5 Small Pets that Aren’t Cheap to Keep According to Vet Bills

Have you ever thought about getting yourself a small pet because you thought it’d be more affordable than a dog or a cat? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. They’re tiny, so they don’t eat much. They don’t require a lot of space and their bedding has been affordable.

There may be something you’re not taking into consideration, however, and that is veterinary bills associated with small pet ownership. According to a study conducted via AskVet in the last 5 years, five of the top 10 most expensive animals to own are small, fuzzy pets most of us grew up with. Here’s the list:

Photo: Pixabay/Etouale

1. Gerbils

After surveying 1,000 pet owners regarding veterinary bills, 80 percent of gerbil owners reported forking over in excess of $500 yearly on the popular kids’ pet due to medical upkeep. This makes gerbils one of the most expensive pets in the country to own, not purchase.

Photo: Pixabay/Kapa65

2. Mice

If you love meeces to pieces, mice were a close second, with 79 percent of mouse owners acknowledging that they spent close to the same amount as gerbil owners every year to keep their pets healthy. While cheap to buy, they’re not cheap to keep when they’re sick, so buyers beware.

Photo: Pixabay/benjamingross83

3. Chinchillas

While the third on this list, Chinchillas came in at #5 on the list of priciest animals to maintain. Known as crepuscular rodents, these adorable little furballs native to the Andes are far more expensive to purchase than mice or gerbils, but you won’t shell out quite as much at the vet each year. Because they’re considered an exotic animal, their yearly checkup alone could run $100, though.

Photo: Pixabay/amayaeguizabal

4. Hedgehogs

Also insanely cute, hedgehogs came in at #7 on the list. While not legal to own in several U.S. states and cities, these prickly little creatures have gained in popularity in recent years. Unfortunately, they’re prone to an illness known as Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS) that can be expensive to sort out and may leave them needing a wheelchair to get about.

guinea pig
Photo: Pixabay/Katya36

5. Guinea Pigs

These small rodents are extremely popular children’s pets like mice, gerbils, and hamsters. Ranking as #8 on the list, keeping them healthy, should they fall ill, could get ridiculously expensive for the same reasons as the others. Pneumonia is one of the guinea pigs’ most significant diseases, and scurvy (Vitamin C deficiency) is another common issue.

Small Pet Vet Bills

So, why are rodents so expensive to treat when all of their other upkeep is generally so low? Historically prey animals, they have “genetically evolved to hide illness until they’re seriously sick,” said Dr. Cherice Roth, a veterinarian connected with the subscription-based vet service explained. Birds are the same way. Once they show signs of illness, extreme efforts are needed to cure them. “If the owner wants to save them at that point, it’s all hands on deck,” continued Roth.

Educate Yourself Before Buying

Roth attributes the hefty bills associated with small pet ownership to a lack of education among consumers. Dog and cat care is pretty straightforward, but rodents have a completely different set of requirements. If their needs aren’t met adequately, they can quickly get sick. As an example, rodents can become ill just from the fumes of the scented wood shavings used as bedding. As it turns out, cheaper materials like shredded newspaper or plain packing paper are safer bets. Proper diet is also critical.

The bottom line? Do your homework before adopting any pet. It’ll be cheaper in the long run.

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