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Top 5 Greenest Pets

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Top 5 Greenest Pets

By Sarah Grace McCandless, Animal Planet

You can use eco-friendly initiatives to go green in nearly every aspect of your life, including the house you live in, the cars you drive and the food you eat — but what about the pets you love? From teaching responsibility to providing unconditional companionship, furry friends can certainly change your life for the better, but can they also change the environment for the worse?

Just like people, animals multiply, require food and shelter, produce waste, and use a variety of accessories such as toys and bedding that require a manufacturing process — all of which contribute to shaping and defining their carbon paw print. But just as we have the ability to make more sustainable choices within our own activities and lifestyles, there are more eco-friendly approaches when it comes to pet ownership as well. Check out the top five options for getting a green pet.

(Click through to the end for a printer-friendly version.)

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8:42AM PST on Jan 26, 2011

Thank you for posting.

11:43AM PST on Dec 16, 2010

Thanks for the advice.

5:25PM PST on Dec 7, 2010


Birds (parrots, finches and any other species) require toys, accessories, and a LOT of personal attention. The larger the bird, the more poop. Birds poop on average every 15-20 minutes. The poop many not be as large or stinky as a cat or dog's feces, but it's very sticky and difficult to remove when dried.

Don't fool yourself about the "less waste and mess" part, as birds have a tendency to to what's comically called "projectile pooping" by bird-keepers: they lift their tails and shoot it out, often hitting walls and fabric (curtains) with it.

Birds fling their seeds and masticated fresh fruits and vegetables (oh, did you mention they need those, too?) by shaking the clumps from their beaks. They literally "paint" walls with the stuff.

Birds chew, and to keep them happy, occupied, and beaks and nails trimmed, they require chewing toys...which get "destroyed" quickly, must be replaced frequently, and can be rather expensive over time. So much for "minimal accessories and toys," unless you're insinuating that birds deserve less because they are birds?

Lastly, parrots particularly are LOUD. Very, very LOUD. They squawk, scream, shriek, whistle and make all sorts of ear-splitting vocalizations for a variety of reasons: boredom, frustration, to get your attention, to greet you, demands to be let out of a cage, to be given food and water, and so on. Your neighbors WILL say something if you have a parrot or 8, like I have.

Choose wisely!

5:17PM PST on Dec 7, 2010

Dogs and cats are NOT "green pets" no matter how one tries to cram them into that category for the same reason that most humans aren't green: their food consists of factory farmed animals and wildlife that is slaughtered at a huge expense to the environment, not even counting the clearcutting that happened, the pollution the waste causes, and the tremendous use of water to sustain factory farming operations. There's no nice way to say this, either. If you keep a carnivore as a pet, you're contributing greatly to the suffering of farmed animals with your "choice" of companion animal. Think about this very, very carefully.

"Of course, anyone considering chicken ownership should make sure they’re able to provide proper living conditions for the animals, which includes allowing them the ability to move around and spread their wings..."


Where are getting this, from the Poultry Association? All birds require safe quarters for SLEEP but should have adequate area to roam, forage and exercise during waking hours. Just giving a chicken "enough space to spread her wings" is NOT adequate, it's forced confinement.

"For example, hamsters, birds, snakes and fish typically require minimal food and produce less waste. They also generally need only a minimal number of toys and very little bedding or other accessories."

Where did you get THAT crap from, animal breeders? Birds are NOT "minimal care" animals at all - please stop spreading dangerous misinformation!

9:55AM PST on Dec 7, 2010

I love animals, thank you for some helpful information.

11:28PM PST on Dec 6, 2010

Perhaps an earlier comment addressed this but, the methods used to obtain exotic fish and bird can be devastating to the environment, other creatures that environment supports and many of the animals are killed during the collection and transportation. If you truly love animals. Stick with domestic animals. Let wild animals be wild, show your love and appreciation of them by protecting them and their natural environment.

BTW My current kitty was a fostered (by my sister along with her siblings) coordinated by the local HS. Encourage everyone to spay/neuter and to encourage everyone they know to do the same. Decreasing pet over population is the greenest (and kindest) thing we can do.

8:30AM PST on Dec 6, 2010

I have one disagreement with your article. Neither fish nor birds should be considered "low maintenance" pets. Fish live in a closed environment with a specialized biochemistry (i.e., the tiny confines of the water in their tank), and while it's not difficult to learn to maintain this environment properly, the skills must be learned and practiced to keep your fish healthy. Birds are highly social animals, with high metabolism rates for their size. While some, like finches, canaries, and doves, are reasonably content with moderate interaction (or best, being kept in a group of the same species), hookbills such as parrokeets, lovebirds, parrots, cockatoos, cockatiels and macaws are extremely intelligent and require lots of attention, and mental stimulation through both interaction and lots of different toys. The larger hookbills also have long lifespans compared to dogs and cats - different species range from 30 to almost 100 years - so owners should do a lot of research before making this decision, and be ready to take on responsibility for the long haul. You and your bird should also select and train your heir, if you're older than your bird is.

9:14PM PST on Dec 5, 2010

Awesome article!

8:42PM PST on Dec 5, 2010

Definitely Food For Thought Here..... I Never Thought That An Outdoor Cat Could Be Bad For The Environment!!!!!

8:20PM PST on Dec 5, 2010

Cats -- neutered, indoors (except for the one who tears my house apart if he can't go out. In his defense, the only local wildlife I am aware of him eating are the rats -- he studiedly ignores birds and lizards).
All of them were strays -- one was a feral born in my neighbor's yard.

One thing pet owners might look at is the quality of the food they feed their pets.
Cheap, highly advertised commercial pet foods these days are not actually that good for your pets -- full of cornmeal and "by-products" that are not necessary, and can actually make your pet sick, get allergies, or have skin problems.

They will also eat more of the lower-grade pet foods, because they need more quantity to get the sustenance they need (the corn meal is used mostly as a filler, to increase the weight of the food, so you think you're getting a bargain for your dollar).

And the list of ingredients -- I won't eat something I can't pronounce myself, why would I feed it to my pet?

I switched to a high-end, natural cat food, with no corn meal or 'by-products', and nothing on the label I can't pronounce.
The initial cost is higher, but in the long run, it's cheaper. My cats are healthier. And I think it's greener -- and I wasn't even trying to be green!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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