6 unconventional pets to consider in your retirement

Many pets together like a dog, parrot, cat, etc.
Photo by Eric Isselee/Shutterstock

So you’re retiring—or you’ve retired—and suddenly it’s hitting you: leisure time. After years in pursuit, you finally have it in your grasp. The question now is: what do you do with it? What’s the best way to spend your leisure time? And more importantly, who do you want to spend it with?

Many people get pets when they retire. Leisure time is best spent with someone who knows how to enjoy it, and, let’s face it, animals totally have humans beat on that front. People seeking pets usually default to cats and dogs, but there are many possible animal companions out there to fit various sorts of requirements and lifestyles. Maybe you need a low-maintenance pet, or something hypoallergenic, or something friendly and loving. In any of those cases, we’ve got you covered. The following are six unusual pets to retire with, whatever your retirement needs are.

(Please note that the legality of owning certain pets varies from province to province, so check local laws before you going out and getting your new retirement buddy—and make sure you purchase from an ethical seller in accordance with regulations.)


a hedgehog

Photo by Mr. Suttipon Yakham/Shutterstock

There are a lot of perks to owning a hedgehog, especially if a dog or cat sounds like a bit too much commitment for you. These little ball-shaped creatures are cute and friendly, but they don’t constantly want to sit on your lap or be taken for walks. Hedgehogs are small and quiet, and they’re hypoallergenic, so they shouldn’t be too high maintenance. At the same time, they do require regular cage-cleaning and exercise, and the hedgehogs that do the best as pets are the ones that spend some time with people and being handled every day (you can actually touch their quills painlessly with a little care). Overall, a hedgehog requires less maintenance than a cat or a dog and are generally pleasant and quiet companions.

Miniature Pigs

A miniature pig in a teacup

Photo by Linn Currie/Shutterstock

Regular pigs can reach unwieldy sizes, but miniature pigs or micro pigs come in a variety of more manageable sizes, starting at about a foot or a foot-and-a-half tall. There are several reasons to want a pig for a companion—for starters, they’re ridiculously cute. Also, they can be litter-box trained, they’re hypoallergenic, and they’re extremely smart. But a word of caution: pigs need caring, devoted owners and lots of appropriate space to live in. Mini pigs are not legal in some big cities, but they could live happy lives in rural areas and acreages. So if you’re planning to spend your retirement gardening in your country home, a mini pig might just be the ideal companion.

Pacman Frogs

A pacman frog

Photo by Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock

Not really in search of a warm-and-fuzzy pet? Want something a bit more unusual? The pacman frog might be just for you. This frog somewhat resembles the arcade game character, but may also be named for its tendency to eat its aquarium-mates, so make sure you keep your pacman frog in its own space. If you’re a bit of a loner, you’ll probably love these frogs—they love to burrow, often burying themselves so only their eyes are visible. A pacman frog isn’t just a pet, it’s a conversation piece.


A degu

Photo by Svietlieisha Olena/Shutterstock

These Chilean rodents look a bit like big gerbils, and they share many of the same features: they’re quick, curious, and intelligent. However, degu tend to be more personable than gerbils—they bond with their owners and love to be handled and petted. They also love to play and appreciate multi-level cages and obstacle courses, so if you’re a handy-person, degu might inspire a few new projects.

Pygmy Goats

Two pygmy goats

Photo by Volt Collection/Shutterstock

Here’s another pet for the farm-dwellers and rural residents out there. Pygmy goats are the kind of pets you can often leave to themselves. They’ll happily hang out in your backyard, snacking on clover and hay. And if you want companionship, a pygmy goat is a friendly and gentle comrade. They’re so social, in fact, that you might want to consider getting a couple so that they can keep one another company. Goats have other perks as well: their manure makes great compost and the females produce milk. For those who want a little bit of the farm in their retirement, a goat is a great pet for getting just a small taste of the homesteader lifestyle.


A pet tarantula

Photo by Peter Gudella/Shutterstock

One person’s nightmare is another’s dream pet. While some people in your life might not appreciate your adopting a giant, hairy arachnid, if you’re the kind of person who appreciates having a touch of the unfamiliar in your living room, a tarantula might be perfect for you. They’re also pretty low-maintenance: they’re happy if they have a big terrarium and a few crickets to eat. A pet tarantula is a great reminder that retirement doesn’t have to be tame.

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