All of us can remember a childhood pet who was that little bit... individual. They were affectionate, for sure. Cute as well, of course. But they could be a nightmare, too. The excitable pup who was all right until left in the house on his own, whereupon he ate the carpet. Or the cat who was all sweetness and light when they had company, but got separation anxiety when in an empty home and used the bed as a toilet.
Now, none of this is to say that you shouldn't keep and care for pets who have these problems. With training and positive reinforcement, they can overcome a range of challenges like the above. However, if you want an animal companion but can't always have someone in the home, the first port of call might be a pet that's not so high-maintenance.
Geckos - Great From The Get-Go
If you're looking for a pet who's fun when you're around but fine when you're away, these guys are a lot of fun. They're cool and intelligent lizards and won't flip if you go away for a weekend. They have a tendency to decide that one corner of their cage is the toilet - making them easy to keep clean. They may look cheeky, but they love being handled and are gentle.
Drawback: They do require a lot of kit to give them a sound environment for living, to begin with. Once that's arranged, they're not a problem.
Parrots - You Can Say That Again!
Cats and dogs have had a way of latching on to humans for comfort for centuries. So, too, have parrots. You know the cliche of pirates and parrots in the cartoons you watched as kids? The good news is that it comes from reality! These colorful birds were common to pirate ships.
These days, you don't need a ship to keep them on. Find a hand raised Eclectus for sale, buy it a cage and some toys, and remember to feed it the right stuff. It needs some socialization, but you can certainly trust it to behave while you're at work.
Drawback: Unlike cats and dogs, parrots aren't over-keen on the food humans won't eat. They like fruit, but rejects from the greengrocer won't do. The fresher the better, if you want them to talk to you.
Turtles - Just Don't Feed Them Pizza
If you want a pet you can take to the park and run about with, a turtle is not for you. They will not chase a stick. They are unlikely to chase their own tail. But they are plenty of fun, and the ideal pet if you don't have a lot of free time to go to the park anyway.
Make sure that you have the right environment for the right turtle. Some are aquatic and require an aquarium, which is more work for you. Terrestrial turtles still need a terrarium, but don't take as much looking after. And they'll certainly play - just a bit slower than a kitten might.
Drawback: If you buy a young turtle, you may be lulled into a false sense of how much space it will need. They can grow to several times the size they are as youngsters. The good news is, if you look after them well they can live to a ripe old age.