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Pets In Apartments

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One of the hardest things about leaving your house in the suburbs behind to move into a flat in the big, bad city can be abandoning Fluffy and Woofels. Apartment living greatly reduces your options when it comes to looking for pets, as many otherwise great creatures suddenly seem too large, high maintainance or smelly. But, if you crave the sort of unconditional love and reliance only no-human animals can give, never fear, because, unless your apartment complex or landlord expressly forbids it, there is no reason why you can’t have a pet in an apartment. Alyx Gorman looks at some of the critters that love apartment living.

Fish

Probably the easiest option for the apartment-bound animal lover; fish are a relatively low-maintenance, low cost commitment when it comes to pets. They do, however, require a fair amount of equipment to keep them alive. Fish can range from being very cheap (around $60 for a goldfish starter kit), to extremely expensive (a serious tropical fish tank can cost into the thousands). Once you have a fish, keeping them alive is fairly easy. They require feeding, occasional water changes and some additional tune ups depending on the species. Perhaps the most attractive thing about fish is (unless you tip the tank over), they won’t make a mess or smell, but they really don’t offer much in the way of companionship. Fish can have quite long life-spans, so unless you have no qualms about flushing the whole lot when you can no longer take care of them, they aren’t the best pets for commitment-phobes. Fish, unlike other pets, can be left alone for a day or two.

A good guide to aquariums and fish can be found here: http://www.fao.com.au/

Rats and Mice

Rats and mice are a furrier alternative to fish and, as they can be taken out of their cages and played with, they offer more in the way of companionship. Mice and rats are also a very cheap pet option. A pet-shop mouse will generally cost less than ten dollars, and a rat less than twenty. Rat and mouse cages are also fairly cheap, as they don’t have to be water-tight. Rodents are however, quite hands-on pets. They need to be regularly handled if you want to keep them tame, and avoiding bad smells requires very diligent cage cleaning. Rats and mice have short life-spans, which make them a good pet choice for the less than grounded, but it does mean buying replacement furry friends every 1.5 – 3 years. If you are planning on going away for longer than one night, you will need to find someone to take care of your mice. For more information, visit the Australian Rodent Fancier’s Society of NSW: http://www.ausrfsnsw.com/

Rabbits and Guinea Pigs

Although guinea pigs may seem like an ideal apartment pet, given their small size, they really shouldn’t be kept unless you have plenty of space. Guinea pigs need large cages that can be expensive to buy and messy to maintain, which makes them better suited to a garden lifestyle. Rabbits fare better in apartment environments as they do not necessarily need a cage and can be toilet trained, like a cat. If you are planning to keep a rabbit without a hutch, it is important to remember that rabbits love to chew, so exposed electrical cords can lead to broken electronics and fried bunnies. Rabbits have been known to live for up to 20 years, so a pet rabbit is not a short term commitment. Rabbits and guinea pigs cannot be left alone for long stretches of time. For more information on house rabbits visit www.rabbit.org.au and for more information on guinea pigs visit http://www.australiancavysanctuary.com/

Cats and Small Dogs

Cats and small dogs are the most demanding sort of pets that can be kept in apartments, but they also make the most intelligent and rewarding companions. Pet cats and dogs need regular vaccinations, vet check-ups and exercise, and cannot be left alone for longer than a normal work day. Indeed, even eight hours alone a day can be psychologically stressful for a pet dog (cats fare better). Cats and small dogs are also expensive to buy. Even when adopting a pet, you still have to cover the cost of micro-chipping, de-sexing and a number of other veterinary procedures. To find out more about keeping cats and dogs as pets, visit the RSPCA website: http://www.rspca.org.au

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Reptiles

Reptiles can be a great pet for those who suffer from fur allergies. However, with their live-diet (mill-worms and snails for lizards, live or frozen mice for snakes), and slippery scales, reptiles are not for the squeamish. Reptiles are quite low-maintenance pets, as they only require feeding every two to five days, and only need tank cleans fortnightly to monthly, this means they are a good option for people who have to travel for work. As long as they are regularly handled reptiles can make perfectly safe pets, no more likely to bite than a mammal. Reptiles do require a lot more paper-work than most pets though, and generally you have to care for a lizard before being allowed a snake license. On top of this, reptiles can be expensive. Reptile terrariums, heat rocks, sun lamps and food do not come cheaply, and a specialist vet can be difficult to find. Finally, a reptile is a life-time commitment; blue tongue lizards often live well over 30 years. For more info visit: http://www.ahs.org.au/

Birds

Birds are clean, attractive low-odour pets that can happily live in apartments. They are relatively low maintenance, although most birds require regular wing-trims, and can be kept in easy-to-clean cages. Birds are generally noisy though – so they aren’t good for late sleepers or the easily annoyed. Well trained birds make very friendly companions, but they can become overly attached to, and even fall in love with, their owners. Birds can vary dramatically in cost depending on the species and cage, with the initial out-lay for a budgerigar starting at around $100. The life expectancy of a bird depends entirely on its species, although you can be fairly certain your bird will live longer than five years. For more information on pet birds visit: http://www.avianweb.com/

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The nearest pet supply shops to Pyrmont is Pets on Broadway located in the Broadway shopping centre: http://www.petsonbroadway.com.au/ The closest veterinary hospital to Pyrmont is the Glebe Veterinary Hospital (02) 9660 1771.

Pyrmont Village suggests adopting a pet, or purchasing one from a registered breeder, rather than buying a pet from a pet shop. To find out why visit: http://www.saynotoanimalsinpetshops.com/


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