Life can be messy, hard, and filled with challenges that can alter our paths and mental health. Dorm life can be especially difficult: from being away from home to the loneliness that university life can introduce. Sometimes, we just need a little extra love in our lives, and one of the greatest ways to achieve that is through the care of an animal. Not only does having a pet encourage caring for another being, but they in turn care for you. Depending on the animal, that love might look a little different. You might receive general appreciation, you might get cuddles, or you might get verbal affirmations (not in literal language, of course). There might be a few additional factors besides love languages that affect your decision, from dorm life to finances, and this article can hopefully serve as a guide to help you find the perfect emotional support animal.
For many, a lizard might be the best option. Not only do many lizards take up little space, they are incredibly loving pets. Lizards are very affectionate, with a deep love for head pats and cuddles. They do require a little more effort than most pets, so for someone with a particularly busy schedule, they may not be the best option. They are also very sensitive to light, and will need to live on a strict schedule. Lizards are incredibly affordable, and depending on the type of lizard you get, you may only pay around 20 dollars for the animal itself. Lizards often live on a diet of veggies, mealworms, and crickets, with the latter two being easily affordable at pet stores such as PetSmart. This, coupled with the fact that you can purchase a terrarium for around 45 dollars, makes lizards a particularly affordable option. You may have to invest in warm bulbs for your lizard, and depending on the type of lizard you purchase, you will have to look into the right bedding for the terrarium. Usually, bedding for your terrarium is between coarse wood and bark, sand, and edible bark and wood chips.
If you are not inclined to like scales, you may prefer hedgehogs. While some species of hedgehog are protected species and therefore not viable pets under Canadian law, there are still species of hedgehog that are legal to purchase and care for in Canada. Hedgehogs are usually solitary creatures, but when they warm up to their owners they can be very cuddly and may be particularly taken to snuggling in your lap. Hedgehogs are more expensive than lizards, and sell for anywhere between 100 to 300 dollars. Hedgehogs can be kept in a cage much like a hamster or guinea pig, and their food can be bought at PetSmart for roughly 15 dollars. They are sensitive to temperature, so it is best to keep hedgehogs away from direct sunlight and cold drafts. It can also be helpful to have an area of their cage that is able to provide warmth, like a bed, without being unavoidable.
Rats and mice have been a polarizing topic for ages, but one thing is certain: they make lovely pets. Not only do they love cuddles, pets, and attention, they are very loving and will often snuggle with their owners. Rats and mice are easy to feed, with affordable kibble, and they can be kept in a cage. Rats can be bought for cheaper than 20 dollars, and mice can be bought for as little as 10 dollars. Both are incredibly rewarding pets, and are some of the cutest creatures you can find in a store.
Cats may not be a first choice for someone attempting to be hypoallergenic, but there are cats that are less likely to trigger allergies. While they may have a reputation for being grumpy, solitary, and uncaring, cats are often the polar opposite. Cats are some of the most loving animals, and often love hugs, kisses, belly rubs, and more. They are on the more expensive side, with litter boxes, food, and vet bills on the higher end of what many would consider affordable for dorm and student life. But if you are able to spring for a cat, they are one of the most rewarding animals you could have in your life.
Regardless of what animals you choose, you will certainly reap the benefits of having their love in your life. Animals are truly precious, from cats and lizards to mice and hedgehogs. All are equally adorable, loving, and are sure to boost your overall happiness and mental health.