Ever since the days of the early cavemen, who domesticated wolves into dogs about 14-15 thousand years ago, mankind has had pets. In fact, we have domesticated many animals to be pets, as well as beasts of burden and food and clothing, but just like everyone prefers different things to eat, or fashions to wear, it seems that no one agrees on any one kind of pet. Like deciding who you will marry, finding the right pet for you is a personal decision, and it can be based on many things, like how much time you have to spend with it, how much money you can afford for its care, and your overall lifestyle and level of commitment. Americans personalize everything these days, and it seems that there are different pets for different people.
If you are looking for a universal “best pet”, the obvious first choice is the first animal that ever was a pet, the dog. The dog, said to be man’s best friend, is a good pet and a great friend and companion who has been bred for tens of thousands of years to work for – and with – us and to truly enjoy being around their people. It has been argued that civilization would not have begun without their help (www.beamsandstruts.com paragraph 1). However, regardless of such a long and beneficial history between people and dogs, they just don’t fit everyone’s lifestyle. Some modern Americans are so busy or live in such small houses that it might be hard to care for something as large as a dog. Of course, there are many different breeds of dog and each of them has their own benefit, but nearly all of them can cause allergies and they aren’t all so easy to care for. Also, some people might not have the time or money to be a good companion to the dog or be able to afford food for it. So, not even the reigning champion of pets- even with all of its varieties- is a good fit for everyone.
While there are hundreds of types of animals that can be pets, probably the next most popular animal is the cat. Cats are very independent creatures, and they don’t have to greet you at the door like the dog. They’re very clean because they self- groom. They also are calm, and don’t panic when you are leaving. These tend to be positive attributes to people who don’t like or have the time for dogs. Unfortunately, this independence comes with a litter box. Sure, if you have a doggie door they can go outside but you’re bound every once in a while to find an accident. Plus, fleas and cars live outside, and you don’t want your cat to meet either. More to the point, outdoor domestic cats are arguably the worst invasive species infestation in the history of the world, and they have caused many species to go extinct. Some source evidence is “Domestic cats are directly responsible for the extinction of a number of animal species around the world, including 33 bird species.” (CBSnews.com paragraph 5). If you are pregnant, cat litter boxes carry toxoplasmosis, which is a parasite which can kill your unborn baby (https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis). While millions of people love their cats like they were their own children, there are very good reasons why they are also not suited for everyone.
Aside from other somewhat traditional pets, there are plenty of exotic alternatives such as primates (which usually don’t do well as pets), and reptiles – some of which do well in captivity. An often popular reptilian choice is the ball python. The ball python does not take much in the way of money or time and is basically silent and odorless – good for apartments. In terms of money you have to pay for the enclosure, the light, the ground cover of the enclosure (sand, wood shavings, carpet, etc.), water bowl and optional things like rocks, fancy bowls, backgrounds, etc. They have a lack of emotion and so they don’t really require much attention. In fact, even though they adapt well to handling, they do not suffer if they don’t get played with. They are not slimy, not venomous, and only bite with tiny teeth when very hungry or in defense. Some downsides to having a ball python is the lack of companionship and that it does not show affection the way a dog or even a cat does. They can be difficult to get to eat reliably, and when they do, it is either live or pre-killed mice and rats – something that many people don’t want to deal with. Also, it is important to make sure that if you get a ball python that it is captive bred, and not caught from the wild.
With the increased popularity of reptiles as pets there is increased pressure on wild populations. In addition to the more than 60,000 ball pythons that are imported annually, ball pythons are killed for food and their skin is used for leather in their native land. (www.anapsid.org/ball.html, paragraph 6)
Because of this the ball python is also not a pet for everyone.
We have reviewed 3 different animals as possible pets, and none of them are quite perfect for everyone. It would be impossible to cover every species of animal in any one book, much less an essay, but neither the traditional or exotic animals we covered meet everyone’s needs any better or worse than many other animals. Some people might want a platypus. I’ve heard they don’t do much. Overall, it seems conclusive that there is not a best pet, and that what type of pet (if any) is best for you depends on many facts about your life and schedule, income and affection and many other facts. But while no one species works for every person, if you are interested, there are likely many good choices for you, because I believe there is a perfect pet for every person.