If you are thinking of adopting a small pet, such as a rodent, fish, reptile, or amphibian, caring for their habitat is an integral part of caring for the animal. It isn’t enough just to make sure they are fed and with access to fresh water – their cages have to be kept clean too.
An aquarium is pretty much the only option if you want to keep fish or another aquatic pet (barring a pond in your backyard). Aquariums can also be used to create a terrarium, either to house amphibians or reptiles, or just to grow plants. If you use an aquarium for a terrarium or to keep rodents, remember not to put it in direct sunlight, as the “greenhouse” effect will make it far too hot, and there is very little ventilation.
One advantage to keeping rodents in an aquarium is that the wood chips are contained, and won’t end up all over the floor. A special mesh or plastic top can be purchased especially for keeping rodents in an aquarium, that will allow ventilation and keep other household pets out of their enclosure. Don’t use a solid cover, as mammals require ventilation and may become sick if they don’t have access to fresh air.
There are a wide variety of different types of terrariums, and you should research which type is best for your reptilian or amphibious pet. Aquatic terrariums are much like aquariums, but require much less water and have different décor than an aquarium, generally including at least one area where the pet can climb onto a surface outside of the water to bask in warmth. Semi-aquatic terrariums have a combination of land and water, and often have a heat source over the land. A woodland terrarium is an ideal habitat for tree frogs and many other animals that live in a forest in the wild. These often feature full spectrum lighting and many types of plants. A desert terrarium imitates the desert climate, and often features plants such as cacti. Different reptiles and amphibians have wildly varying specific needs, so if you are interested in maintaining a terrarium as a pet habitat, be sure to extensively research the requirements of the animals you are interested in owning.
Wire cages are a popular choice for rodents, likely due to their low cost and the ease of cleaning them. They provide great ventilation, but if you have cats or any other predatory pets, these cages make it easy for them to get their noses or claws uncomfortably close to your smaller pet. Some designs of wire cages are much easier for a rodent to escape from, especially a hamster, rat, mouse, or gerbil. If you opt for a wire cage, ensure that the model you purchase is designed for the type of pet you have opted for. Wire cages are a fantastic option for larger rodents, such as rabbits or guinea pigs, as they are much lighter weight(and thus significantly easier to clean) when dealing with a large enclosure.