Liana Stoll, 10, shows off her guinea pig, Princess Brownie, during the Palm Beach Day Academy Pet Show on Saturday.
Photo: Meghan McCarthy
Photo: Meghan McCarthy

5 great pets for people who work 12-hour shifts, like nurses

Any aspiring pet parent should take a long pause to evaluate if the desired pet is allowed in the lease or might trigger a household member's allergies. But nurses working long hours should add another item to the must-haves. Could this pet be happy and healthy living on your schedule?

» RELATED: Not just for patients: Nurses and the healing power of pet therapy

That decision shouldn't be taken lightly, nor should you automatically rule out the healing power of pet therapy merely because you work nights or 12-hour shifts. For one thing, unlike your human relationships, you can set the entire schedule for a pet and make it one that works for you. For another, you can choose a pet that is less active and more independent. Numerous pets are still therapeutic, even cuddly, but won't mind at all if three or four days a week you're pretty much at work, asleep, or trying to sleep

Here are five great pets for people who work 12-hour shifts, like nurses:

Rabbits. According to Nurse Buff, rabbits have several advantages for the 12-hour shift worker. "Rabbits are very quiet and hardly make noise," NB explained. "And as long as you leave them food, water, a clean cage, and maybe a toy before you go, they can be left alone while you're on shift. It's a good idea to get a pair though so they could keep each other company."

Birds. All that tiny chirpers need for a long shift on their own is food and clean water. "You can also put up swings and other toys to keep them stimulated," added NB. "Some bird species that can entertain themselves for the better part of the day are finches, canaries, doves and budgies."

Guinea pigs. These chubby cuddle machines are a nice choice if you don't have much time but you do have kids in the house, according to Real Simple. "A guinea pig is a pleasing handful and plenty entertaining. He will squeal with delight at the sound of your refrigerator opening (thus the 'pig' in guinea pig), and when he's happy, he'll jump for joy, kicking his heels up in the air."

Guinea pigs are a great choice for pet parents who need their sleep, too. "Many other pet rodents are nocturnal, which means that they sleep during prime human playtime," Real Simple added. "Guinea pigs, however, are nappers... And unlike their hamster brethren, guinea pigs don't tend to bite or require an exercise wheel that will squeak through the night."

Pet mouse. Unless you're the "jump on a chair at the first sign of a whisker" type, a pet mouse might provide the company you need without demanding a lot of time. "They bond easily with humans and develop a tame temperament," NB noted. "Still, they can be very entertaining, playful, and amusing. So long as you give them enough food and water, mice can be left the whole day. Mice are hoarders so they will only eat when hungry."

» RELATED: How friendships between nurses can help reduce stress

Dog breeds for people who work all day. "No dog should be left alone for more than 6 hours," according to the veterinarian-reviewed Reet Good blog. Many dog owners don't reach that ideal, but nurses who work 12-hour shifts can't even come close. If you still want a dog, though, be prepared to involve a dog walker, and see if you can't adopt an older dog who doesn't need as much attention. "Also, the different behavioral traits breed to breed make a difference," added Reet Good. It recommended these five breeds for pet owners who work all day:

–Chihuahuas, which Reet Good called "great little nappers."

–Basset Hound, a breed where "you'll be the one that's pining to get home to see your lazy little mate, you needn't worry about the dog."

–Greyhounds, surprise! "When they're not racing around, they're napping and chilling out," Reet Good assured.

–Whippets, who "enjoy time to themselves" and "are brilliant around kids."

–Maltese, "tiny little fluff balls" that are affectionate but don't need you around all the time.

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