Category Archives: First Pets

Best First Pets/Bird Category

Parakeets (Budgerigars or Budgies, as they are sometimes called) make great first pets for families. There are more than 120 species of parakeets and they come in a rainbow of colors. The word “parakeet” means long tail, and these small members of the parrot family can live 15-25 years.

Parakeets are lively pets with big personalities. They are also good talkers and do best at mimicking the higher pitched voices of women and children, which delights little ones.

~read more on the Garanimals blog~

Photo credit: Bedroom Eyes by PuppiesAreProzac via a Creative Commons license.


Guinea Pigs Make Great Pets

Peruvian Guinea Pig

Probably the question we get asked most often here at The Animal Store  is “What’s a good first pet for our family.” The answer is … it depends. Different families are drawn to different animals. Read more on Susan’s post today at the Garanimals blog.

Happy Year of the Dragon

It’s the Chinese New Year—the Year of the Dragon, traditionally considered by the Chinese to be prosperous and lucky. We’ve got a couple of residents who are really celebrating: the Chinese Water Dragon and our Bearded Dragons.

Chinese Water Dragon

When I first heard we had dragons here at The Animal Store, I was a little freaked out. Let me tell you, those Harry Potter books did nothing to enhance the reps of our friends the Chinese Water Dragon and the Beardies. They’re great guys, seriously, and kind of beautiful, in their own reptilian way. And the fire breathing—pure myth.

Chinese Water Dragons are great swimmers and climbers, and can hold their breath for up to 25 minutes under water. These dragon lizards both will puff out their chins when they feel threatened and the Bearded Dragon gets its name because it has a spiky chin.

Both reptiles make excellent pets.

Baby Bearded Dragons

In honor of the Year of the Dragon, Kenn is offering a 20% discount on everything you need to purchase and keep one of our dragons now through February 6, the end of Chinese New Year. No coupon needed; just tell him that Ernie sent you.

Photo credit:
© Mikhail Blajenov |

A New College Graduate’s Search for the Perfect Pet (Part 2)

Welcome back to Lisa Shoreland, with Part 2 of her search for her first post-college pet. Today she shares her decision-making process. Tune in on Thursday to see what she finally decides.

Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go College, where recently she’s been researching aerospace engineering scholarships as well as health administration scholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing, practicing martial arts, and taking weekend trips.

Pets I’m Considering
by Lisa Shoreland

I’ve compiled a list of the different pets I think could possible fit all of my needs. I’m going to consider the pros and cons of each pet to determine which one I’d like to buy. Although there are some pets that might fit this list of needs, I’m going to rule out lizards, snakes, spiders, rodents, and birds because none of them appeals to my personal tastes. Although a ferret or a hamster might fit my needs, personal childhood experiences have led me to take them off the list as well.

Small Dog
Great personality
Shots and spaying/neutering can be expensive
Furry and nice to pet
Need a carrier for travel
Will curl in your lap
Require more attention and care than other animals on list (e.g., regular baths)
Can be paper/litter trained, but tend to take longer to house train
Some apartments don’t allow dogs
Can be destructive to furniture
Have that dog scent, even with regular bathing
May bark and anger neighbors


Pros Cons
Independent Shots and spaying/neutering can be expensive
Quiet Need a carrier for the move
Clean Male cats are known to spray furniture
Have a personality Can be mischievous and claw furniture
Furry and nice to pet
Cat’s purring is soothing
Will curl in your lap

Aquarium with Fish

Pros Cons
Visually Stunning No personality
Very low maintenance No real companionship
Difficult to move

While we don’t necessarily agree with Lisa’s assessments of each type of pet, we do like and recommend her process of creating a list of pros and cons about which pet will work best for you. If you have questions or we can help you overcome a particular “con”, let us know. Part 3 with Lisa’s final descision will be posted on Thursday evening, June 16. In the meantime, what was factor that tipped the scales in determining which pet you would choose? Let us know here.

In honor of Lisa’s guest post and all you new grads out there, The Animal Store would like to give you a graduation gift. Bring in some proof of your recent graduation and get 25% off your entire purchase• of a new pet and all the supplies you need to get started. For those who have already graduated or are still in school, mention Lisa’s post for a 10% discount.*

*Offer expires June 30. Good on white tag prices only.

A New College Graduate’s Search for the Perfect Pet (Part 1)

This is our first guest post on The Animal Store Blog. Please welcome Lisa Shoreland, who will discuss her search for her first post-college pet in a three part series. Stay tuned this week to see what she decides.

Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go College, where recently she’s been researching aerospace engineering scholarships as well as health administration scholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing, practicing martial arts, and taking weekend trips.

Why Get a Pet?
by Lisa Shoreland

Having just recently graduated from college this last semester I’ve been excited to finally go out into the workforce. I’ve been interviewing with companies and trying to find that perfect fit. While I am quite excited to get started with “real life”, I’m finding that I’m not spending quite as much time around people as I used to. While I was in school I got to see my friends almost every day and, although we still hang out on the weekends, my days are filled with talking to HR reps and trying to find that next interview. In light of all this, I’ve decided to get a pet, just a little companionship for me while I’m getting settled into a working life.

Due to my situation, I have some specific requirements when it comes to owning a pet. I will likely be moving shortly, so I have to take that into consideration. I’m a new grad, so I don’t have tons of disposable income and I have to make every penny count. I will most likely be moving into an apartment, which will probably be pretty modest. I may or may not have access to a yard. Most of the jobs I’ve been interviewing for are either shift-work and/or salaried with lots of overtime.

So my pet is going to have to provide some amount of companionship while being relatively inexpensive, somewhat self sufficient, easy to move, be an indoor animal without needing too much room, and have a quiet disposition so as not to upset any neighbors.

Which pet will Lisa choose? Part 2 of her search will be posted on Tuesday evening, June 14. In the meantime, what was your first pet as a “grown up”? Let us know here.

In honor of Lisa’s guest post and all you new grads out there, The Animal Store would like to give you a graduation gift. Bring in some proof of your recent graduation and get 25% off your entire purchase• of a new pet and all the supplies you need to get started. For those who have already graduated or are still in school, mention Lisa’s post for a 10% discount.*

*Offer expires June 30. Good on white tag prices only.

Photo credit: COMMENCEMENT
© Attila Huszti |

Nano Aquariums & the Fluval Chi

chi — the life force the permeates the world
(according to Chinese tradition)

The hottest thing in aquaria today is the nano aquarium (2.5 – 35 gallons). Fluval has interpreted some of the smallest versions of the nano aquarium in its elegant chi kits. Available in two sizes (5 gallon and 6.6 gallon), these complete kits are easy to set-up and maintain and have tiny footprints, making them ideal for small spaces such as offices and apartments. Even my daughter’s dorm* would allow the Fluval chi.

It’s true that these smart little aquariums can bring beauty and energy into your space, with their sleek, edgeless design and minimalist aesthetic. They also offer a great introduction to the hobby, and come equipped with safe, low voltage LED lighting and a powerful filtration system. If you have been looking for an easy way to bring a pet into your life or to explore fish keeping, stop in soon to learn more about the Fluval chi or one of the many other shapes and sizes of aquariums we offer at The Animal Store.

Mention this post and get 10% off** your purchase of a Fluval chi.

[*Dorm pet policy: Pets are forbidden in residence halls with the exception of aquatic animals (e.g., fish, frogs, turtles) that can be safely and humanely contained in a tank/bowl of five gallons or less. Lights and filters are allowed and must fit within the parameters of the college’s fire safety guidelines.” Note: check the policy of your individual dorm/school.]

**Offer good on white tags only. Expires 2/15/11. 

New Take on a Family Favorite

Remember the old-fashioned ant farms — a bunch of sand, sandwiched between two pieces of glass. Practically every family had one. Well, the 21st Century version of this classic learning toy is so futuristic, you’ll barely recognize it.

The AntWorks Colors of Life ant habitat takes the traditional ant farm completely high tech. The multi-color LED shines continuous, full-spectrum light through the nutritious, non-toxic gel. You can set the lights to change continuously, or pick your favorite color with the flick of a switch. Your children will be fascinated watching the ants create intricate patterns as they tunnel through the gel. This is a great first pet experience and a good choice for families with allergies. It’s a safe, fun gift for the little scientists in your life.

Mention the AntWorks blog post and get an additional 15% off* your purchase of a Colors of Life ant habitat between now and the end of the year.

*Offer expires December 31, 2010.

Forget the Zhu Zhu Pet

The hottest toy this year may be the Zhu Zhu pet hamster, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing. John Kass recently wrote in his Chicago Tribune column that “Evil fake hamsters don’t deserve a place under the tree”. Children will “learn nothing about life from a fake hamster,” said Kass. “A fake hamster can’t love. Their cuddles are cold and empty.”

According the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, children raised with pets show many benefits:

  • “A child who learns to care for an animal, and treat it kindly and patiently, may get invaluable training in learning to treat people the same way.”
  • “Taking care of a pet can help children develop social skills.”
  • “Developing positive feelings about pets can contribute to a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence.”
  • “Positive relationships with pets can aid in the development of trusting relationships with others.”
  • “A good relationship with a pet can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion and empathy.”

These are just a few of the benefits that owning a real pet can provide to children. Hamsters are, in fact, good first pets and our staff can help you learn everything you need to know about buying and owning a real, live hamster for your family.

Avoid the crowds — unlike the mobs clambering for Zhu Zhus, we have hamsters available and in stock for the holidays here at The Animal Store, with a knowledgeable, friendly staff that can answer all your questions. Family fun with your own pet hamster will continue long after the Zhu Zhu has been forgotten in the box.
The Zhu Zhu Pet Hamster House House Starter Set with Mr. Patches toy hamster retails for $84.99.  The Animal Store Hamster Starter set includes:
  • CritterTrail Starter Habitat with quiet exercise wheel, water bottle and food dish, with expandability ports to add on accessories
  • food
  • bedding
  • hamster treats
  • and a REAL live young hamster — that you get to name yourself!

Everything you need for family fun all for just $50.

Come in and ask what pet is right for you and your family. And leave a comment to tell us how caring for a real life pet changed your life.

Meet Megan and Bam-Bam

Meet Megan and Bam-Bam

One of the most rewarding aspects of owning a pet store is connecting people with their first pets. First-time pet owners are excited, enthusiastic, willing to learn and just a little bit nervous. We like new pet owners to take their time, learn everything they can and get comfortable with a new pet before it goes home.

Not long ago, Megan came from Lake Forest to The Animal Store in Lincolnwood to get her very first pet, a cockatiel she named Bam-Bam. In fact, she and her mom, Jenny, visited the store several times and did a lot of research before choosing Bam-Bam. After playing with this little cockatiel several times at the shop, Megan decided it was just what she wanted for her birthday.

“I love birds,” said Megan. “Before we we got Bam-Bam, we learned how much work they were. We read about birds first in books from the library. We also learned a lot from the staff at The Animal Store, like how to feed Bam-Bam and what size cage we should get.”

“I loved it there at The Animal Store,” said Megan. “I love to look at all the animals, especially the birds. The people there were really helpful and they have a huge selection of pets.”

It’s not always easy to tell with birds whether they are male or female, but Megan thinks Bam-Bam is a female “because it whistles a lot and girl cockatiels whistle a lot.” Another tell-tale sign is that females have stripes at the bottom of their tail feathers. “Bam-Bam has stripes.”

Megan thinks cockatiels make great pets. She takes her bird for “walks” up and down their hallway. “I love the singing!” she said. “Bam-Bam sings the most in the morning.” Megan has learned a lot more about cockatiels since she brought Bam-Bam home. “I learned that if its crest is up, that means she is curious; if her crest is down, that means she’s calm; and if her crest goes up and down really fast, that means she’s mad!”  Not shockingly, Megan has figured out that the hardest part of owning a bird is cleaning the cage.

Even still, Megan and her family are happy with their choice.

“We love our new pet! Thank you Animal Store.”

Need help picking out your first pet? Stop into the store and we would be glad to help you. Mention the Megan and Bam-Bam post and get 15% any bird toy or treat.*

We’d love to hear about your first pet; email us or leave a comment.

*Offer good on white tags only and valid through Wednesday, December 23, 2008.

Stumble It!

16 Years and Counting

Anyone recognize these two animals? Our twins helped celebrate The Animal Store’s grand opening 16 years ago this Halloween weekend.

Since then, we have helped thousands of families find just the right pet for their home, boarded their animals when they went on vacation, and watched kids and pets grow up together. We’d like to celebrate our anniversary with you. Just mention the frog and bunny blog and get 20% off* any single item on your next purchase.
This is also a final a reminder for those of you in the neighborhood — The Animal Store is still on display as the featured business for October at the Lincolnwood Branch of Bank Financial, where we are sponsoring a weekly drawing. You’ve got four more days to enter to win the Grand Prize of an 8-gallon Oceanic BioCube aquarium.
Happy anniversary to us and Happy Halloween to all!
*offer expires 11/30/08