Choosing the perfect pet to keep you company at school – The Observer

For most of us, the housing selection process for the 2022-2023 school year is in full swing. With award times and lottery numbers posted, and everyone waiting with their quick fingers and touchpads, the whole process can be a little overwhelming, and the stress can start to overpower the fun. So, I wanted to give you something related to dorms next year that isn’t related to your room selection time: pets.

Whether you’ve had pets all your life or want to start now, this will likely be a great addition to your housing plan for next year. Your initial reaction to this proposal was probably similar to mine: are we even allowed to have pets in the dorms or common rooms? Well, you can, as long as you fill out a pet registration form and have it approved by both your housemates and their coordinator. Details surrounding the approval process can be found on the Case Western Reserve University website.

Alright, now let’s get to the fun part: decide which pet you might want to have. Obviously, there are a plethora of options out there, and each website you go to for recommendations will give you a slightly different list. Animals prohibited in residential communities are dogs, cats and ferrets. But that still leaves so many other options. I did the heavy lifting for you. I’ve scoured the web and asked every student pet owner I know for advice. I think the list I made is pretty good, so hopefully you can find at least one candidate for a furry or not-so-furry friend!


Although it doesn’t meet the “cuddly” requirement that most people look for in a pet, the fish is perfect for us students. They are aesthetic, cheap, easy to maintain and their tank does not take up too much space. The most common types of fish – the most colorful – include guppies, goldfish and betta fish. You also need to decide if you want more than one fish, as everyone knows the infamous male betta fish needs to be kept isolated from others. Once you’ve chosen your fish, find a small, space-saving aquarium and you’re set!

Hermit crab

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised to see this one on nearly every list. When I asked around, it turned out to be a common student pet. Despite the low investment required for a suitable aquarium, they are fascinating pets and certainly more active than some fish. They are also easy to feed and maintain. Plus, you can even paint their shells, as long as the paint isn’t toxic. These little creatures are sure to provide you with an entertaining muse during a study break.


As a classic starting pet, hamsters had to be included. Although they look generic, these little furballs are cuddly, love to play and are very cute, making them worthy of the hype. While that might sound gloomy, their durability also makes them an attractive choice. Of course, no one wants their pet to die, but it’s important to consider what you will do with your pet after graduation. Hamsters only live approximately as long as it will take them to graduate if you graduate early or halfway through your time at CWRU.

guinea pig

I grew up with guinea pigs and loved every minute of it, so I’ll do my best not to be biased. No promises though. They are arguably the most adorable pet on this list and they love to be cuddled up too, if you’re feeling down. As long as they’re out once a day, they’re perfectly well kept in a small enclosure that fits in a dormitory. The only downside is that they crave company, so if you’re not sure you can always play with them and give them attention, having two might be a good idea. As a benefit, watching them play can be a relaxing break from school work.


They’re also obvious good choices for dorm pets; mainly because they are unable to escape, so to speak, if momentarily taken out of their enclosure. This takes away a source of anxiety for many students looking to get a pet. The best types of turtles that are suitable for students new to pets are the Western Painted, Common Musk, Mud, and Red-Eared Slider. The only downside is that turtles are long-lived, on average around 30 years. But, if that’s not an issue for you, they’re definitely still an attractive option.


If you’ve ever seen a gecko, I’m sure you’ll agree that they’re pretty cool animals. With their huge eyes and colorful exteriors, they make the perfect pet. On top of that, they don’t require much maintenance and can live in a relatively small tank, as long as it’s set up correctly. They also don’t depend on a lot of interaction or play time, which is great for us busy students. Now back to the pretty colors part. Their colors depend on the breed and there are several different options. The most intriguing, in my opinion, are the Leopard, Frog-Eyed, and Mediterranean-House geckos.

While having a cute pet to watch and play with isn’t enough to get you one, they’re also hugely beneficial to your mental health. Some studies even suggest improvements in physical health, although research in this area is still relatively new. Interacting with pets causes an additional release of oxytocin, which is the feel-good hormone. It also decreases levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Basically, you will have an adorable little companion and an elevated mood. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

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