Top 10 (Low-Maintenance!) Cheap Pets

Discover the top 10 affordable and low-maintenance pets for budget-conscious pet lovers. Explore options from Betta fish to guinea pigs and hermit crabs, and find your perfect pet companion economically.

cheap pets

If you’re searching for new pets and animals that won’t empty your wallet, look no further. We’ve lined up the top 10 cheap pets that combine adoption affordability with ease of care. From the serene betta fish to social guinea pigs and the unconventional hermit crab, our list is packed with animals and money-saving tips, like how to score free or cheap pet food delivery, so pet owners can keep a little cash in their account.


1. Betta Fish and Siamese Fighting Fish: ~$3-$20 to Adopt

If you’re seeking cheap pets that require minimal effort and don’t lead to hefty veterinarian costs, consider the Betta or Siamese fighting fish. These low-maintenance creatures are an excellent choice for individuals residing in compact environments or with busy lifestyles, as they thrive in small tanks ranging from five to 10 gallons and exhibit a calm nature.

Their nutritional needs are simple – a diet of brine shrimp and fish pellets will suffice to maintain these tropical beauties’ well-being. Initial investments, including the purchase of the pet itself along with its habitat and supplementary items, usually sum up to roughly $30, accompanied by modest recurring monthly expenses near $10.

2. Guinea Pigs: ~$10-$50 to Adopt

Guinea pigs are also an excellent choice for those seeking a friendly and cost-effective and low maintenance pet. Due to their sociable nature, a guinea pig is a great pet, and they also provide valuable company that can last up to seven years, making them ideal pets for families.

In terms of affordability, guinea pigs score high as well. The initial adoption investment might vary from around $10-$50 for a single guinea pig. Following this initial outlay, you’ll find that ongoing monthly expenses such as bedding and food could be approximately $35 on average – quite manageable for most aspiring pet owners.

3. Hermit Crabs: ~$25 to Adopt

If you’re looking for a unique pet that won’t break the bank, consider adopting hermit crabs. These intriguing little low-maintenance pets stand out as some of the most cost-effective companions available. Their upfront costs are typically $25 or less, alongside minimal ongoing expenses for their nourishment.

To ensure hermit crabs are comfortable in their new home, they require a habitat such as a 10-gallon tank filled with sand and adorned with tree branches and possibly a heat pad. A hermit grab cage is about $40-$50, and you can estimate monthly food and supplies to hover around $20.

4. Leopard Geckos: ~$20-$40 to Adopt

Leopard geckos are a top pick for those interested in reptiles and looking for great pets that are easy to care for. Their low initial cost, simplicity of care, and gentle demeanor make them appealing to pet owners looking to save money.

To create an inviting habitat for a leopard gecko, reptile enthusiasts must provide:

  • A well-ventilated enclosure with adequate warmth from a heat source, possibly a heat pad
  • Substrate lining the bottom
  • Places to hide and elements that provide stimulation
  • A damp area conducive to shedding processes

A leopard gecko tank typically costs about $70 at a pet store, like Petco. You'll also need a thermostat or dimmer, which costs about $15, a halogen heat bulb, which costs about $10, and a UVB light, which costs about $45.

5. Dwarf Frogs: ~$5-$10 to Adopt

If you’re in the market for a low maintenance pet that doesn’t demand much room, reptile enthusiasts should consider adopting a dwarf frog. These pint-sized amphibians thrive comfortably in modest accommodations. Even one or two can be content within just a 10-gallon tank, while groups flourish with at least 20 gallons of space.

When caring for dwarf frogs, it’s essential to ensure they have:

  • Pristine water conditions
  • A varied diet consisting of frozen mysis shrimp, bloodworms, specially formulated pellets and brine shrimp.
  • An environment that closely resembles their natural habitat complete with aquatic plants
  • Regular water changes done on both weekly and monthly intervals

For a 10-gallon tank, you can expect to pay about $30 at the Petco. While other pets can cost thousands, dwarf frogs are surprisingly easy and have a very low ongoing expense.

6. Ant Farms: ~$14-$34 to Adopt

Ant farms represent an economical and informative pastime. These habitats are quite affordable and require minimal space, with prices ranging between $14 and $34. In some cases, that price even includes the ants themselves.

Once they’re up and running, they demand very little upkeep. A bit of food and water now and then is all that’s needed, making them a great pet option for those at a young age. They can also be leveraged as dynamic teaching aids across several educational fields, such as mathematics, language arts, and art.

7. Canaries: ~$25-$75 to Adopt

For those who adore birds and are in search of affordable pets, canaries make an excellent option. These social creatures typically have an adoption price tag ranging from $25 to $75, depending on the bird's age, color, and whether it has been bred to sing. Annual expenses for food and supplies averaged about $120.

Canary care essentials include:

  • A cage that’s at least 18 inches long by 14 inches wide by 18 inches high
  • An environment with temperatures maintained between 65 F and 80 F
  • Access to full-spectrum UV lighting
  • A nutritious diet and daily feeding comprising pelleted feed, seeds, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.

To keep a canary mentally engaged, provide toys or mirrors. Be aware that mirrors may sometimes lead them to exhibit territorial behavior.

8. Hamsters: ~$25 to Adopt

Hamsters rank highly among small pets that require minimal care and are simple to manage. These cheap pets, active primarily at night, need only a compact habitat and an uncomplicated diet.

The initial investment for setting up your furry companion with a comfortable home, with all necessary accessories, including the cage, wheel, bedding, and food, is relatively low-cost, typically between $50 and $100. The ongoing monthly expenses for maintaining a hamster average around $10, establishing it as an economical pet choice over time.

Owners of these robust animals should nevertheless be alert to typical health concerns like wet tail, parasites such as mites, and issues related to their teeth. Pet owners should anticipate spending between $50 and $100 per year on general vet bills and routine checkups.

9. Stick Insects: ~$20-$50 to Adopt a Supply of 50

Families looking for an unusual yet affordable low maintenance pet might find stick insects to be compelling, low-cost creatures. A starting group of about 50 can typically be acquired at a modest price ranging from $20 to $50, making them some of the cheapest pets you can find.

For optimal living conditions, stick insects require an enclosure that’s triple their body length in height and this environment does not require frequent maintenance – it can go up to one week without care. Their dietary needs are straightforward. They primarily feed on common foliage like oak leaves and rose bushes.

Attributes of stick insects include:

  • Gentle nature with no tendency to bite or harm humans when handled
  • Distinctive individual traits
  • Minimal effort required for upkeep
  • They constitute a cost-effective option perfect for inclusion into any home seeking a pet.

10. Snails: ~$10 to Adopt

Consider snails if you’re in the market for cheap pets that are easy, require minimal space, and that stand out. These low maintenance pets move at a leisurely pace and only require an enclosure with good airflow, consistent light spraying of water, and diverse nourishment consisting mainly of fresh produce—traits that define them as unique pets needing minimal maintenance. Your neighborhood pet stores, like Petco, are likely to carry them.

Getting started with a simple habitat for your snail won’t break the bank. You can set one up for less than $50—an economical start-up cost. When cared for appropriately in captivity, these gastropods can enjoy an extended lifespan reaching two decades.

If uniqueness, combined with ease of care and low costs, is what you seek in a pet ownership experience without breaking your budget or back from demanding routines, then bringing home a snail might be perfect.


Other Money-Saving Tips for Pet Owners

For pet owners looking to save money while still providing the best for their pets, there are several strategies that can be employed:

  • DIY Pet Toys and Accessories: Instead of purchasing expensive toys and accessories, consider making them at home. Use safe household items to craft engaging toys for your pets.
  • Buy in Bulk: Purchase food, litter, and bedding in bulk, such as from stores like BJ's Wholesale Club. This often results in a lower cost per unit and can save money over time.
  • Preventative Care: Invest in preventative care to avoid costly vet bills in the future. This includes regular check-ups, vaccinations, and maintaining a healthy diet for your pet.
  • Groom at Home: Learn to perform basic grooming tasks at home, such as bathing, nail trimming, and brushing. This can significantly reduce the cost of professional grooming services.
  • Use Coupons and Discounts: Keep an eye out for pet coupons, discounts, sales, and even pet freebies. Sign up for newsletters and loyalty programs to receive special offers.
  • Adopt, Don’t Shop: Consider adopting pets from shelters or rescue groups. Adoption fees are often less than the cost of buying a pet from a breeder or pet store, and you're giving a home to a pet in need.
  • Pet Insurance: Consider getting pet insurance to help cover unexpected medical expenses. Compare different plans to find one that suits your budget and your pet’s needs.
  • Community Resources: Look for community resources such as low-cost spay/neuter programs, vaccination clinics, and pet food banks.
  • Homemade Pet Food: If you have the time and knowledge, making your own pet food can be cost-effective. However, consult with your vet to ensure that your pet's nutritional needs are met.


- Vanessa