#HOBBIES

What Pets To Keep In Singapore – Part 1: Little Friends

A list of smaller-sized animal friendlies that you and your family can consider.

By Chris Ong      4 November 2022

There are so many reasons why you might consider getting a pet: Companionship, to help bring out yours or your kid’s caring and responsible sides, security (personal, physical, mental and emotional) – the list goes on.

As is the roll call of creatures – big and small, furry, feathery or scaly – that you can choose to get for yourself or your family in Singapore.

We highlight some of these fantastic “beasts” and why you should find (and keep) them in our 3-part series about looking for the ideal pet for you and the family. For Part 1, it’s all about the littler creatures that are suitably-sized for smaller homes.

(Keep eagle-eyed for Parts 2 and 3, where we talk about familiar furkids such as cats and dogs, and other more “exotic” specimens, respectively.)

Red-eared Sliders or Terrapins

The 101 on these dome-shelled chelonians: They are semi-aquatic freshwater turtles (they can live in water and come up onto land) and have webbed feet (unlike the flippers of marine turtles and the stumpy feet of tortoises).

They can grow up to 25 cm in length or more, which means while they are not quite as small as, say, a hamster, they are right-sized for those whose dwellings are large enough to for a proper tank (with a capacity of 400 litres or more).

Do note however that while these guys often come as tiny, adorable babies, they do grow to a large size as adults and will require the appropriate space.

And, it is only one of two kinds of reptiles allowed to be brought in and sold as pets in Singapore (the other being the much more expensive Malayan box terrapin). Read on to see why you might warm up to these cold-blooded reptiles.

They Live Longer Than Other Pets

While they can’t quite nearly live a whole century like a tortoise can, they do have an average lifespan of some 30 years, longer than other domesticated pets (a hamster can live 2 to 3 years, while a dog can live beyond a decade). This means that by adopting one, you’re in it for the long haul. Make sure you’re prepared to make that commitment!

Depending on how much TLC you give a terrapin, it can become your almost-lifetime companion, to be at your side through your ups and downs, and to even see your kiddo through all of his or her education years.

Super Affordable & Adorable

The good news: You can easily purchase a terrapin from a reputable store for under $10, and they do look simply adorkable when young.

Again, our must-heed advice: Please don’t just buy them because they are cheap and cute. They live for decades and can grow up to beyond 25 cm, so taking care of them – as with any pet – is a commitment. Abandoning any animal pets is illegal and is just. Not. Right.

Some Care Is Required

While these terrapins are independent creatures, they do require some care and concern – feeding, maintaining their tank, and so on – to make sure they are kept healthy and happy.

If you or the folks at home don’t have the capacity to give extra love and attention – like how you should play and take walks with a super social dog – yet want some responsibility in taking care of and interacting with a pet, then a terrapin’s ideal.

Where To Get One

These not-so Teenage Mutant Ninja but real-life Turtles can be found at pet stores like Pet Lovers Centre, which not only offers young terrapins for you to provide a forever-home for, but also all the equipment and supplies like water filtration systems, UVB fluorescent lights and submersible water-heaters, needed for your terra-baby.

And, it’s seriously not all about the biz; Pet Lovers Centre offers free Pet Care Consultant services online via LiveChat, video and in selected outlets, plus a special blog site online that provides info on caring for pets.

Pet Lovers Centre, multiple locations, www.petloverscentre.com; www.facebook.com/PetLoversCentreSingapore; www.instagram.com/plc_singapore

BONUS: SAFRA members enjoy 3% off regular-priced items (with a minimum spend of $15) and a free $10 “Welcome Voucher” for new VIP card sign-ups at Pet Lovers Centre. Click here for more information.

Hamsters

Who can resist a pocket-sized furry cutie? Hamsters may be some of the smallest household pets out there, but they are big in the popularity stakes. Below are some reasons why you ought to consider having one (or two) in the palm of your hand:

No Training’s Needed

These small furballs are “lower-maintenance” in the sense that they are not like a fussy boyfriend/girlfriend. Unlike larger furry animals like dogs or cats, they neither have to be litter-box trained nor undergo obedience lessons. However, they do require some socialising and handling on the regular, just so that they can get to know you and members of the household, and to keep at being friendly with the hands that feed them.

Pocket-sized And  (relatively) Pocket-friendly

Aside from being light and petite, hamsters are also relatively inexpensive pets to keep, compared to a dog or a cat. The initial cost of getting a hammy from a pet store usually doesn’t run higher than double digits.

And, while you do have to buy all of the supplies needed to take care of one – enclosure, bedding, treats, etc., – the cost of all these is much less than if you were to keep pooches and kitties. Hamsters may appear like greedy munchers but, trust us, their food costs are probably way lower than your own monthly snacks & desserts budget.

But make sure you’re ready to provide proper care for your little buddy if you do plan to get one. Costs of vet visits do run up more than the cost of hamsters themselves, and you should make sure you’re able to give your hamster friend the medical attention required should there be a need..

They Aren’t Space Hoggers

Like them, their “house” is relatively small in scale. While the enclosures you find at pet stores might seem enough to you, you’ll want to give these little guys a home in a larger enclosure with plenty of room to run around, hide and explore. Even then, this probably won’t end up taking your entire house.

Remember, don’t place your Hamtaro “behind bars” all the time; take him or her out to socialise with or let the energiser run around outside of the enclosure in an open space area. Just remember to keep an eye on the furball if you intend to have your pet explore your home premises – you might find it harder to retrieve them if you let them out of your sight.

Make sure you have the full rundown of what you need to give your hamster the best possible care and love – Just read on to see where you can get these essential resources in the next paragraph!

Where To Get One

While lots of reputable pet stores do sell these sweet critters, we suggest you try adopting one instead. Look up Hamster Society Singapore, an organisation that advocates for proper hamster care. It also helps to rescue and seeks to re-home abandoned, neglected or lost cuties, so do open your heart and home to the ones it has under its care.

Fish

Okay, when we say fish, we mean freshwater ones of a smaller kind, like say, no bigger than your hand and that can be kept in an aquarium or even a fishbowl. Larger ones such as arowana and koi, or saltwater fishes are on a whole different aquarist level of upkeeping.

Think more along the lines of cherry barbs, goldfishes, neon tetras, guppies, and the like – you know, the more familiar ones that are easier to feed and house in a tank. Here’s why you should keep some friendly fins at home.

They Help Calm You Down

While you can’t exactly pat, cuddle or play catch with them (for obvious reasons), they are good for you and your family in other significant ways.

According to research (and there are lots), keeping watch over an aquarium of fish can bring about health benefits such as reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and heart rate, and helping one relax at the end of the day. Seeing fishies leading the slow-life in a clean, clear and green-filled soothing environment is especially great for those dealing with WFH stress, to ease “swimmingly” into a Zen mode at any time of the day.

They Are Quieter Than A Mouse

When was the last time you heard fishes make any sort of noise in an aquarium? Except for that once-in-a-blue-moon “bloop” of a surfacing air bubble or “plop” if they jump out of the water, and the gentle hum of aquarium equipment, you could easily forget that you even own any actual pets!

Which means if you cherish your peace and quiet, fishes are your perfect company, regardless if you are reading or in a Zoom meeting.

You Don’t Have Be With Them 24/7

While fishes make for ideal “discreet” company, you yourself or the rest of the family don’t actually need to be taking care of them all of the time. Unlike other furry or feathery friendlies, you don’t need to entertain, walk or clean them. They are independent “fish-ple” that don’t suffer any anxiety attacks when they don’t see their owners (read: not needy). Just feed them and clean their tanks regularly, and all’s good.

Where To Get One 

Before you jump into the deep end, you will have to check if different species can get along in the same aquarium if you are getting more than 1 (it’s quite likely you will get a few). There are lots of aquarium shops to find your very own Nemo (but make it a freshwater one, not the saltwater kind) and to find out about all things fishy.

Or, visit the websites of the Fish Bazaar or Fish Play businesses to purchase what you need and to “window-shop” for the kind of fish friend you and your kiddo wish to make acquaintances with.

PetExpo Singapore

You’ve stayed this far, so we’ve got a bonus for you. Singapore’s largest pet fair is happening from 25 – 27 November at Singapore Expo Hall 6.

Bring your fur-kids for a pawsome day out! Or shop from an extensive range of food and pet related products and services, sit and enjoy the many stage programmes and shows or find a new furry friend through adoption. Families, friends and animal lovers must attend this pet event of the year!

SAFRA members can get a 1 Day Pass to PetExpo Singapore at $4 (U.P. $5) or 3 Days Passes to PetExpo Singapore at $10 (U.P. $12). Click here for more info.