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Household Pets for the Common Geek? 186

Posted by Cliff
from the seeking-unobtrusive-companionship dept.
batobin asks: "I just moved into my first apartment that allows pets, and am looking forward to finally getting some sort of animal companion. My question to the Slashdot community is this: are there any pets out there that are especially conducive to a nerdish personality/lifestyle? I was looking into hedgehogs before I found out they're illegal in my state, but ferrets are starting to look fun too. Which pets are especially trainable? Which will be entertained by (yet not intrusive upon) a typist with a flashing screen in front of them? Is cable-gnawing an issue? Something tells me I can do better than simply a dog or a cat."
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Household Pets for the Common Geek?

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  • Fish (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tim_F (12524)
    I've always really liked fish. And they are really geeky. Easy to take care of, and the don't take up much space. A good time for all involved!
    • by Parsec (1702)

      Not to mention that you can do all sorts of neat things with underwater lights, air pumps, and hoses. Heck, who needs fish, it's just fun to set up the gadgets in the aquarium!

    • The perfect geek fish are Betas... cool looking, easy to take care of, and a geek can spend from $10/month to easily $500/month of them! What's more geekier than a fish that can breathe air? A dog with gills??

      http://www.aquariumfish.net/catalog_pages/bettas /b etta_more.htm

      http://beta-fighting-fish.com/

      Plus, any true geek will love the name!
  • by egg troll (515396) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @01:25PM (#3833533) Homepage Journal
    If penguins were legal to own, could there be any other obvious choice. :)
  • by MarkusQ (450076) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @01:26PM (#3833534) Journal

    If you are looking to make a commitment I would recommend a few sugar gliders [skinhorse.net]. They are very fun, but they do bond to their owners and live for many years, so they aren't a good choice if you're just dabbling with the idea of pets. They are also communal, so you should get at least two.

    As always, a simple web seearch will turn up lots more information.

    -- MarkusQ

    • Thanks for the info, those look cool!

      Unfortunately, it is illegal to even own them in some states, notably California.

      Speaking of that, does anyone know if it's still illegal to own gerbils in California?

      Back in 1984, my family and I were moving from Texas to Oregon. I had a pair of gerbils (which make GREAT pets as far as small rodents go BTW -- much better than hamsters). We were going to go through CA to see relatives. But when we got to the CA agriculture inspection point at Needles, they freeking told us gerbils weren't allowed in the state and gave us a scary looking paper with big letters "WANTED" on top, with a big picture of a gerbil, "Gerbils Are Destructive Pests", and a long description of why they are so evil. They were really going to confiscate them, and my dad was gracious enough to drive us through Nevada instead! And if that weren't bad enough, the CA agriculture cronies put out a statewide alert for our vehicle in case we tried to enter through another point of entry!!!
    • They are cute, but they look extremely hazard prone. All the posts about having to plan your life for the next 15 years around your two glider (can't get just one, they'll be depressed), watching over them constantly because they are small, fragile and keep getting into things that are dangerous for them. A pet that can be seriously injured by a sock sounds like a ton of work.

      I have to admit, reading those pages I'm glad I have a cat. He's smart, fast, and I don't have to babyproof the house.

      • watching over them constantly because they are small, fragile and keep getting into things that are dangerous for them. A pet that can be seriously injured by a sock sounds like a ton of work.

        I have to admit, reading those pages I'm glad I have a cat. He's smart, fast, and I don't have to babyproof the house.

        I suspect those people are a little over the top. Our gliders are quite bright, and seem to be able to handle themselves well enough. We have a cage for them to sleep in (they're day sleepers, which is another plus for nerd pets, IMHO), but they also get to come out and play quite frequently.

        I have a friend with three and also serveral cats. Initially, the cats seemed to be thinking "Hmmm, those little critters look like they'd make a good snack," until the big tom decided to check out the possibility.

        He started stalking, and as soon as the glider in question saw him, he (the glider) puffed himself up and started towards the cat (~50 times his mass) striding sort of like an old-west gunfighter. The cat stopped, looked confused. The glider kept going until he was a few inches from the cat.

        They peered at each other.

        The cat stuck out one paw, cautiously, as if to swat at the glider. The glider leaped onto the cats head and started biting his ears.

        The cat ran, flipping his head from side to side until the glider jumped off. The glider then went back to what he'd been doing and they've pretty much left each other alone since.

        -- MarkusQ

      • About how fragile sugar gliders are (taken from this site [buffnet.net]:

        Although sugar gliders are healthy and hardy animals, their physical structure is small and delicate although their skulls seem to be very dense when considering the way they bounce themselves off trees many times head first. Thus, they are NOT a suitable pet for very young children, who like to squeeze the animals that they love best.

        I don't think a sock could hurt them, but they're still pretty delicate creatures.
    • Sugar gliders look cool, but they have some downsides [buffnet.net].

      The biggest one for me is:
      Gliders are also incontinent and urinate and defecate on you without thinking about it - I have only ever heard of one person who managed to toilet train their glider.

      I draw the line when my pet defecates on me. Especially in this case, because they do it to show they trust you...
      • They're not "incontinent", but like many small animals, they do piss and poop when and where they feel like it. But really, it's not that bad. They're small enough that they don't produce very much at all, so when you get peed or pooped on you can just set the glider down and wash yourself off with some soap and water.
        • I dunno. Still kind of a turn off, I guess. Potty training an animal isn't just so I don't get crapped on. It's also a challenge, and a source of pride (when it works).

          We have a guide dog puppy in the family, and one of the things we have to teach it is how to go to the bathroom on command. You simply find a suitable spot and say, "Do your business." The dog then squats, right on the spot, and does it.

          Go over to the neighbor's house...say the magic words. :)
    • That's actually my mom's website you linked to. We've had gliders around the house ever since I was a kid, and they're awesome little creatures. If you're worried about them getting lonely, you can get a little drawstring pouch (or just use a shirt pocket if you don't mind it getting pooped in) and carry them around with you.

      They're fragile creatures, but as long as you don't squash them or play too roughly with them, they'll be fine. Although yes, they do require a fair amount of commitment (though my mom somehow manages to take care of a house full of parrots and gliders at the same time, as well as several cats and a corn snake).

  • IMHO nothing beats a good dog.
  • great. no fur (i'm allergic), will scare the crap out of people, and it's a cat (which is da bomb). image here [andoveranimal.com]
  • I have to voice my personal preference for small rodents. My GF and I picked out a cute little russian hamster about two months ago and I'm quite smitten with the furry little creature. And I have to say that having a pet with the same schedule (nocturnal) is a boon. We've got him a hamster-ball and he takes great joy in doing laps around the living room and the rest of the house.
    Plan on a 2-year life span and expect to clean out the cage 1-2 times a week. He's a great little furry companion [hotspankingchicks.com] and he also enjoys chess. What more can you ask for in a geek-friendly pet.

    No matter what you decide, make sure that you understand what you're getting into and are willing to make the commitment to a creature that for better or worse, will be dependant on you for the rest of it's life. Ask questions, choose wisely, and don't forget, there is a special hell for people who neglect their pets.
    • Re:hamsters! (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Hamsters are very cool. Gerbils are another alternative.

      The bad thing, not due to the animal itself but human stupidity, is you'll get a lot of jokes and strange stares if you mention you have one. Undeservingly, but be aware if you have somewhat lesser confidence in yourself, peer pressure, sexual and gender identity, etc. Easy way to identify friends who are sickos though.

      The one somewhat advantage is that gerbils tend to be a little more friendly during the gray hours (evenings, early mornings) than hamsters. I send tend, because small animals individually have their own qwirks, as I've seen hamsters that have no problem at times traditionally considered more hands off.

      The one disadvantage is that you have to handle gerbils (and presumably most animals) early on, otherwise, you won't be able to hold it in your hand or let it run on your carpet (enclosed space) without it going nuts. The one I have current was abandoned, so I took it in. It took about 4 months before it got used to me and I to it, but it's very friendly. But I have never been able to handle it comfortably without it going a bit nuts that I've given up on that aspect.

      Excellent get home, play with animal. Low maintenance. Quiet with some activity at night (rearranges cage bedding). Good typing companion and thing to watch during a coffee break during a late night or early morning coding session. Very low odor, esp. if you maintain the cage, and even if you don't, not bad (from experience during the abandoned to time I took it in transition).

      Hamsters (high school friend years back raised russian dwarfs) are great, and cuter, imo. Gerbils, less cute, but less irritated during grey hours with you.
    • by Micah (278)
      Agreed with above AC. Gerbils are MUCH better than hamsters!

      Gerbils are originally from the Mongolian desert, and therefore are much more efficient and emit less waste, and you can tell. You can get away without changing gerbil cage bedding for more than a month before it really starts to stink, though once every 2 or 3 weeks might be better. Hamsters need to be changed every 1 or 2 weeks. Mice are HORRIBLE -- if you don't change their litter for ONE week they smell like CR@P!

      Gerbils are also tamer than hamsters. I've been bitten by them, but that is very rare after they got used to me. If you tame them right they will sit happily in your hand for a long time when they age and let you stroke their backs! I've never had a hamster of my own, but the ones I've seen are much more aggressive than gerbils.

      Another option might be rats. I'm thinking of getting a rat someday. They are smart, and not nearly as dirty as most people think they are.
  • by Apreche (239272)
    You really can't get more geeky than the Macintosh 512K fish tank. I forget the site for it though.
  • I have had a rabbit or two, although I didn't keep them in the house, I have heard they can be house trained, and are rather nice loveable little things. If they get mad, they can nip rather hard though.

    Also, what about a parakeet (or budgie, depending on what part of the world you live in). They are generally good natured, and you can teach them to talk if you have enough patience. I used to have one that sat on my monitor and would look upside down at it.

    Perhaps a dog, depending on the size of your apartment. Rescue a grey hound from a your local racing gray hound rescue shelter. They are medium sized relaxed dogs, but need to go for a quick run once a day or so. Also, if you get a dog, crate train them, you place them in their crate overnight, and they sleep, and won't crap in it.

    If you get a cat, get the fattest laziest one you can find. I have 2 cats. One is up all night creating messes and hardly sleeps, and the other sleeps on my bed 23 out of 24 hours a day, and the other hour she is on my lap purring.

    • "They are medium sized relaxed dogs, but need to go for a quick run once a day or so."

      You're suggesting a "common geek" go for a quick run on a daily basis? Only if the greyhound comes with a Segway!
    • I agree!! A Rabbit is a Geeks best friend, they can be litter trained, they don't want to lay on the keyboard like a cat, and most of the time they don't mark your tower case like a dog will.

      They don't eat much DASD, only the cables that are in their way, so I block off all my computer cables with a pen.

      They always eat all their veggies, including the ones you don't wanna eat. They can be loving on their terms, mine love to lay next to me and get petted or groomed.

      All in all, a rabbit is a nice house pet to have.

      Just look at one of mine! He's not eaten any of my Midrange!!
      http://members.cox.net/kyootfox/George Rabbit.jpg

      But before anyone gets a bunny, read up on them, they can be a handfull...
      http://www.rabbit.org
    • Rabbits make bad pets, all they do is produce large amounts of rather noxious shit.
    • I've heard/read rabbits like to chew on electrical cords.

    • Yes, they can eat and snip cords, that's why you protect them with "wraps". That protects the cord, the rabbit and looks cool when you have a bunch of black tubes all over the place! Think "Golden Age Of Wireless" by T.Dolby

      As for the noxious feces, actualy they are rather good about that, and what misses the litter box is easy to pickup with a dustbuster or hand. They make little poops, like CoCo Puffs, just don't get the two mixed up. As for urine, with any animal that uses a litter box, you must change the box often. I change my two boxes every two to three days.

      The worse thing is when your rabbit gets sick, which they can do quite quickly. But for someone that cares for their furry critter, it's easy to spot early on.

      I love all 4 of my bunnies, they are sweet, loving, and great to watch when I am programming.

      IMHO they are the greatest critters I've had the honor to live with me. { And I've had some unique ones... Ferrets, Skunk, Raccoons, Crow, Frogs, Lizards, Cats, Dogs }

      George next to the AS400 [cox.net]
      My George Bunny [imagestation.com]
      My Brown Bunnies, Lego & Collette [imagestation.com]
  • One word... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WolfWithoutAClause (162946) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @02:11PM (#3833770) Homepage
    Aibo. Obviously!
  • by tongue (30814) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @02:14PM (#3833785) Homepage
    if you're just looking for a fixture around the apartment, go with something like a guinea pig or a fish... ferrets stink. literally. i mean, given that you're on slashdot, your chances of getting a girl to voluntarily come over are already halved, but if you do by some miracle score one for the home team, ferret-stink is a big turn-off.

    if you're really looking for a companion with some personality, go with a cat, or to a lesser extent, a dog... personally, i'm a dog kinda guy, but its hard to find a good sedate breed of dog that won't get in your way while coding. if you do opt for a dog, definitely get obedience training. its indispensible for any dog owner, coder or not.
    • I'd have to disagree with this completly - I had a ferret for 5 years. While they do haave a slight musk odor, it's very manageble. The trick to so bath their bedding often, but the ferret not at all. Bathing the ferret causes the production of the oil that gives off the musk scent (food can affect this too). There are many books on ferrets that go into more detail.

      My ferret was the most playful, enjoyable pet I ever had. They sleep most of the time, but shen they're awake, they do nothing but play. Hide and seek was Rascal's favorite game - she would hide behind the refridgerator - and then poke her head out. When you would say "boo", she'd scamper back. It was more fun that it sounds (they have a very funny lope - they run with their back arched)

      Ferrets are very communal - best to have 2 or more. They also will develop a specific sleep schedule based on when you are available to play (less so if there are 2 or more) - so it's nice if you can devote the same time of each day to play with them. They sleep darn near 20 hours/day.

      Ferret's can be house trained just like cats(but read up on the best types of litter to use).

      I'd have a ferret now if the morons in the Ca. senate didn't have their heads up their ass - they can't tell the diff between the european ferret (domesticated for about 2000 years) and the wild ferrets of No. America.

      Hope ths helps

  • Rats! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fweeky (41046) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @02:24PM (#3833828) Homepage
    They're small, fluffy, cute, clean, affectionate, cheap, intelligent, trainable, and easy to look after.

    They only disadantage is they don't live very long (sucks getting attached to one and have it die within 2-3 years), and they will knaw through cables and clothes if you're not careful.

    They'll sit on your shoulder while you work, can be trained to come when called, will sit while you stroke them, and come in a wide variety of sizes and colours :)
  • As a cat owner, I resent the comment at the end of the submission. Apparently the original submitter is against cats and dogs because they are more mainstream pets, and therefore are not ideal "nerd" pets.

    In fact, I have found cats to be ideal for the nerd lifestyle. They require a minimum of maintance and require little attention.

    I have also found that cats are very fond of lounging on top of CRT monitors during late night sessions. My cat has never forgiven me for getting my 17" LCD.

    Cats have plenty of personality and tend to be fairly reclusive. Smell is a minimum, as well.
    • I agree in the fact that cast are the best geek pet, as well as the best animal that have ever been in a human dwelling, as well as... ok, my own cat has left my monitor, so I can stop :)

      It is also true that they require minimum manteinance, but the "little attention" part is not always true and depends much on personality and habits of the single cat: some of them may just see you when they have to eat, so they require almost no attention, while other may become very esigent, expecially when you're doing something that is obviously useless, like, well, almost everything that doesn't involve them directly.

      For the CRT part, I've noticed that cats tend to love computers, probably because of the heat or because they actually are geeks. Since I've gently asked my cat not to sleep on my modem (because of his hairs - actual method used involved an empty bottles barrier between the modem and the rest of the home :) ) she decided that the space in front of the keyboard is just perfect for her naps, expecially when I'm trying to type, also because she actually gets some chances to write her own opinions (or because I tend to scratch her ears while I'm thinking what to write next).

      Cats are also a good choice in apartments, as they don't smell and they aren't noisy (except when something falls in the opposite side of the building from the one they are in :) ); you should only take care that they can have some space to exercise, either horizontally or vertically.

      Anyway, most of the cats I know tend to agree on the fact that a geek is a good pet for them, so a cat is probably a good idea.

    • Re:Cat... (Score:5, Informative)

      by renehollan (138013) <rhollan&clearwire,net> on Saturday July 06, 2002 @03:18PM (#3834050) Homepage Journal
      I second this, even though you appear to want an "exotic" pet. Cats are low maintenance: provide food, water, and a litter box, and there ya go. Sure, cleaning the litter box is a hassle, but there are some self-cleaning boxes out there. Surely, those would appeal to a geek (presumably cats don't mind them).

      More exotic pets, partucularly rodents, can get expensive: My daughter begged and begged for a "pet of her own" and we thought it would help teach her some responsibility. We ended up getting her a guinea pig. BIG mistake: the cage requires daily cleaning; the litter and food and expensive. The damn little rodent costs WAY more in food and litter than our cat. And a guinea pig isn't exactly exotic.

      I mentioned a cat earlier. Now, I grew up with a dog -- a rather likable English Setter that lived to the ripe old age of around 18. I like dogs. But dogs need to be walked (some small species can be trained to do their business on newspaper in the garage, but the smell remains long after the excrement has been removed), and I've always thought it cruel to have a dog and not live somewhere where they can run and play in big open places. Cats are quite happy to live indoors, and some species can be trained to not roam. Persians are good for this, but you will have to deal with their long hair, shedding, and trips to the groomer 2-4 times a year to have them shaved (yeah, the hair gets that long, and perioding shaving is necessary). I've had a long-haired Persian cat for almost 10 years now. No regrets. It even adapted well to three moves in that time (apartment to house, to house, to house)

      • I second this, even though you appear to want an "exotic" pet.

        Rene, I agree with your "read" of the poster's intent, and I'm pleased you added the always prudent "appear" to your statement since it's not clear what the poster wants/needs in a pet. I thought your post was great. Hopefully that will cause the poster to think twice about the pros and cons of exotic pets.

        My first thought when I read the poster's topic was what exactly does s/he mean by "Something tells me I can do better than simply a dog or a cat." What does better mean? Apparently an animal that fits in with the poster's nerdish personality/lifestyle, but that doesn't tell us much. I'm a little concerned that the poster's intent may be to get an animal that s/he can show off to his/her friends as an example of what a counter-culture, eccentric-genius, think-outside-the-box kind of guy s/he is. The comment about ferrets looking "fun" troubles me. Perhaps it's because I've seen way too many hippies who think that owning one of these is a great way to advertise your non-mainstreamness. Again, I don't know poster batobin so all we can do is guess what his/her criteria for a pet is.

        I sincerely hope that batobin knows what is important to them in a pet even if s/he chose not to let us in on the secret. And for the record, I believe that cats make great nerd pets. If you're concerned about them fooling with your computer equipment, just put that stuff in a offlimits-to-Kitty-room.

        GMD

        • Regarding ferrets: they are nice, but high-maintenance. I have friends who've had ferrets. Somehow, "high maintenance" and "geek" don't seem to go along. That's why I suggested a cat.

          Part of the problem is animals that are "cool", yet cruel or impractical to keep as pets. I like big cats, for example, as in cheetas. You can't tame them, they are an endangered species, and unless you can properly provide for their needs (and meet all applicable laws), it's pretty much criminal to have one.

          OTOH, I knew a friend who had a cougar as a pet. Tame as could be at home. Of course it roamed at night, and the neighbors turned him in when one too many domestic cats wound up dead. Poor thing wound up in a zoo. It deserved to be free, but alas, it liked to rest with humans.

          Now, I will say that seeing a wild animal in it's natural habitat (deer, fox, wolf, bear, raccoon) is certainly a pleasure [and catching a glimpse of a brown bear is damn hard], and definately exciting.

        • If you're concerned about them fooling with your computer equipment, just put that stuff in a offlimits-to-Kitty-room.

          That might be cruel to both pet and human, since by definition, the nerd would need to spend a lot of time in the 'computer room', away from their companion. Besides, Real Nerds(tm) can't limit their lifestyles and gear to one room. Roaming laptops, servers, cabling, PDAs, Gameboys, Lego, remote controls, board games, dice, etc. Be aware of small toys and choking hazards! Geez, this sounds a lot like gettind ready for a newborn!
    • Seriously, my cat show more genuine affection for me than any rodent I've ever owned - I used to keep guinea pigs. She'll sit on my lap while I work or watch tv, she walks in front of my monitor to be scratched (well, nobody's perfect) and she bats at the screen when I play video games - I think she likes Asteroids more than I do. So we have common interests, and she's not needy, like a guinea pig - as someone else mentioned, cats take care of themselves. They don't need you, but they choose to associate with you, and that makes them great pets.

      In addition, cats are obsessive about cleanliness. That's good - means less dander floating into your boxen.
  • I've got 2..when I am busy with the computer, they entertain each other...
    they are also amused by x-roaches.
  • but ferrets are starting to look fun too. Which pets are especially trainable? Which will be entertained by (yet not intrusive upon) a typist with a flashing screen in front of them? Is cable-gnawing an issue?

    I know several people with ferrets (Including my mother in law).

    Ferrets are very cute and very fun, but they don't meet all of your criteria. They are difficult to train to to tricks, they are pretty dirty animals (They don't potty train very well, and often prefer to poop in a dark corner vs in a bed of kitty litter), play with and chew cables (My mother-in-law had one that kept chewing through hot electrical wires), they do not enjoy cages, and they are hyper hyper hyper... nonstop nocturnal action. They do like to cuddle with you, but they are also libel to pee and poop on your bed while you are sleeping.

    Also note that ferrets are master escape artists, so if you do get one, make sure that ferral ferrets won't threaten indiginous bird populations in your area [google.com] (Which is why ferrets are illegal in California & Hawaii, and should remain illegal according to the Audubon Society, the Waterfowl Association, and The Sierra Club).

    Something tells me I can do better than simply a dog or a cat."

    Don't disregard a dog or cat simply because they are common pets. There are hundreds of millions of dog & cat owners in the world, with good reason: dogs & cats are (usually) intelligent, clean, easy to train, and very loving animals.

    • All right. I read this post and had a shit fit. This person either has ZERO clue or is a member of one of the above mentioned organizations who for some silly reason are extremely against ferrets.

      First off, you need to understand that there are 2 types of Ferret. There is the domestic ferret that has been around for more than a thousand years. As an example, Queen Elizabeth I, raised ferrets and gave them away as gifts. You can see other examples here [doctorbeer.com].

      The other type of ferret is the North American Black Footed Ferret. This is the wild version and is illegal to own because it is an endangered species. [bagheera.com] It is also "the rarest native mammal in the United States...".

      Yes, in California and Hawaii, they are illegal. However, according to various reports,(none of which I can find right now) there are no "Feral" Ferret populations in the USA. I will find the reports and post a response. Also, Domestic Ferrets are legal in all continental states including Alaska, and excepting California.

      I don't have documentation concerning cable chewing but I will find it. From personnal experience, I have zero problems with my ferrets chewing on cables. I have network cables, power cables, video cables and other stuff laying all about and the majority of them are hot. I have yet to find a breaker tripped and a crispied critter attached to anything.

      Let's start listing some facts....

      1. Ferrets are very litter box trainable. In fact they are very fastidious about using the litter box. The only times that they miss are if the boxes haven't been scooped or if they are 2 far away from one. The reason for this is that the ferret intestinal tract is very short (usually about 3 to 4 hours) and they normally need to go to the box as soon as they wake up. So let them do their thing and THEN play with them. Now, to be honest there is a draw back. You will need many litter boxes depending on the size of your home. My lady and I live in a condo that is 1045sq ft and we have 12 litter boxes for 6 ferrets. We had 9 at one time hence that number of litter boxes. If you have a small apartment then I would recommend about 4-5 boxes.

      2. Ferrets are not hard to train. Simply look at all the movies and commercials they have been in. Beast Master (Movie and series), Kindergarten Cop, Dr. Dolittle 2*, Doritos.. Just to name a few. Also, Everything Ferret [everythingferret.com] has very good articles on house training ferrets.

      3. As to the question of cages, I know from personnal experience that ferrets do not mind cages at all. Now understand that you can't just toss a ferret in an empty cage and expect it to be happy. This is your pet not a convict. Put bedding, blankets, toys and what not in there to keep them happy. A couple good books to read are "Ferrets" by Dr. Wendy Winsted, TFH Publications and "Ferrets: A complete Owners Guide" by Chuck and Fox Morton, published by Barron's. Also,see the links at the end of this post for more information.

      4. Ferrets are neither Nocturnal(awake at night) or Diurnal(awake during the day). They sleep 14-18 hours a day and, from personnal experience, they adjust to your schedule. PetSmart has a wonderfull section about ferrets here [petsmart.com].

      5. Anytime Humans attempt to control their environment disaster normally results. Prime example is here [forest-bird.org.nz]. New Zealand does have a ban on ferrets. The primary problem they had there was that there were no natural predators. But I digress.

      This post could go on and on. The bottom line is do your research. Ferrets DO make wonderfull pets but as with any animal, preparations must be made and a certain amount of knoweledge must be gathered. Go to your favorite search engine and type in Ferret. If I have missed anything (probably alot) post it and let me know!

      Ferrets Anonymous [ferretsanonymous.com]

      The National Ferret Welfare Society [ntlworld.com]

      The American Ferret Association [ferret.org]

      Richard Bach (who owns ferrets), author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, has written two books about Ferrets. Air Ferrets Aloft and Rescue Ferrets at Sea. Go here [simonsays.com] and type Ferrets in the search.

      And yes, there is a Ferret Cam! [extremeweezils.com]

      * Dr. Dolittle 2 referred to the ferret as a weasel. However it was a ferret. Weasels are much harder to train and have a nasty temper.

      • However, according to various reports,(none of which I can find right now) there are no "Feral" Ferret populations in the USA.

        But according to the State of California ferrets can establish ferral populations [ca.gov], and have done so in New Zealand & the UK, among other places.

        The Center for Exotic Pest Research at UC Davis said if ferret ownership was to become legal, there is a "high risk" of feral populations.

        Groups like Ferets Anonymous say that Ferets cannot survive in the wild and grow in population. This does not make sense. All other domesticated animals; Cats, dogs, rabbits, rats, cows, and even parrots, can and have established feral populations. But some magical force prevents ferrets from breeding outside of a human house? That doesn't add up.

        Domestic Ferrets are legal in all continental states including Alaska, and excepting California.

        California & Hawaii also have the most to protect.
        California has more native plants an animals then any other state, and the second highest percentage of surving native species (Hawaii is first) (Sorry, can't find a link, and I've sold my biology texts).

        Indiginous animal populations are already threatened by feral housecats, feral ferrets would only threaten more species.

        Tell me, when it comes to protecting the environment, who do you trust more: The Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the California Department of Fish & Game, and UC Davis ; or Ferrets Anonymous?
  • Not ferrets. They do too much ferreting.
  • by seann (307009)
    your a geek, not an idiot

    how about a good old cat or dog.
  • They are cute, ooze personality, are very friendly and "talkative," and what other animal is so closely associated with science? The only problem is that they are prodigious poop producers, so get a cage that is easy to clean. Also, get a short hair, as they are easier to care for (no grooming and less shedding).
    I agree about the hedgehog, though. Someday I'll get one...
    :Peter
  • If you get a cat, be prepared to tell your friend "ACK! Sorry, cat on keyboard."
  • If you really want to be truely nerdy setup a mini reef tank, about 20 gallons. It is pretty simple to maintain and is most certainly geeky (you built and maintianed a small ecosystem in you apartment). Or a simple solution is get a cat, assuming you get a good one they play with you, but don't require any where near as much trouble as a dog or ferret.
  • Consider a cat... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tm2b (42473) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @03:00PM (#3833979) Journal
    ...and toilet train [amazon.com] it.

    No shit, I trained mine 5 years ago and it's been great. She uses the toilet in the spare bathroom and neither of us have to worry about all the indignities of a dirty litter box.

    Do not try to train it to flush, though. Seems that if you do this they decide that they love it and go and flush the toilet whenever they're bored...
  • ...hermit crabs!

    Ok so they're not all that affectionate, but they are kind of fun sometimes. Given them some rocks, a good bowl of water, some hermit crab food & an apple, a few spare shells that are a little bigger than they (REALLY IMPORTANT), and leave them alone or watch them! I defy anyone to come up with a pet that requires less maintenance!

    The beauty of it is that you can play with them when (and ONLY when) you want to. It is rather fun to let them walk around on you. :-)

    And they are quiet too. No barks or meows early in the morning, no re-arranging cage bedding or running on a squeaky excercise wheel at 4AM.
  • by Sentry21 (8183) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @03:16PM (#3834036) Journal
    Some of these tips might not apply now, but they are good to keep in mind in the long run.
    • Keep small pets. Pets like cats, and anything smaller, are good for this. The reason is cost. Food for a large dog will cost you a ton compared to a half-tin of cat food a day and a bag of dry food every two weeks.
    • Keep low-maintenance pets. Cats are reasonably good for this, as long as you remember to let them in and out (if applicable), and remember to change their litter and feed them. They'll mostly stay out of your way if they're loners, and if they're sucky (friendly, suck-up, lovey) cats, they'll gladly sit in your lap, where you can pet them with one hand and browse slashdot with the other.
    • In a ground floor apartment, you can have any pet you want. In anything above the 1 1/2th floor, or anything above the 3rd floor that doesn't have a huge tree just outside the patio/window, you need an indoor pet, or a 'companion' pet. Cats are bad for this (unless you have the tree), since once you get outside, they'll take off, and you'll have to wait for hours for them to come back so you can open the door. Dogs are better for this, since you walk them and then go home with them. Problem is, you have to walk them, it's not an option.
    • Don't go exotic. It might seem 'cool' or 'geeky' to have an exotic pet, but when it gets sick and the vets are clueless, when the only petstore around that carries food for it closes up, when you move to a no-pets apartment and have to get rid of it, it can be a pain in the ass.
    • Don't get a bird. Either you let it fly around the apartment and crap on everything, or you lock it up in a cage, which is cruel. The best case you could hope for is one that's happy in a cage, in which case it'll sing and whistle at you, which can make concentrating or sleeping somewhat difficult.
    I'm a cat person myself, I've almost never not had a cat, but I'm also aware of how much work it takes to care for a cat, and a lot of pets take more work to manage. Be very careful. Ask your local petstore, or as many local petstores as you can find. Ask friends, family, coworkers what kinds of pets they have or have had, and what it takes to take care of them. Get as much info as you can, not just from slashdot. No one here knows enough about your personal habits to give you proper information, only suggestions.

    And lastly, once you decide on a pet, go to the SPCA or the local animal shelter. Don't buy from a petstore when there are poor things sitting locked in cages for who knows how long, up until they have to be killed to put them out of everyone's misery.

    --Dan
  • by battjt (9342) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @03:17PM (#3834046) Homepage
    Something tells me I can do better than simply a dog or a cat.

    [This sounds like a sickly competitive statement.]

    Dogs and cats have millenia of domestication backing them up. If you want a trainable animal, this seems like a no brainer. My dog knows all sorts of things.

    - "Let's take a nap" and Belle runs up stairs.
    - "MOVE!" and Belle avoids being kicked and gets out of my way.
    - "Treat!" and she pays more attention to me.
    - "Truck", "Clancy", "go", and she gets excited to go in the truck to Mom and Dad's to play with Clancy.
    - "Get in the truck" and she jumps into the back of the truck.
    - all of the standards, "sit", "down", "paw", "rollover", "stay"
    - "other paw" and she'll shake with the other paw...
    = "Outside?" and she'll go to the door if she wants out, otherwise she'll just stair at you.
    - When let in from outside, Belle used to check out the living room for visitors, not she checks out the high chair for dropped food.

    Dogs are only fun when well trained. Training is a physical activity. There is no negotiating with a dog. The dog has to know that it is at the bottom of the pack (below children) and may at times need reminders.

    Mixed breed dogs are more robust and smarter. I'd look for a young dog at the pound.

    Dogs are also a 20 year commitment, but can be well worth it.

    Joe
  • Something tells me I can do better than simply a dog or a cat."
    If you want simple companionship, you can't do better than a cat. Dogs are OK, but they need lots of attention -- nothing sadder than a dog that spends all its life on somebody's back porch.

    If you just need to have an animal that hangs around looking cool, get some kind of reptile. Very low maintenance.

    Rats are interesting. But a little too smart for their own good. And they don't live very long.

    I've often wanted a ferret. But they're illegal where I live. Probably require more care than I can provide.

    The ultimate extreme pet. Somebody in Siberia managed to breed a de-feralized fox. Hoping to create a fur animal that easier to raise than wild foxes. Unfortunately, the de-feralized ones don't have market-quality coats. But they're still beautiful as hell.

  • wtf? (Score:3, Troll)

    by simnick (264282) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @03:37PM (#3834121)
    i can't believe the inane questions that people ask on slashdot these days... "is this geeky enough?" "what would be geekier?" "could you please define my life for me?" "help me, i have no personal identity!" "*whine*"

    seriously. people! "nerdish" "geeky"... if you are you are. if you aren't and you're asking slashdot how you CAN be... ehhhh, you need help, but not from us.
    • I was just curiuos about pet ideas. Is that a crime? I've been interested in a ferret, but haven't talked to anybody with my living style. The posts from this thread have been very useful to me.

      Stop telling other people what to do.
      • i haven't told anyone what to do.

        i just found it a bit much to say "hi, here is my lifestyle in a word. you all who presumably also identify with this word, what do you think is the pet that corresponds with this word?"
      • i have a cat that i really like. cats are pretty low-maintenance and have a well-established user base (== lots of available accessories already on the market, documentation online etc)

        i don't think cats are particularly more or less nerdish/geeky/etc than any other pets tho...
        • O.K. Actually, despite all the exotic ideas passed around, I'm leaning towards a nice lap cat. It sure would be less hassle than a llama! :)
          • Brian,

            As you already seem to be considering a cat, here's a few words from a cat lover:

            • Cats vary greatly in temperament. If you go for a purebred, be sure to avoid the more active breeds like e.g. the Maine Coon. These animals are not suited for small apartments. Of course, a moggie from the local animal shelter will be a complete crapshoot as to its temperament. You might think to end up with a nice lapcat, and instead you might become the proud property* of a serial mouse murderer that prowls the apartment the whole night.
            • Another part of a cats temperament is how talkative it will be. A slight drop of Siamese (or even a purebred) will talk the ears off of your head. Trust me, my flatmate has one of those, and they can be really irritating when they insist on getting attention. OTOH, a friend of mine has a purebred Persian that is very quiet, just a little low-key meow when the guys enter for our weekly D&D night is all she ever does.
            • Another thing to watch out for is how the cat reacts to strangers. Some are extremely picky, to the point of actually assaulting strangers that try to pet them. Of course, these are usually very attached to the humans they actually live with (I used to have one of those). The aforementioned Persian on the other hand just loves attention, and she gets plenty of it during our D&D nights.
            • Cats are nocturnal predators, but they are most active just after dusk, or just before dawn. Great if you're in the habit of doing nightly coding sessions, less so if you want to sleep and you're not an early riser. Sooner or later kitty will find out the sure way to get you out of your bed, either to get some attention, or to get you to prepare some food.
            • Finally, the one constant in cat behaviour is that they are relatively independent animals. Some may require a little more attention than others, but they all share the same characteristic: if they want to do something, they damn well will do it. It is very hard to teach a cat that you don't want it to do some things. If it's something you really don't want your cat to do, the proper way to teach the cat is to lightly tap it with one or two fingers just behind the ears as it is in the midst of its transgression (punishment after the fact is ineffective). This is the way a mother punishes her kittens, so this should state very clearly to the cat that this is in fact forbidden behaviour. A mother will actually hit harder than just a light tap, but it is the location which matters. A cat will associate a boxed ear with punishment, and even though you may have to repeat it a few times, it will eventually learn. Alternatively, for some cats just saying 'No!' in a stern loud voice may do.
            • From the description you gave us, and from the few reactions you posted in this thread, I'd say go for a cat. They're great animals, but I personally still think that they are all completely nuts. That of course enhances the entertainment value.

              Mart

              *Of course, as anyone living with a cat will tell you, humans don't own cats, cats own humans.

  • by Gabey (18874)
    I have a ferret, and she's perfect for my lifestyle. Ferrets can be difficult to train, and they're not going to do tricks for you, however, they can be litter trained, trained to come to you, etc. Mine is about half litter trained, which is good enough.
    Some ferrets will chew on cables. I've been lucky in this regard so far, although there are some gnawers out there. However, this is trainable, especially by using bitter apple spray (they hate the taste).
    The best thing I've found about ferrets is that they're always ready to play. Getting home at strange hours is no real problem for them, as they're usually sleeping anyway. However, because ferrets are so playful, it's usually a matter of waking them up, giving them a minute to stretch, and then they're ready to play.
    All in all, a ferret makes a great choice (or two, they're very communal, remember), if they're legal in your area, of course.

    -Gabe
  • Cats are definately low maintenance, tend to be independant and have interesting personalities.

    Fish could be interesting. I rescued a goldfish from a wedding reception and the thing lived for 3 years with my minimal care (let the tank go a little too long before cleaning it, sometimes forgot to feed him)

    A year ago we inherited an african grey parrot. They're considered the smartest of birds and probably the smartest of animals that are relatively easy to keep in the house (read about Alex [alexfoundation.org] to see what they are capable of with training). They aren't a low maintenance pet though, they require personal interaction and they are loud, messy and destructive. However, they are a very rewarding pet to own and can be very entertaining. If you consider owning one (or another type of parrot) I'd reccomend reading up on them and talking to a few owners to get a better sense of what owning one is like.

    • A year ago we inherited an african grey parrot. They're considered the smartest of birds...
      We have an African grey parrot and 2 cockatiels. The grey is very smart, and the cockatiels are often content to hang out on the shoulder while we work.

      However, both of these species (in addition to the regular "mess" they make of their area and shedding of feathers) also generate a fine powder to preen themselves (cockatoos do this as well). This stuff is incredibly adept at settling into computer components, and you'll have to either keep your birds several well-ventilated rooms away from your computers, or invest in a HEPA filter and vacuum cleaner. It's something additional to consider for the tech person aside from the general issues already mentioned (loud, messy, destructive) that apply to other birds.

  • If you have been on the internet for long enough to remember.. Gopher://

    DRACO-
  • "My question to the Slashdot community is this: are there any pets out there that are especially conducive to a nerdish personality/lifestyle?"

    MY 32 horses suit me fine. I may not be a very typical nerd, though.
  • I usually am not an advocate for reptiles as pets(snake-o-phobia). However, I have a leopard gecko and really like it.

    They have long lives with proper care (15-20 years), so you have time to grow on each other. It is easy to take care of, since it lives in a converted fish-tank that I picked up at a garage sale. It is nocturnal, so it is most active during those late-night programming sessions.

    I just have to make a trip to the pet store fairly regularly to keep him stocked with crickets. I picked up a thermometer and an under the cage heating pad for him. Probably cost $50 at a maximum initally, then $2-5.00/week for crickets.

    He is very relaxing to watch as he stalks his cricket prey around his cage. Once in a while when I'm sitting there talking to myself, he looks at me like I'm nuts. Not real cuddly, but I like him that way.

    For a nice low-maintenance pet, you can't beat them.
  • Well, Cats and Dogs are certainly viable geek pets. Cats, outside of litterbox detail and putting out food and water, are technically low maitnence. Of course, there's the playing with cats, mainly when they're kittens, but that's fun. Also, if you get a cat, get it to love canned food enough that it goes nuts every time a can is opened. Then, get one of those catfood-sized can air fresheners. The look on my cat's face when I did that was priceless.

    Also, make sure to train kitty to hop into your lap at the computer. Mine wouldn't, and missed out on a lot of cuddling and petting.

    And one more thing. If you get a dog or cat and leave antifreeze out in an area where the animal has access to, you should be shot. *looks at her father* Antifreeze is a killer.

    Anyway, if a cat doesn't sound right, consider a dog. Dogs are great, and loyal, but you have to play with them now and then too to really have a loveable doggie. I recommend against small dogs and any dog that is or is similiar to a poodle, unless you want a guard dog.

    My dog was half miniature poodle, and she was the best guard dog, despite being tiny. She would go ballistic every time someone she didn't know came NEAR the house. She couldn't have mauled them to death or anything, as she was an ankle biter, but I'm sure she scared a few away. Besides, the last thing we needed was a lawsuit.

    I've found that very good, low-maitinence pets are Sea Monkeys. Yes, they are real. No, they are not monkeys. They're small invertibrates that look like little white things. They're small, I think about the size of a staple. You feed them once a week, and you can get medicines and stuff for them... And they're obviously aquatic. I don'tk now if they're still availbible, but when they were there was a whole catologue of accessories.

    But Sea Monkeys aren't cuddly.

    I had a rabbit once, but it died. So no comment there.

    So, have fun.
  • When searching about ferrets I came across this testimonial [angelfire.com]. To summarize it, a representative from the fish and wildlife department of california came to this lady's house, and seized her ferrets. She was forced through a legal battle, and currently has her pets out of state with her father, and a hefty fine. PLUS she's on probation.

    Sounds like they take their laws seriously in California.
  • Ferrets love to crawl through small places (see previous comments on escape problems) so they were used in WWII to pull leader-lines through the wiring conduits in aircraft. Imagine showing up to help pull network cable and pulling a ferret out of your toolbox :).

    Seriously, a former girlfriend of mine did have a pet ferret and it was fun but somewhat high maintenance. They do smell but most people have the scent glands removed which pretty-much deals with the problem. We never had a real problem with smell after the operation.

    Like dogs, they love to grab onto things with their teeth which are sharp and they will sometimes draw blood. We never had it try to hurt someone, though. If you jumped, it would stop playing almost as if it was sorry it hurt you.

  • I own 6 Ferrets and they are an absolute blast. They sleep for 14 to 18 hours a day, are litter box trainable and do not gnaw on cables. They are intensely curious. Best analogy that I have read is that they are a cross of the best of a cat and dog. When they are awake they are like a 2-year old on very,very good caffine! :-) If you chose the right one they will bond with you and adjust their sleep cycle to your schedule. Females are about a half pound for the very smallest ones up to 2 pounds and the males can range from about 3 pounds to the largest one that I had seen and held that was 6 pounds. They are very loving and really love to play.
  • by Wakko Warner (324) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @06:26PM (#3834657) Homepage Journal
    Yes, because a pet is a status symbol. All your friends will think you are uber-leet for having a marmoset.

    What a moronic Ask Slashdot question.

    - A.P.
    • When I said "better than a dog or cat", I was only referring to getting a pet that had habits more condusive to my own habits. For example, why get a dog that I'd neglect when I could get a ferret that would match my sleep schedule?

      I'm sorry if you took offense to my question. I didn't mean to imply anything about status.
  • I'm a big fan of cats, myself. The only problem is when they want to be the center of attention and jump up on they keyboard (or book or whatever else I happen to be holding between me and the rest of the world).

    "It is widely grokked that cats have the hacker nature" - The Jargon Files [tuxedo.org]
  • I have a few pets, which have helped my geeklife.

    1 husky, which *requires* walking daily. How is this a good geek pet? Well, it makes you get away from the PC! Take a walk, look at the horizen, breath some air. I used to bitch about it alot (still do) but once I get back, I've always been better for it.

    2 cats, which are mostly great. The younger does make a habit of sitting on the scanner, but I can live with that.

    9 frogs. What can I say .. FROGS! Like a fishtank, you can go gadget crazy also, and they don't mind if you change the habitat from time to time. You can also combine this with a love of lego. Which brings us to the next choice ..

    Rodents. Pick your fav. from rats through to gerbils. And this is also a great excuse to use lego. Ever thought of making their home interactive? With lego setup correctly to a lego treadmill (hehehe) your imagination is your only limitation.
  • For the active geek with some property, nothing beats a small herd of llamas [oreilly.com].

    No, really [llamaweb.com].

  • are there any pets out there that are especially conducive to a nerdish personality/lifestyle?

    A Pikachu?

    PS: this is where you all go into LOL mode;
    • I'm not sure a Pikachu in and of itself is particularly nerdy. NOW if you hacked an Aibo so the only noises it made were random variations on "Pikachu", give it a custom yellow paintjob and rigged it to give an electric shock anytime it got pissed off (or you forced it into battle with the neighborhood rotwiller), that would be a pretty cool nerd pet! Hell, you could make a website about it and submit it to slashdot for all of us to marvel at! Can't get more nerdy than that!

      GMD

  • www.neopets.com

    Pretty geeky.. and you never have to leave the pc

    DRACO-
  • Servicat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by austad (22163) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @08:09PM (#3835017) Homepage
    Get a Servicat. I don't have a link handy right now, and I'm too damn lazy to find one, but a google search will turn up tons of pages.

    A Servicat is half African Serval (like a mini-leopard) and half Bengal (a standard housecat, but is at least some part Asian Leopard). They are legal in most states because they are only considered 50% exotic.

    I have 2 Bengals, and they rule. If they weighed like 30 or 40 pounds like a Servicat, they would be hella cool.
    • A Servicat is half African Serval (like a mini-leopard) and half Bengal (a standard housecat, but is at least some part Asian Leopard). They are legal in most states because they are only considered 50% exotic.
      I cannot find any references to a mix of Serval and Bengal? Can you post a link?

      I can provide some information on the Bengal...

      The Bengal is bred from the small wild "Asian Leopard Cat", not a leopard but Felis bengalensis, a small (up to 18 pounds) wild cat found in southern/eastern Asia, the Phillipines, and Indonesia. A full-blood ALC is very shy. The Bengal is a cross-breed with domestic cats, and acts pretty much like any other cat, except they like water and will cost you around $700 for a "pet quality" Bengal kitten.

      A badly-bred Bengal will be shy, like her wild great-great grandmother.


      • I think I may have found what austad was referring to as a "Servicat." I found references [google.com] to a "Savannah" -- a cross of an African Serval and a domestic cat. (I suppose you could request a Serval / Bengal mix from a breeder.)

        This mix isn't quite accepted by the hoity-toity crowd as a "breed" yet, though several sites referred to an "experimental breed" listing.

        Here are some of the facts and claims I found about the Savannah cat:

        • Cost: Kittens seem to be $500 - $2000, depending on gender and whether or not you have them (spayed | neutered).
        • Size: Expected maximum is about 25 pounds (12 kg). Claimed to be the largest domestic* breed.
        • Claim: More intelligent than "standard" domestic cats (more likely to get into things).
        • Claim: Less afraid of (or not afraid at all of) water.
        • One site referred to them as "dog-like" -- coming when you call their name, walking on a leash... weird things that no self-respecting cat would ever be caught doing.

          * (I suppose that would be in the legal sense, as in "No, officer, it's not an exotic, wild animal; it's just my moggy (mutt) cat.")

        As for my wife and I, we're quite happy with our two domestic shorthair moggies -- born to a feral cat outside a previous apartment, they're two true products of natural selection. Strong, lean, healthy, active... what I imagine God intended when creating "cat." We found them in a burrow under the concrete slab of our patio, and adopted them soon after. Yes, taming them took some time -- about a month -- but the only cost has been vet bills, food, sanitation, and more cat toys than I'd like to admit. It's been 5 years now, and there's no question -- we'd certainly do it again.

        To the original author of this Ask Slashdot: I strongly urge anyone looking for a unique pet to just spend some time in your local animal shelter -- the residents there would love 30 minutes of attention, even if you can't give them a home. Who knows... you might even find yourself getting attached to one of 'em. Unique isn't just breed or species... it can be attitude or personality as well!

  • i'm not sure if they're obtainable in your neck of the woods, but they're an excellent geek pet and unique exemplar of male pregnancy!
  • How about a snake?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LordDartan (8373) <dthiery@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Saturday July 06, 2002 @08:51PM (#3835163)
    In my sophomore year of college, my roommate had a pet ball python and believe it or not, made for a pretty good companion while working on the computer. He'd stay up on my shoulder, or on my arm, perfectly content to watch me work away. And before someone asks, he never tried to strangle me! *grin* The snake was about 3' long, and from what I remember my roommate saying, they don't get all that much bigger than that. And taking care of it was a breeze. Just make sure it has a clean cage and give it a mouse once or twice a month. And for those that are really adventerous, let a mouse loose in the living room and watch the snake hunt it down! Just be sure not to bother the snake while it's feeding, it does NOT like that!

    Of course now, I have a springer spanial, but only because my wife HATES snakes.
  • Ecosphere (Score:2, Interesting)

    While not really a "pet", they are great for geeks. I have one at work.

    Eco-sphere [eco-sphere.com]

    They don't require any maintenance and if you forget about them for a few weeks, no big deal. Occasionally, I'll put in the dark for a few days to stop the algae growth and to satisfy my god complex.

    I had mine for about a year now and my 4 little brine friends are still running in circles.
  • After over a decade of ferret ownership and 5 ferrets, I'd strongly suggest that you avoid them, particularly as a first pet. They're next to impossible to potty train, they're stubborn and they dig dig dig dig dig. They require that your apartment be "ferret proofed" because they will get in to anything, particularly stuff they're not supposed to get in to. They're also prone to expensive cancers starting at around age 5 or so and a lot of vets don't really know how to deal with them.

    Their playful nature is a delight and they are pretty low-maintenance but a cat would be almost as playful most of its life and would live easily twice as long as your average ferret.

  • by slaker (53818)
    Short-hair cats.

    Fish freak me out. They're always looking at you with beady little eyes. Birds are every possible kind of messy.

    Dogs require a little too much maintenence (gotta get home to let Spot out to pee).

    But my cats - a pound rescue and a Scottish Fold I've had for several years now - are great geek pets. First of all, they love the computers. Bat-the-cursor, lay on the keyboard, sleep on the giant monitor. They appreciate all the simple geekish joys.

    They basically come toilet trained, and clumping litter means two minutes of litter-box cleaning three or four times a week. No big deal. You keep a brush around to keep the shedding down to a minimum (it's not bad on shorthairs, anyway), get 'em a few toy mice and a laser pointer (all household pets, including my ex-'s fish, will play with a laser pointer), and they're basically good to go.

    Cats can cuddle up on your lap and are plenty vocal (mostly) if you're in need of another voice. Purring is a smoothing thing. It always relaxes me, anyway.

    Cats also live a good, long life. My parents had a cat for 21 years. They're truly an animal for the long-term. They're just all-round good pets.
  • Data Dog! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dexter riley (556126)
    I want an Ein! [asteroidblues.com]
  • They are small like cats, but friendly like dogs. They dont eat much, and they are lots of fun. Once we accidently dropped a table on one of our chihuahuas and I had to take it to get a cast. A chiahuahua with a cast is an *unstopable* chick magnet. I kept the cast even after the dog was better ;)

    Downsides: chihuahuas are pretty dang stupid, they bark alot and have bad eyesight, plus one just pooped in my bedroom .

  • by AtomicBomb (173897) on Sunday July 07, 2002 @03:01AM (#3836116) Homepage
    An optical mouse! It always lives with you, very low maintainance and get along well with computer...

  • ... if you go to your local Cat's Protection League (or US equivalent), they will have cats that need homes, and will give you all the advice you need.

    Don't worry about having more than one cat - they tend to fight a bit for a week or so, then settle down. Since I can't bring my cat here to my flat, he lives at my mother's house with her cat. So, we've two neutered toms, and they don't pee everywhere or fight.

    They are no trouble to look after, although if you live in a city you might want to have a litter tray and keep them inside. Ours go in and out when they want. We just leave a window open for them, so if they need out they just go and come back when they're hungry.

    Don't, whatever you do, get a "specialised" breed of cat. They've got all kinds of health problems and will cost you a fortune to look after. They got that way because of the inbreeding inherent in pedigree breeds. Just get a "Domestic Shorthair" cat - your local rescue centre will have loads of them, and will have culled out the inbred ones.

    One final not-totally-related tip - do NOT get a horse. They're extremely expensive and very hard work to look after. Having more than one isn't a problem (unless they breed or fight, so if you do, only get mares) but the amount of work increases exponentially. You will be able to grow fantastic organic vegetables, though, with all that dung.

  • Turtles (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Brento (26177) <brentoNO@SPAMbrentozar.com> on Sunday July 07, 2002 @09:49PM (#3839339) Homepage
    I can't say enough good things about turtles. [brentozar.com] You can either get aquatic turtles like red-eared sliders that spend most of their time underwater in an aquarium, or you can get regular box turtles that can wander around on the floor. They're very sturdy, they're easy to take care of, they live for tens of years, and they've got great personalities.

    Personally, I prefer aquatic turtles: if you have to leave them alone for a week (for vacation, trips, whatever), you can get a little automatic feeder and you don't have to worry about them pooping all over the place like dogs. They're beautiful to watch when they swim, plus you can take them out and play with them.

    Plus, they'll eat meat: you can throw a couple of live feeder fish, crickets, or whatever in the tank and watch the thrill of the chase.

    I can't exactly say that they're trainable, but they're very smart. Mine have learned to climb up on my feet and sit there when they want me to play with them. They'll just camp out on my socks or shoes and wait patiently for me to sit down on the floor.
  • Guinea pigs are the best pets to get if you are looking for something rodent-sized. They have been domesticated nearly as long as the dog, and so get along great with people. Their advantages are many:

    • Personality: They know who you are and make lots of interesting noises (squeaks and purrs). It is easy for a human to understand a guinea pig's mood.
    • Trainable: Guinea pigs can be trained to use a litter box, not to bite, and to get off your lap if they need to go to the bathroom.
    • Docile: A guinea pig loves to sit in a warm lap for hours, just sleeping. They are fine to take outside without a leash since they don't run that fast. They are easy to catch.
    • Cost: After you buy a cage, the costs of supplying a GP's needs are minimal. Just some hay, pine chips, and fresh veggies every now and then.
    • Pluses: No offensive smell, cheap to feed.

      Minuses: Not very interested in people. Often fearful. All Guinea pigs urinate a lot (no real bladder control). I've never seen one successfully trained to reliably avoid pissing on his/her owner.

      Without lots of fresh vegetables, particularly a good supply of vitamin C, the guinea pig has a abbreviated lifespan.

      Overall, I'd say a guinea pig is basically little more than a huge hamster -- easy to care for, but not all that interesting. They make a great pet for a kid, but aren't particulary geeky.

  • Cats are cool. They have BOFH nature.

    I'd like my next cat to be really large.

    Any suggestions as to a breed of cat which will grow to be big (not simply fat) and are known to have a friendly temperment? No need to be good with small children or strangers.

    I'd consider a Ragdoll or Maine Coon, but I would prefer a cat with short, dark hair, as most of my clothes and carpeting are various shades of black, and I'd like them to stay that way.

  • Sure, people have recommended a fish. But how about a specific kind of intelligent fish? I would recommend a single Oscar.

    Why single? Because they are messy fish that grow to be a bit big. They also will pay more attention to you (when there isn't another fish in the tank... besides feeders), and that makes them more easily trainable.

    Why an Oscar? They are one of the most intelligent freshwater fish. Read up on them. You'll see that people say they have personalities, and that they really are trainable to do all sorts of things. It really is quite amazing.

    Thus, it would be a perfect geek pet, to bring out the intelligence in a fish and to demonstrate the specific skills you were able to train it to do. And most people don't have fish that'll do anything but nibble out of their hand. This'll be a cool thing.

Chairman of the Bored.

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