If you are like me, then you have a special place in your heart for the smaller creatures of the world, like hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets, mice, and chinchillas. A new pet owner might likely spend over $400 furnishing an adobe for their furry friend, but with these tips you can save big bucks while still giving little Penelope or Cheddar a home they will chatter on about throughout the night.
The cage: Cages greatly range in size, materials, and price. While mice will be content with smaller habitats, chinchillas and ferrets need more room to bounce around. Whatever the size, avoid pet stores like Petsmart and Petco where you can expect to pay full retail for a cage. The Prevue Hendryx cage I purchased from Amazon was only $120 at the time with free shipping, compared to the same cage at a whooping $299 from Petco. That’s a 60% savings right there.
The bedding: Here’s where spending a little more will save more in the end, mainly on vet bills. Small critters are extremely sensitive to dusty environments, and messy bedding causes a lot of dust when the cuties are running around their cage. I purchase Eco-bedding, which only costs a few more cents per ounce but leaves my chinchilla sneeze free. Also avoid pine and cedar chips, as they are lethal to rodents.
The food: Rodent food averages about $8 per five-pound bag at Petsmart. For a better price, try scouting pet discount websites. You may have to buy in bulk, but the savings per unit are definitely worth it. My locally owned pet store offers the same products at better prices too, so definitely check your community for pet stores. Vitakraft Sunseed is a great brand of food for critters and currently offers multiple rebates on their Facebook page.
The toys: Again, pet discount stores and local pet stores are your tickets to saving. I recently bought my chinchilla Timothy hay mats for his cage at only $2.45 each on www.petsupplies.com. The same mats cost about $10 at Petco. New customers to the website also receive an automatic %15 discount on their online purchase.
The treats: My chinchilla loves dried peas and carrots. A 2-ounce bag costs $1.99 at Petsmart. I can buy dried peas at the store for $.79 per 2-pound bag and fresh carrots for $.88 per 1-pound bag at my local grocery store. I simply dry out the carrots for about 30 minutes in my oven at 350 degrees. Whatever produce your pet prefers, it is commonly cheaper to buy the ingredients and prepare the treats yourself.
No matter the product, you can always find savings by looking in new and different places online and in your community. I know my chinchilla enjoys the savings when he is digging through an extra bag of alfalfa carrot nibblers or chewing through his new loofa burger.