They eat: Hay, parsley, spinach, kale. Special rabbit pellets, with apples and carrots in small quantities as treats.
Pros: Quiet, clean, can be potty trained, good companions.
Cons: Are not a lap pet and do not like to be picked up and cuddled unless properly socialized (though owners can get on the floor and cuddle them). They chew a lot, so house should be rabbit-proofed. May bite.
Activity level: 2
Parental involvement needed: 2-3
Good for ages: 8 and up (with supervision)
Kid's daily commitment: Keep a constant supply of food and water. Clean cage and change bedding weekly, or more as needed. No grooming necessary. Play with pet daily if you want to have a relationship.
Initial cost: $35 for the guinea pig alone; $200 for other start-up costs (cage)
Yearly upkeep cost: $635
They eat: Special guinea pig food, timothy hay, fresh veggies, fruit, plus a regular supplement of Vitamin C.
Life expectancy: 5 to 7 years
Pros: Tame, responsive, make cute noises, can go outside on a harness and leash. Easier to care for than rabbits or chinchillas.
Cons: Need more housekeeping than some other pets. Generally less interactive than rabbits and rats.
(Recommended for kids: corn snake, king snake, ball python)
Activity level: 1-2, depending on snake.
Parental involvement needed: 3
Good for ages: 12 and up
Kid's daily commitment: Depending on type of snake, twice a week, once a week or twice every two weeks. Replace water daily. Clean feces daily and wash tank once a week. Observe daily to make sure it's safe and healthy.
Initial cost: $50+ for the snake itself; $100-$200 for other start-up costs (tank, heating source)
Yearly upkeep cost: $250-$450 (food, annual vet visit)
They eat: Live or dead mice (or for big snakes, rats, guinea pigs, chickens and rabbits).
Life expectancy: 15 to 30 years
Pros: Clean, quiet, take up little room.
Cons: Can carry Salmonella. Not interactive. Should not be handled a lot.