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Finding Nemo — and your new best friend

You may have had to leave Fido barking at home, but living on campus doesn’t mean you have to be completely pet-free. Options may be limited, but look around and you’ll be sure to find a pet that is suitable for campus living.

Looking for pets that are inexpensive and fun, many of the College’s residents turn to fish, which are easy to maintain.

“Betta fish are very easy to care for and are quite popular because they are difficult to kill,” senior English major Courtney Rydel, the proud caretaker of a betta fish named Neptune, said.

In order to keep your betta fish alive and healthy, change their water once a week and feed it twice a day.

To change Neptune’s water, Rydel scoops him out in a cup, uses a strainer to keep the pebbles in the bowl, rinses out the fish waste and refills it with fresh water from the tap.

She also adds specially formulated drops from the pet store that neutralize the chemicals in the tap water so it does not kill the fish.

“I think watching a fish swim is relaxing,” Rydel said, explaining why she opted to get a fish. “And betta fish are visually stunning.”

Lizards are often thought to be easy pets to care for, but Jackie Hehir, senior English and women and gender studies major, disagrees.

She rescued her anole lizard, Frodo, from the biology lab her sophomore year. The lizard was originally used for an experiment on how lizards respond to heat, and was going to be released into the cold New Jersey winter where he would have quickly died.

To take care of Frodo, Hehir feeds him a dozen live crickets every three days and keeps his tank at a minimum temperature of 80 degrees.

She sprays down his tank when it is dried out to keep him moist and comfortable, and provides him with an ultraviolet lamps and a heated rock to provide optimal survival conditions.

The lizard’s cage only needs to be cleaned twice a semester. Hehir spent approximately $280 for the lizard’s fake trees, heating pad, rock, wood chips and crickets.

The only downside to having a lizard is that it may not be the most playful pet.

“You can’t play with him because he’ll run away,” Hehir said. “He doesn’t like people.”

Hamsters and gerbils may be considered more popular pet options. Senior biology major Kathy Bet owned three dwarf hamsters in the course of her time at the College.

She was given her first hamster as a gift and loved it so much that she felt the need to replace it when it died.

The three hamsters were quite easy to take care of, as they were so small that they hardly ate anything or produced any waste.

As long as they are fed and given fresh water every day, with their wood chips changed once a week, they don’t require anything else.

For the glass tank, wheel, ball, water, food and wood chips, it cost Bet between $20 and $30. The hamsters Bet bought were about $10 each and their food and wood chips only cost $1 a month, making a hamster a low-cost animal.

Besides feeding them, there are only a few more things you have to worry about with hamsters.

“Hamsters are self-cleaning animals, and you don’t want to get them wet because they can catch a cold which can kill them,” Bet said.

If you do not want to get a pet that requires a lot of maintenance, other options are pet rocks, Chia Pets and Tamagotchis which are suddenly popular again. They require very little attention and can be forgotten about with little to no guilt at all.

It’s never been easier to own a pet on campus, thanks to the office of Residential and Community Development’s policies that allow students to bring pets from home without getting a permit.

The guide to residence living says that fish, turtles, hamsters, mice, gerbils, small guinea pigs, iguanas, lizards and hermit crabs are permitted, as long as they are contained within a glass tank that is no larger than 10 gallons.


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