"Ooh, that kitty makes your house look pretty!"
March 1, 2009 5:47 PM   Subscribe

Help us pick a cute but low maintenance pet! Our house looks dull and lifeless!

Our household is looking for a pet that goes well with our house. The house looks dead and lifeless. The walls are white, the carpet is gray, and the furniture is black and beige. We are looking for a pet that will "brighten" up our house. Dogs are out. The are big, smelly, and have fleas. Plus they are expensive. They aren't that colorful either. We are not cat people.

That leaves us with birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and smaller mammals such as bunnies.

I need some recommendations for cheap, low maintenance, and COLORFUL types of the above animals.
posted by sixcolors to Grab Bag (17 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: sixcolors - you need to ask questions in AskMe that do not all devolve into terrific trainwrecks. This question is not a good example of "how can I ask a question of the MeFi community that is not going to go badly from the get go" Please try again next week if this is very important to you or run your question by one of the mods first. -- jessamyn

If you're going for animals as set decoration, maybe some fish? Very colorful and you only have to clean out the aquarium and feed them.

And I know this isn't answering your questions, but why not hang up a curtain or posters instead, if all you're looking to do is brighten up your place? Plants are also good for that.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:52 PM on March 1, 2009

Best answer: When thinking of fish, you don't get much more colourful than neon tetra. My dad used to keep these along with zebra fish and Siamese Fighting Fish.
posted by fearnothing at 5:52 PM on March 1, 2009

I work in a pet store, and I can say that without a doubt, wanting an animal to "color up" your house won't end well. Even the easiest to care for animal, a betta fish, requires weekly water changes (or potentially more, depending on the size of the container it's kept in).

Honestly, if you want something bright, colorful, cute, and alive, join a fresh flower of the month club. Until you do research to determine what animal fits in the best with your lifestyle rather than the color of your walls, you should hold off. Pets aren't meant to be impulse buys or decorating tools.
posted by d13t_p3ps1 at 5:53 PM on March 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

Animals are not decorations. They don't "go with your house." It sounds like you don't actually have any interest in the animals at all, and most pets are actually pretty high-maintenence and have emotional needs as well as practical ones like food. Most of them smell or will inconvenience you in some other way.

Get some plants if you feel like your house needs life (rather than, say, bright curtains and art). If you end up neglecting them, no one will think you're a terrible person.
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:53 PM on March 1, 2009 [3 favorites]

At least don't get a bird. Keeping birds is simple cruelty.

"Congratulations! You can fly. Your reward is to spend your life in a 3 cubic foot cage for your entire life."
posted by rr at 5:57 PM on March 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

sorry, my second link freaked out. Here it is
posted by fearnothing at 5:57 PM on March 1, 2009

I really don't think these are the best circumstances for pet-getting.

Please don't get a bird; a bird will likely outlive you and requires a lot of attention. (I work at a zoo and we have more than one parrot who ended up homeless because it outlived its owners; plus they destroy things.) Parrots are exceptionally intelligent and sensitive and can get fucked up very, VERY easily by inadequate care.

Reptiles can also live a very long time, especially turtles and tortoises. It can be time-consuming to suss out whether you're acquiring one from a responsible source, too--may wild populations are rapidly dwindling because of demand from the pet trade. And their diets can be complicated and/or expensive and/or gross.

The fact is most pets require a lot of time and effort if you want to "do it right." They are living creatures and deserve the opportunity to thrive, rather than just sitting in the corner making things pretty. Even fish, who aren't individually demanding, require ridiculous amounts of maintenance to stay healthy. (...and they can live a long time, too, if you do things right.)

And honestly if "cheap" is one of your criteria I think you'd be better off thinking long and hard about whether you really want a pet--or some nice funky wall-art. Seriously, why not invest in some really really awesome furnishings? You don't have to spend much money at all to acquire cool things to hang on the wall/drape over furniture/lay on the floor/etc. And groovy posters never have to be fed or taken to the vet or cleaned up after.

Please just don't go out and get an animal to improve the aesthetics of your home. This will almost certainly backfire and then there's One More creature out there in need of an appropriate living situation...

Hey, one thought--what about bugs? Madagascar hissing cockroaches are extremely cool-looking (though not bright neon colors or anything.)
posted by Neofelis at 5:58 PM on March 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ugh, I'm not up for cleaning out fishy water. I found the fish linked from fearnothing's post cute though.

I have another question, is safe for to dye animals' fur? I know bunnies don't come in bright colors, but I wonder if we can dye them?
posted by sixcolors at 6:02 PM on March 1, 2009

I would suggest a betta fish in or a hermit crab. They both still require upkeep and familiarity with their needs, though. For example, you'll need to be familiar with the nitrogen cycle to keep fish successfully. A hermit crab has specific humidity and diet requirements.

Honestly, I would suggest setting up a little terrarium with some African violets or orchids - colorful and a lot more forgiving that a living animal. There are some beautiful terrariums available on etsy, or you can easily make your own.
posted by Ostara at 6:02 PM on March 1, 2009

Betta fish. Mine (passed away last year) was a trusty and loyal fish for the four years I had him. Pretty low maintenance, just feed and change the water. Whether you talk to it is optional.
posted by midatlanticwanderer at 6:02 PM on March 1, 2009

I think you'd be better off buying colorful art or flowers. Even if you found a colorful pet, you would have to move it from room to room.

IMO, pets are members of the family, not accessories. They brighten my life, not my house.
posted by Linnee at 6:05 PM on March 1, 2009

Moss, lichens and fungi would be good starter projects to make sure you can make the necessary commitment to having something living in your place. They're lovely, colorful, not too tough to maintain and really interesting conversation pieces without being sentient which is an important part of pet ownership versus plant ownership.
posted by jessamyn at 6:06 PM on March 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

N-thing plants. If you have the right sort of light, you could do cacti or other succulents if you want some seriously low-maintenance interest. I have also heard that orchids are actually not quite as fussy as people think (though I've never kept them myself). If you pick the right collection of plants, you'll get cleaner air inside to boot.
posted by jquinby at 6:10 PM on March 1, 2009

Have you looked into some tastefully done taxidermy? If your main requirement is something that makes a good accessory, this seems like it would be the ideal solution. Plus, you can dress up your special stuffed jackalope head for all of the different holidays. Mardi Gras beads during Feb., a jaunty green hat in celebration of St. Patrick's Day, twinkling lights for Christmas. And a stuffed jacakalope won't bite the shit out of your fingers when you try to dye it.
posted by Ostara at 6:10 PM on March 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

I very much enjoyed my "Bettas" when I had fish, but I also really enjoyed my plecostomus (helps clean the tank!), both were super easy to maintain and did not require much space at all.

I also loved growing a store bought bonsai tree for a while, and loved trying raise my own from seeds. For less money than setting up an attractive aquarium, and way less effort you could bring in several well established bonsai trees.

Jessamyn has a fun idea with the moss/algea/lichens I haven't grown them, but I know there's a ton of each species/symbiotes that thrive on rough conditions.

You could also raise wheat grass and bean sprout type stuff, though those require constant attention, added bonus = food.

In my opinion, if you're willing to deal with rabbits, you're willing to deal with almost anything,
posted by Science! at 6:13 PM on March 1, 2009

I have another question, is safe for to dye animals' fur? I know bunnies don't come in bright colors, but I wonder if we can dye them?

Bunnies are intelligent animals, and they're going to need attention and care - much more than you seem willing to invest. They'll get sad, or get sick, and you'll have to take care of them. They'll chew your things like little demon-beasts. They'll probably smell if you keep them in a cage.

I've had bunnies as pets. I really hope you don't.
posted by you're a kitty! at 6:14 PM on March 1, 2009

Do not, under any circumstances, get a bird. As someone who has two birds and has to put constant, daily effort into them, please, please, PLEASE do not get one as a decoration. They need to be let of the cage to exercise every day and they have to be supervised during it, they need attention and stimulation, they need a proper diet (seeds are NOT a proper diet and a seed-only diet leads to cancer), cleaning up after them is as much as a chore as any other animal, they can ruin your furniture as much as any other animal, and they generate varying degrees of noise depending on the kind of bird. We have to buy ours new toys weekly. This is $50-$100/month. Their food is $40/month.

You have to make sure you have access to an avian veterinarian, not just any veterinarian. This can be pricey. Birds do not show signs that they are sick until they are VERY sick, so one can die suddenly on you and require very expensive vet care before they do. A number of household items and food are poisonous to them, and you have to put research into those things. If you have anything non-stick/teflon coated in your house, the fumes can kill them within minutes. Are you certain that your lamps, or the interior of your oven, or your hairdryer, or the interior of your vacuum, or other heatable appliances don't have components that have teflon on them? You would be surprised some of the weird things that do.

Did you know that birds can die from the fumes of several common cleaning products?

If you smoke, do not get a bird. They have sensitive lungs (needed for flying). If you do and get one anyway, you'll have to be careful not to smoke in your own home.

When you go to travel, you're going to have hell finding anyone to look after a bird. If you take them with you when you travel, you have to worry about the cleaning fumes, or someone's hair drier burning, etc, in nearby hotel rooms. You have to worry about the noise they cause.

If you got one and treated it like a decoration, it would be exceedingly cruel.

I'd recommend an aquarium, but even that is a lot of work.

If you need to brighten up your house, do it with something inanimate.
posted by Nattie at 6:17 PM on March 1, 2009

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