Pet Cost Comparison

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One of the issues that many people face when they are thinking about buying a pet is, ‘what do they cost?’. The question really only begins with the purchase price. Often there are hidden costs everywhere when you buy any pet, and new owners often have no idea of what they’re letting themselves in for.

Burke’s Backyard looked at a range of different pets, from an insect or a fish, right through to cats and dogs. We evaluated average purchase prices, the cost of setting up an appropriate environment for the pet and the cost of maintaining the pet for the first year.

In calculating these figures, we’ve had to make many arbitrary decisions. However the costings are reasonably accurate in the average experience of most people and should be viewed as an approximation of the minimum cost of a pet over a year. Naturally, if one chose to not buy certain items for their pet, they could save money, but these figures account for the basic requirements of caring for a pet in a reasonable manner.

Siamese Fighting Fish: $62 (first year)

Purchase price: $10.00 for 1 fish
Setup: $20.00 (for a bowl and accessories)
Upkeep:  $32.00

Setup costs

Siamese Fighting Fish are often sold with a complete start up kit, including a bowl, gravel, fake plant, water conditioner and food.

Upkeep costs

Food:  $9.00
Dechlorinator:  $14.00
Bettafix medication:  $9.00

Insects: $127 (first year)

Purchase price:  $55.00 -$72.00
Setup:  $55.00
Upkeep:  $0.00 (leaves and branches are free)

The most common insects kept as pets are beetles, Giant Burrowing Cockroaches and Stick Insects.

Setup costs:

Complete starter kits are available from the Australian Insect Farm in Innisfail Qld.

Stick Insect Kit:  $55.00 (comes in a transport box but requires an approximate 2 ft. tank with a mesh cover, such as a fish tank).

Beetle Kit: $66.00 (includes two pairs, housing tank, substrate, food pack and fact sheet).

Giant Burrowing Cockroach Kit:  $72.00 (includes two pairs, housing tank, substrate, food pack and fact sheet).

Upkeep costs

Once the insects commence breeding, a larger tank may be required. Therefore the first year’s up-keep may include;

2 ft. fish tank:  $55.00

Goldfish: $165.00

Purchase price:  $8.00 (pair)
Setup:  $70.00
Upkeep:  $87.00

Set up costs
If setting up a standard fish bowl for two goldfish, accessories such as gravel, water conditioner, fake or real plants and food will need to be purchased.

Standard fish bowl:  $35.00
Gravel:  $7.00
Water conditioner:  $6.00
Stresszyme:  $9.00
Food:  $5.00
Plants:  $5.00 (real) – $8.00 (fake)

Upkeep costs

Food:  $15.00
Plants:  $55.00
Medication:  $17.00

Mice: $356.00 (first year)

Purchase price: $4.00 (pair)
Setup: $110.00
Upkeep: $242.00

Interestingly, although one may expect a couple of mice to be comparatively very cheap, this appears not to be the case.

Setup costs

Housing: $60.00 (Includes wheel, ladder, bedding area and plenty of room for up to 4 mice. More basic homes can be purchased for around $25.00 but accessories are not included).
Food: $4.00
Water bottle: $11.00
Treats: $15.00
Bedding: $4.00
Worming medication: $16.00
Upkeep costs Food: $70.00
Treats: $60.00
Bedding: $104.00
Fresh fruit and vegetables: $8.00

Zebra Finches: $388.00 (first year)

Purchase price: $16.00 (pair)
Setup: $166.00
Upkeep: $206.00

Setup costs

Suitable cage: $100.00 (45cm across by 35 cm deep comes with dowelling perch which is not recommended, and 2 food bowls)
Natural perch:  $9.00
2 additional bowls:  $10.00
Toy:  $7.00
Grit:  $5.00
Calcium bell or cuttlefish bone:  $4.00
Seed mix:  $9.00
Worming supplement:  $15.00
Small pack of millet seed on stem:  $7.00

Upkeep costs

Mite and lice spray:  $15.00
Seed mix:  $54.00
Grit:  $20.00
Millet seed:  $91.00
Calcium supplement:  $26.00

Budgie: $437.00 (first year)

Purchase price:  $16.00
Setup:  $150.00
Upkeep:  $271.00

Setup costs
Suitable cage:  $100.00
Natural perch:  $9.00
Toy:  $7.00
Calcium bell or cuttlefish bone:  $4.00
Seed mix:  $8.00
Worming supplement:  $15.00
Small pack of millet seed on stem:  $7.00

Upkeep costs
Mite and lice spray:  $15.00
Seedmix:  $104.00
Grit:   $20.00
Millet seed:  $91.00
Calcium supplement:  $34.00
Vitamin supplement (seed mix):  $7.00

Tropical Fish: $560.00 (first year)

Purchase price:  $20.00 (6 neon tetras)
Setup:  $349.00
Upkeep:  $191.00

Setup costs

Unlike Siamese Fighting Fish and Goldfish, tropical fish require heating. Water conditions must also be more closely monitored. A pH test kit is advised.  This is the basic cost of setup and maintenance of six neon tetras, a cheap variety of tropical fish. More specialised tropicals such as Discus will greatly increase the cost. Prices for specialised tropicals can set you back about $950 for an appropriate tank, a biological filtration system, heater, pH monitor, light and other specialised accessories.

60 litre (approx 2ft long) tank: $55.00
6 watt filter:  $70.00
(cheaper versions are available for around $30.00 but are not ideal and
may provide little savings in the long run).
20 watt light tube:  $25.00
Reflector: $65.00
Gravel:  $12.00
Water conditioner:  $30.00
Stresszyme:  $7.00
Plants:  $10.00
100 watt heater:  $38.00
pH test kit and adjuster:  $27.00
Tropical fish food:  $10.00

Upkeep costs

Food:  $40.00
Live plants:  $60.00
Medication:  $15.00

The filter, lights and heater all consume power and therefore attract extra expense. The following are approximate figures based on a general rule of thumb that one watt consumed is equal to one dollar per year (advice supplied by the National Appliance an Equipment Energy Efficiency Committee -NAEEEC).

6 watt filter:  $6.00
20 watt lights:  $20.00
100 watt heater:  $50.00 (this is an estimate assuming that the thermostat will account for a reduced consumption of power)

Cat: $850.00 (first year)

Purchase price: $150.00
Setup: $192.00
Upkeep: $508.00

Prices and ongoing cost will increase considerably if you are considering owning a cat or dog. The following are base prices and you could pay a lot more money than has been factored here. The purchase price of both cats and dogs will also vary much more than that of the other animals listed here; ranging from no cost at all for a cat or dog picked up from the ‘freebie’ section of many commercial newspapers or trading papers, to many hundreds, even thousands, of dollars for rare or pedigreed animals.

We have taken an arbitrary base figure for the purchase price of both a cat and dog, so this price will get you a reasonably well-bred animal. You will pay a lot more than we have factored in here for a pure bred cat or a pure bred dog. Equally, some varieties of dogs in particular are very expensive because they are bred specifically for the showring and irresponsible breeders may not concern themselves with the animal’s long term health. This can create extra expense as visits to the vet may occur more frequently. So sometimes buying that homeless kitten or perhaps even getting it for free, or buying a mongrel dog might be a much better choice. They are vastly cheaper to buy, sometimes free, and can be much cheaper to run because they may not get sick as often.

Set up costs

Food: $5.00 per week
Litter Tray:  $13.00
Litter:  $10.00 / month
Collars, tags and toys:  $20.00
Veterinary health check: $50.00
Feeding Bowls (2):  $14.00
Desexing (optional): $105.00 – $230.00 (depending on sex and size)
Vaccinations: $80.00 – $320.00 (depending on how many boosters are required).

These are minimum figures, assuming that only one vaccination is required and the cat is not desexed.

Upkeep Costs

Food: $255.00
Litter: $110.00
Flea treatment: $13.00
Microchipping: $30.00
Lifetime registration: $100.00 (cheaper if desexed)

Small Dog:: $1450 (first year)

Purchase price:  $250.00
Setup:  $264.00
Upkeep:  $936.00

Setup Costs

Food:  $7.00 per week
Kennel:  $70.00
Collars, tags and toys:  $35.00
Veterinary health check:  $50.00
Feeding bowls (2):  $22.00
Desexing (optional):  $250.00 – $270.00 (depending on sex and size)
Vaccinations:  $80.00 – $320.00 (depending on how many boosters are required).

These are minimum figures, assuming that only one vaccination is required and the dog is not desexed. A further booster vaccination is required each year.

Up-keep Costs

Food: $375.00
Flea treatment: $51.00
Microchipping: $30.00
Lifetime registration: $100.00 (cheaper if desexed)
Obedience Training: $250-$500 (around $50.00 per session)
Boarding: $15.00-$25.00 per day
Professional grooming: $50.00-$100.00 per session

These figures assume that five obedience training sessions are required, plus two grooming sessions and two night’s boarding.
Further information

These figures have been complied with the assistance of breeders, breed directories, the Burke’s Backyard Guide to Pets, veterinary clinics, retail outlets and pet stores.

The Australian Insect Farm
P.O Box 26 Innisfail Qld. 4860
Phone: (07) 4063 3860

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