were a purchase resulting from a bit of a mid-life crisis – dad got two motorbikes, so mum got two miniature ponies,” Madeleine says. “They are such characters, and they love attention and a good cuddle. They’ve even learnt how to open doors to get into the house.”

Rats

Rats, like snakes, probably fall into the category of ‘pets I neither need nor want’ but, also like snakes, they actually make pretty cool pets. They’re extremely intelligent and very social, so they’re ideal for kids who want a pet that they can handle easily – some people even go so far as to say that a rat’s companionship is a lot like a dog’s! They don’t take up much space, but their cages do need to be kept clean and tidy (spot cleaning once a day, and a big clean once a week) and it’s good to let them roam outside of their cages at least once a day. Rats also thrive in pairs or groups, so it could be a good idea to buy two – just make sure they’re both the same sex, as rats can breed just as quickly as rabbits.

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haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.