It’s easy to have your heart melt by the sweet, angelic eyes that your child puts when he or she first asks you for a puppy. Even if it is a matter of giving in to the constant pestering, the endless amounts of begging, and relentless promises and bargaining; you know that at one point, you may give in.

As a child, I put together an elaborate PowerPoint presentation to try and convince my father on why I wanted—nay, needed—a puppy. With technology at their fingertips, kids are getting smarter and will find many ways to pitch you the idea with successful persuasion. But as there’s a lot of responsibility and cost that go into a larger pet, finding the perfect solution may be a struggle.

Although all pets need time and attention, there is such a thing as an inexpensive pet. From fish to furry critters to birds, the upfront purchase cost of the actual pet can be less than $10. Rest assured, you will now have plenty of pet ammunition to backfire once your child starts their dog campaign.

Here is a list of the cheapest pets:


Getting your child a goldfish for a pet is an ideal “starter pet,” as they require very little maintenance.  They swim around aimlessly, oblivious to the big people on the other side of the glass. Furthermore, a goldfish is the perfect pet solution if you’re child does suffer from allergies to our furry friends.

Some may say that a goldfish can survive in cold water without heating or filter. However, as goldfish do produce ammonia, they do require frequent water change if a filtering system is not present. If you wish to extend the life span of your little swimmer, a fish tank, filter, and gravel are recommended. The average cost for an aquarium starter cube is $70.

Hermit Crab

Much like the goldfish, a hermit crab is one of the least expensive pets to own.  The cost of the hermit crab can range from $5 to $35, depending on the size of the crab. Although, you will need to spend a little bit more to provide the hermit crab with a decent home.  Your new pet will be a happy crab with a plastic aquarium and gravel or sand. Hermit crabs grow in size and when they do, they abandon their shell for a larger one.  It is best to have a slightly larger shell ready for when your crab moults and these new shells can also be purchased from your local pet store.

Ant Farm

If you’re little one is a discoverer or a budding scientist, an ant farm is the perfect educational tool. Ants work together to build a community and observing their habitat can prove to be very interesting to young minds. The winner of the best-rated ant farm in 2013 was the GeoSafari Ant Factory, with the Uncle Milton Giant Ant Farm as the runner up. The average cost of an ant farm is $30, with ants included in the package. Whichever ant-aquarium you choose to get your child, make sure that it is break resistant and escape proof. Having an ant-infestation in your home would be a nightmare, to say the least.


Don’t be alarmed! When I say rodent, I’m really talking about the cute, plump, fuzzy critters. A guinea pig, hamster, or mouse is the perfect substitute if you’re child keeps begging you for a puppy or a kitten. These “pocket pets” are nocturnal during the day, so if you are a working parent, you won’t feel bad leaving it alone all day.  Rodents are social animals and thrive best when they have a companion. Bear this in mind when you are contemplating a pet for your child. Also, Guinea pigs and hamsters can be fed fresh leftover veggies to cut down on food costs. The set-up cost for these pet rodents can range from $30 to $60 varying on the cage size.

Small Birds

They sing, they fly, and they’re colourful. What is there not to love about birds? Budgies, canaries, or finches are ideal pets for first-time bird owners. The start-up cost for a small bird would be less than $100, including cage, food, and toys. However, it is recommended that birds be taken to a veterinarian for a yearly checkup. It is important to note that birds do have a longer life span than the other animals mentioned. Ultimately, as a parent, you will have to commit to any future expenses that the animal will incur.


If you have a backyard and the desire to teach your child an invaluable lesson, getting a chick would be ideal for your family. One of the lessons you can teach your child is about sustainable living; apart from using their eggs, chickens can also fertilize your soil and can help prepare garden beds.

Purchasing a chick can cost as little as $2. Tiny chicks do need a heat lamp for warmth in their first six weeks of life. Moreover, purchasing a chicken that is 16 to 20 weeks old should begin producing eggs shortly after. Chickens eat anything from garden waste to kitchen scraps and can often be found grazing for crawling bugs.  If you wanted to build your own coop with scrap wood and chicken wire, the total cost would approximately be $50.

It may also be beneficial to make a list to help determine the ideal first pet for your child. Take a note of how much time you are prepared to put into this pet and how much money you are willing to spend on pet care, food, and maintenance. Whichever pet you decide to give your child, it is important to remember that you will be teaching your child important life lessons.  This can act as a stepping stool for when your child is ready to commit to the responsibilities and costs of a larger, more expensive animal.



Written by Melissa Cortes, Yahoo!7 Moneyhound – Fetching you a better deal.
Moneyhound.com.au is a price comparison site that can help you save money across all your monthly bills. Try it now, it’s free.

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  • We’ve tried keeping a bunch of gold fish but ended up killing them, causing even more heartache.


  • goldfish are great and very hardy. mechanical animals can be fun and after initial outlay are cheap on food etc lol


  • A fish marks all the boxes!


  • Ants can squeeze through the tiniest spot ,especially baby ones. I’ve yet to har of an escape proof home for them that allows them enough air. Chickens are a great idea. We had many over the years. You do have to make sure they have a balanced diet and their water containers are re-filled every day and thoroughly cleaned every 2 or 3 days as the containers get really dirty as sometimes chickens and older ones decide to stand in or scratch in the dirt. Sometimes some of it goes into the water. They may also drop food in it when they have a drink. The base of the container gets slimy and needs a thorough clean. The area the live in needs to have waste raked up and removed once a week or more, depending on the number of them and the space they are in. Nobody likes the smell of a dirty yard / living area. If it gets smelly no doubt your neighbours will smell it too. It also attracts mice and rats. All poultry needs to be in a closed secure area at night, even in the metropolitan area to protect them from stray cats, or if you are in an outer metropolitan area there may even be foxes.


  • Well, children loves fish aquariums as it contains colored and variety of fishes. You can get it from http://www.aquaristiconline.com.au/collections/eheim.


  • Fish are good! Really good knowledge to know! Thanks for sharing this!


  • As a child I was most put out that my parents wouldn’t get me a horse, lol. Maybe not the best idea when you live in the suburbs, hehe.


  • we have fish, a hermit crab and a dog! we love our pets! it is harder to have them when you rent though and having a dog really limits your housing options but we are happy


  • We have a variety – living out in the country has its advantages, with 5 dogs (all different sizes and ages), a cat, cows and sheep. The cheapest is a fish but I’m afraid our twins will overfeed them, and then have to buy a new one every couple of days, lol.


  • We tried a fish but it died on the very first day. My girls so want a dog but I don’t think I’m ready for it!


  • We have two dogs. Our bub loves them


  • goldfish is a cheap pet but there is a lot more work than I bargained for


  • I would agree with the fish. We had a goldfish for my son and it cost next to nothing


  • Another easy insect you can have for a pet is a preying mantis.


  • My son had an ant farm, absolutely loved it, it was interesting for the adults as well

    • A friend’s son has an ant farm and adores it.


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