So, you’re thinking of getting a small, inexpensive pet with the idea it will be more affordable to maintain; well think again. According to a recent survey conducted through Ask.Vet, six out of the 10 most expensive animals to own when it comes to medical expenses are small pets (think rodents and frogs), with gerbils leading the pack when it comes to hefty vet bills. That’s right. You may spend $10 or less for several of these animals, but it could cost you through the nose if medical attention is required.
No. 1 — Gerbils
Consulting 1,000 pet owners in regards to veterinarian bills, 80 percent of gerbil owners reported spending more than $500 yearly on the furry little critters when it came to medical upkeep. This makes the animals the most expensive pet in the nation to own, not buy.
No. 2 — Mice
Coming in a very close second were mice, with 79 percent of owners reporting that they paid close to that same amount as gerbil owners every year in an effort to keep them healthy. Mice are also extremely inexpensive animals to purchase, but it will cost you if they’re sick.
No. 5 — Chinchillas
Known as crepuscular rodents, these adorable little creatures native to the Andes in South America came in as the fifth most costly where vet bills are concerned. While far more expensive than mice or gerbils to buy, you won’t shell out quite as much yearly at the veterinarian, but they’re pricier in that respect than owning a cat or dog.
No. 7 — Hedgehogs
These prickly little devils have become popular pets in recent years, but they can rack up high enough vet bills to earn them a spot as the seventh most expensive pet to dote on. With illnesses like Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS), they’re unfortunately not that cheap to keep.
No. 8 — Guinea Pigs
The ever-popular guinea pig ranks as the eighth priciest pet when it comes time to see the doc. While a childhood favorite for generations of Americans, if you need to take them in you might be in for a rude awakening when it comes time to pay the bill.
No. — 10 Frogs
Our amphibian friends surprisingly come in as the 10th most-costly pet at the vet. While I’ve never heard of anyone taking a frog to the vet, apparently pet owners do, and they shell out more money to keep them healthy than many other pet owners of different species.
So, why are rodents so expensive when it comes to the vet? Historically prey animals, they have apparently “genetically evolved to hide illness until they're seriously sick,” said Dr. Cherice Roth, a veterinarian connected with the subscription-based vet service. Once they do show signs of illness, extreme efforts are needed in order to cure them. "If the owner wants to save them at that point, it's all hands on deck," continued Roth.
Education is Key
When asked, Roth attributes the sizeable bills to a lack of education among pet owners. Most people know how to care for cats and dogs, but rodents have a different set of requirements. If their needs aren’t met properly, then they can easily get sick. For instance, rodents can fall ill from the fumes in some of the scented barks used as bedding. As it turns out, shredded newspaper or plain packing paper without the print is a safer bet.
"There is a movement to buying more and more unusual pets," Roth stated. "But a lot of people haven't really considered whether the pet will fit well into the family lifestyle or what it takes to keep that pet healthy."
If you’re wondering what the other four animals on that Top 10 list were, they are alpacas (3rd), goats (4th), sheep (6th) and pot-bellied pigs (9th). If you’re considering purchasing any of the animals on this list, have a frank discussion with your veterinarian before taking the proverbial plunge. Depending on your circumstances, you may not have the time, money or wherewithal to spend on them, and — because they’re living creatures — it just isn’t fair to them to take them on otherwise.
Source: CBS News