Which pet would make your ideal housemate?

A fish is the ultimate low-maintenance pet

A fish is the ultimate low-maintenance pet - Credit: Getty Images/Ingram Publishing

Home is where the heart is and families come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you are an individual looking for an animal companion or a growing family wanting to find a suitable pet for your lifestyle, choosing one which is an appropriate fit for your home is important.

Hamsters are considered an ideal first pet

Hamsters are considered an ideal first pet - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Chameleons are time-consuming and require specialist care and environments but if you want a hobby too, a chameleon is a brilliant choice. Their exotic looks, colourful genius and Disney-style cuteness make chameleons impressive and a real point of conversation. Any home would work but those thinking of investing in this quirky pet should read up because they require commitment.

Keeping chickens is a lifestyle choice and a pastime and suits a family with a green ethos and big enough garden. There are some amazing chicken homes available for a price – but be prepared to devote a decent amount of your garden to them, as well as your cash. Your feathered friends will hopefully reward you with beautiful fresh eggs. Chicken owners often report funny intelligent characters, which are amusing and novel – a lovely pet for the right family.

Rabbits, though commonly given to little ones as pets, are actually better with teenagers, as they require daily grooming, handling and exercise. Gone are the days where a rabbit is kept in a tiny hutch in a fume-filled garage or at the bottom of the garden as potential wild fox fodder. Now most rabbit-lovers treat theirs to enormous two-tier havens with areas for running about and access to fresh grass, as well as an indoor den for sleeping and quiet time. These can take up five square foot of space or more and a sizable garden is necessary.

Hamsters make a wonderful first pet for a child of primary school age. There are many attractive cages, toys and treats to make the sweet rodent exciting to a young child, who can easily see them and handle them over time, as the pet becomes tame. It is not advisable to keep the cage in a bedroom belonging to a youngster however, as hamsters are mostly nocturnal and make considerable noise at night –

A pet chameleon requires a lot of commitment

A pet chameleon requires a lot of commitment - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

especially as they ideally need a wheel to clatter round in.

Fish fit in anywhere but nowhere better than a swanky singleton apartment or for a style conscious working city couple who are not at home much but would like a low-maintenance pet in a trendy tank. The BiOrb comes in several immaculate designs, turning the humble fish bowl into an image savvy focal point of any room – with real live moving features that require minimum effort.

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Cats are purrfect for country cottage dwellers. A roaring real fire makes an ideal winter comfort for a cosy feline to snuggle in front of yet there is easy access to the great outdoors (and plenty of mice) via a cat flap. Indoor scratching posts add interest for when it’s raining and they don’t fancy going out.

Tree frogs are ideal in a flat or shared house, as they don’t smell or take up a lot of space and probably won’t offend any landlords. They are unlikely to affect any housemates as they don’t tend to bark!

Acquired taste: a pet tarantula isn't for everyone

Acquired taste: a pet tarantula isn't for everyone - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A small dog is fabulous for those who work from home. Even in an apartment, a lapdog can work well but dog experts warn would-be owners in flats to carefully consider it before getting a Chihuahua, as this is a breed which typically barks loudly and often. You need to be around during the day to bond with any puppy, as they loathe being left for anything other than brief periods.

A medium dog such as a Labrador needs a family with a good deal time and space. A large home with a decent garden are preferable and you would be better off as a homeowner, as many landlords don’t allow tenants to keep dogs. Even if you are renting and tempted to buy a dog with permission from your current landlord, the lifespan of a dog and the likelihood or moving to another rented property in that period could make finding a new home tricky.

Tarantulas are suitable in any type of home as they don’t take up much room, make noise or need external exercise! Again they make a stimulating talking point with visitors of all ages. But they are not for the faint hearted. Most don’t like to be handled and are usually primarily a display pet. And they need live food. You need to be able to cope with feeding crickets to your pet. Be warned – a pot full of Jimminys singing away from the kitchen cupboard tops can pull at the heart strings of even the hardest of journalists (apparently). 

Man's best friend: What's not to like about a Lab?

Man's best friend: What's not to like about a Lab? - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Bunnies make a perfect pet for teenagers

Bunnies make a perfect pet for teenagers - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

In a flap: Chickens make great pets

In a flap: Chickens make great pets - Credit: Getty Images