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Pets You Have Time to Take Care of in College

It can feel really lonely at Pitt sometimes—especially in the winter. Your half-dead cactus isn’t doing the job anymore. You start to miss your family but mostly your dog (or cat). They love you even if you failed your chem midterm, and they’d cuddle you while you cried afterwards. But they aren’t here! Luckily, there are some pets that Pitt allows in the dorms. If you live off campus, your landlord will probably give you more leeway on what you can have. What can you get? What does it cost? How much time does it need? Here is a list of allowed pets in Pitt dorms and (hopefully) allowed pets in apartments. And if you are super poor, you can always get a pet rock from Schenley. MAKE SURE TO DO RESEARCH BEFORE BUYING ANY PET SO YOU ARE POSITIVE YOU CAN TAKE CARE OF IT.



1. Fish

Ah, the fish. Instead of getting a boring goldfish, go to Petco and get an exotic looking one. Betta fish are also good and have cool tanks.

Startup Cost: ~$50

Maintenance: Minimal

Life Expectancy: > 1 year


2.  Moon Crabs

These look like the little dudes you see at the beach in the sand. They are a little bit livelier than a fish, and they come in cool colors like red, blue, and purple. They need a bigger tank than a fish.

Startup Cost: ~$50-$60

Maintenance: Minimal

Life Expectancy: > 3 years


3. Jellyfish

These are really cool looking, but they have an expensive start up cost because the tank is specially designed to filter but not suck up the jellies.

Startup Cost: ~$300-$400

Maintenance: Minimal

Life Expectancy: > 3 Years



(ask your landlord first)

1. Hamster

These guys are small and great if you live in a tiny apartment. They are cuddly and fun to watch roll around in an exercise ball. All they need is food, water, and a clean cage.

Startup Cost: ~$80

Maintenance: Medium

Life Expectancy: > 3 years


2. Guinea Pig

They are like bigger versions of hamsters—which means they need larger cages. They are fun to cuddle and play with! Guinea pigs need lots of fresh hay so make sure none of your roommates are allergic.

Startup Cost: ~$100

Maintenance: Medium

Life Expectancy:  > 5 years


3. Rabbit

Rabbits and guinea pigs are similar, but contrary to popular belief, rabbits are super high maintenance.  They require a large hutch or cage to live in and need daily exercise. Rabbits also need occasional trips to the vet. If not properly cared for they can chew wires, woodwork, and homework. Do extensive research before you get a rabbit.

Startup Cost: ~$200-$300

Maintenance: High/Very high

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years


4. Cat

Make sure no one is allergic! Cats are great because they take care of themselves. Clean the litter box often and feed them, and they’ll be happy! Cats are great cuddlers and are super fun to play with. Adopt one from the local shelter!

Startup Cost: ~$100

Maintenance: Medium

Life Expectancy: 8-10 years or more


5. Dog

Everyone knows dogs need a lot of care and attention. If you are home enough and are responsible enough to take care of one, they are great pets for older college kids. Vet bills can get high though so make sure you can afford them. Adopt one from a local shelter!

Startup Cost: ~$150 + vet visits

Maintenance: High/Very High

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years for small breeds and 8-10 years for large breeds


Image credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Sarah Churchman, HC Pitt's Senior Editor, is a super senior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Computer & Information Science with a specialty in User Design! She is the reserach lead in CyREN, the school's cybersecurity lab. Along with InfoSci, Sarah is minoring in Creative Writing with a focus in poetry. She is an editor at Forbes & Fifth, a student-run magazine. She is also part of H2o church. She's obsessed with tacos, Tommy Hilfiger, and ordering things off Amazon Prime!
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