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Are the kids pestering you for a cat or dog, but you’re not up to the cost (and maintenance!) of those lovely pets?

Why not start with something a little simpler, like these six quirky, low maintenance pets that are sure not to “bug” you…sorry, I couldn’t resist.

We’ve listed them here in order of the effort required to raise them, from extremely easy to just a bit more effort.


Do you remember these from your childhood? I sure do. By far the easiest creatures on the list, these little guys (technically brine shrimp) also, unfortunately, pack the least punch.

They never quite live up to the hype advertised on the boxes they arrive in—they don’t do tricks, they aren’t actually little circus creatures, and you can’t train them to do anything. (But by all means, encourage your little ones to try—it’ll keep them occupied for at least a bit!)

Cost: $13.95

Timespan: Anywhere from 2 weeks to several months


Ants are a close second to sea monkeys in terms of easiness. You send away for them, they arrive, and….that’s it! They handle the rest. Watching them tunnel around can be both soothing and fascinating.

The link provided below is a two-step process: first you order the kit, and then redeem the enclosed coupon to another company that will ship the actual ants. (Amazon also has a variety of kits to choose from.) Just make sure they don’t get loose! Otherwise, you may have just bought yourself an accidental ant problem.

Cost: $24.99

Timespan: 2-4 weeks


Praying mantises are awesome (and a little creepy) but they start off really small, which is not as fun. If you’re patient, you can watch them grow into the beasts you’ve come to expect. Note that these are seasonal creatures, typically available from December to May, so make sure to check stock levels before you order.

Cost: $36.75

Timespan: 2-8 weeks, until they’re ready to be set free


Ladybugs are beautiful to look at, which maybe makes up for the fact that they don’t do much. They arrive as larvae complete with food and a habitat to raise them in. When they’ve lost their appeal, you can simply set them loose in your garden as natural pest control.

Cost: $27.99 – $32.99

Timespan: 2-3 weeks, until you’re ready to set them loose


These gorgeous beings are the classic choice for an introduction to insects for kids of all ages. The caterpillars are shipped straight to your door, alive and with everything you need to usher them through the 3-week metamorphosis into butterflies. Watch them transform from caterpillars to chrysalides, to beautiful butterflies – then set them free to pollinate our world!

Cost: $27.99 – $74.99

Timespan: 3 weeks, until you’re ready to set them loose


Of all the creatures on this list, beetles are the most long-term and “high maintenance” of all. However, if you’re looking for more of a project, they could be just the right fit for you! They are available in a wide variety of interesting species and are particularly popular in Japan, where stag beetles are the most coveted.

Cost: $5.99+, subject to availability

Timeline: Varies by species; generally around 12 months

If you decide to take the plunge on any of these critters, we’d love to hear about it! Share photos and stories of your adventures with us on Facebook. I’ll see you there!


Todd Stebleton is the owner and operator of Universal Pest Control, a family-owned business for over 25 years in Ormond Beach, Florida. He and his wife Natalie are proud to have built a company focused on conducting business with honesty and integrity: keeping customers first, protecting the environment, and providing trustworthy, personal service.

Universal: Honest, Environmentally Friendly Pest Control