Animal Attraction

Which pet is right for you?

When choosing a pet, there are innumerable considerations. Feeding, upkeep. But then also the more practical concerns: Is your yard big enough for a game of fetch? Or, can your downtown condo accommodate a hundred-gallon fish tank without having to get rid of your couch? Here’s a guide to help you find a perfect pet companion.

Dogs

Positives: An American classic. Come in any shape and size to suit your fancy. Smart, loyal and always willing to find missing tennis balls. Bonus: Singles will find canines a better social lubricant than online dating.

Downside: The drive-time Beltline traffic will feel even more interminable when rushing home to take Spot for a walk. Prone to pet-separation anxiety? Forget about the Farmers’ Market or the Memorial Union Terrace—no dogs allowed.

Perfect for: Pretty much anyone, anywhere. Suburbanites with big yards can let them roam, and those downtown will find parks aplenty.

Cost: $100 and up

Horses

Positives: Graceful, beautiful animals that embody the rugged individualism important to so many Madisonians. Carbon footprint high on your list of concerns? Park the hybrid in the garage and strap on that saddle, cowboy.

Downside: Drilling fence holes is really hard work, and where in the world to keep all that hay? Also, a simple pooper-scooper and plastic baggies are out. See: shovel.

Perfect for: Only those with the biggest yards (or fields) in the outskirts of the city.

Cost: $500 and up

Fish

Positives: Extremely quiet and soothing. Maybe you live in Madison because you like lakes. Guess what, so do they—it’s an instant bonding moment.

Downside: Cleaning the tank is work-intensive, daily feedings are needed and set-up costs can be steep. Live on the third floor with no elevator? Lugging the tank upstairs can be a hassle.

Perfect for: People with kids. Also, if you’re feeling info-overloaded you can ditch the TV and put a fish tank in its place.

Cost: $2–$50

Snakes

Positives: You’ll definitely stand out in a crowd, and they’re easy to care for—you only have to feed them once a week or so. Short on cash? Take your reptilian friend down to State Street and make a few bucks as a street performer.

Downside: If they happen to get loose, catching them won’t be as simple as putting out a dish of food and calling their name. Not the most ideal companion for a Lakeshore Path jog.

Perfect for: Counterculture Isthmus-dwellers.

Cost: $40–$200

Mice and Rats

Positives: Incredibly smart, interactive and love to play. They’re also big fans of day trips, so throw them in your coat pocket and take them down to Picnic Point. Easily amused by the torn-up newspaper (recycle!) padding their cages. Mice’s love of cheese provides natural home-state ties.

Downside: Short life spans, so not for those looking for a long-term attachment. Unfortunately, no one’s invented a tailless rat so you’re going to be stuck looking at that thing.

Perfect for: Price point and ease-of-care make rodents perfect for students, or busy families with one too many dogs already.

Cost: $6–$15

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