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!
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.
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.
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, 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.