It is hard to come across a child that does not dream of owning a pet. Childhood does not just seem complete without a trusted companion by your side. After all, there are only so many people that can form a deep emotional bond with a child with no fear of hurting him/her.
Moreover, studies have proven that pets can teach kids responsibility while some researchers have linked a strong immunity in children to pet ownership. The strong immunity might follow exposure to a range of generally harmful elements that the child will build resistance against over time.
Not all animals will make good pets for your child. The ideal choices are small pets that are easy to care for and will not overwhelm the child. While there are tons of pets you can choose for your child, below is a narrowed list of the ten best pets you should consider.
Hamsters make perfect options for first pets. They are cute, cuddly, entertaining and will not need too much space. Moreover, hamsters do not need a lot of cleaning up after and can be taught to use a litter box with time.
With an average adult length of 4.5-10 cm and weight of 20-45 g depending on the species, a hamster will perfectly fit into a child’s hand and be easy for him/her to pet.
A pet hamster will live for 2-3 years. Though this sounds like a disadvantage to most people, the loss of a hamster that has been well taken care of can give you the opportunity to teach your child about death.
The animals can, however, be quite aggressive, and the very small species can prove challenging for your child to handle without dropping. As such, hamsters are often ideal for older kids who will be careful when handling them.
Guinea pigs are in the same family as hamsters; the rodent family. Even so, unlike the latter, guinea pigs are sweet and gentle. They will rarely bite and are quite friendly.
This means they will love being handled and are less likely to become frustrated when dropped by young caretakers. The trait makes the guinea pig an ideal choice for a young child who is just learning how to handle an animal.
Guinea pigs thrive in pairs, and it is best to consider getting another one to keep yours company. The animals live for 5-7 years. Nonetheless, guinea pigs have bigger appetites compared to hamsters and will need more food.
Other than the increased food cost, this means a guinea pig’s cage will be messier than a hamster’s and need frequent cleaning.
Though easy to care for, gerbils are not very hands-on and thus work best for children who do not want to be so involved in their pets’ lives. Like guinea pigs, these animals best thrive in pairs.
Feeding gerbils is easy because they can grow on the standard diet for hamsters and rats; food blocks and pellet feeds. They are generally not aggressive and can be safely held. Even so, they are quite fast, and it is not easy for kids to hold them for too long.
The quickness nonetheless means the animals are very active in their cages and will pique your child’s interest for a long time. Be careful to maintain just the right humidity levels in a gerbil’s environment to avoid fur and respiratory issues.
Rats and Mice
While rats and mice might not be among your first picks for a child’s pet, they are perfect for small children. They can be handled a lot and are calm. Rats and mice are also perfect choices when aiming for a strong bond between the pet and your child.
This is because they are interactive and can be taught several tricks like retrieving objects or navigating obstacles. In your rat or mouse cage, include a lot of accessories like paper towels and ropes to keep the rodent occupied.
Rats thrive on a standard rodent diet and are thus easy to feed. Even so, like gerbils, mice and rats only live for 2-3 years.
Dwarf rabbits are about 2.5 inches long and weigh 2-2.5 pounds. This size makes them easy to handle for kids. Moreover, dwarf rabbits are sociable and love playing with kids. You, therefore, are guaranteed that your child will love them.
Though often gentle, some rabbits can be aggressive. To prevent this, pet experts advocate for neutering or spaying of the animals. The practice also prevents uterine cancer in female rabbits.
Rabbits live for 8-12 years; more than enough time to prepare your child for the death of his/her pet. Because they can be litter-trained, you need not worry about your child spending a lot of time cleaning the cage.
To guarantee your dwarf rabbit’s happiness and health include plenty of vegetables, rabbit pellets, and grass hay in its diet.
If you are looking for a low-maintenance, peaceful and quiet pet, the turtle is among your best choices. Though small, it can get used to handling. One of the primary attractions for getting a turtle is its long lifespan.
While this means you should not worry about the death of your child’s pet in the near future, it also means you should be prepared to take care of the animal for a long time. In your turtle’s enclosure, you will need a heater, and filter among other equipment according to the animal’s species.
Thankfully, these are one-off expenses. After your initial set-up, a turtle will not need a lot of money for upkeep.
Geckos grow to about a foot long and live for 10-20 years. Their long lifespans and small sizes make them ideal choices for kids’ pets. Some of the popular species for pets include the leopard, crested, day, common house and tokay geckos.
Generally, these pets are docile and pleasant. They, however, do not like being handled too much, and this can stress them. Some gecko species are nocturnal so be careful to get a diurnal one so that your child can spend as much time as possible with it.
A gecko needs no special enclosure though its cage should have climbing branches, secure lids and hiding places. It often does not eat vegetables but rather thrives on insects like mealworms, waxworms, crickets and super worms.
If you are getting a goldfish or a type of non-tropical fish, aquarium fishes might be your best choices for low-maintenance children pets. Most tropical fish and exotic species will need a lot of care since they have specific needs that will overwhelm your child.
You will invest in a good tank with filters, heaters, rocks, foliage and pebbles for your pet fish, but this is a one-off investment. The fish will need very little of your time, and you only need to ensure your child feeds it daily.
Ensure you check the water parameters at least once weekly and adjust as necessary to keep the fish healthy.
Pet frogs grow to 2-5.5 inches and live for 4-15 years. While some people consider frogs boring and nothing that would interest a child, smaller species are quite active. Even so, they should not be frequently handled because their skins are sensitive.
You should set up the tank housing the frog to the right conditions based on its species. Moreover, have a suitable area for the frog’s hibernation. Most frogs will eat worms, caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets and moths. Larger species will nonetheless need pinky mice.
Some of the best frog species for kids include dwarf, oriental fire-bellied, white’s tree, African clawed, American green tree and Pacman frogs.
Though unusual, hermit crabs make interesting and easy-to-care-for companions for kids. They are active and curious creatures with distinct personalities.
Hermit crabs are not considered “true crabs” because they have small and soft abdomens that are protected by their empty snail shells.
Their proper care includes environments with constant temperatures of 75 °F. Hermit crabs need humidity that is best delivered by daily misting. Their environments should also have rocks to climb, sand to dig in and plenty of hiding spots.
The crabs are omnivores that live for thirty years. Nevertheless, hermit crabs have higher care needs than young kids can handle. They are thus ideal for older kids.
Cats and dogs are not the only pets that will suffice for your child as the above information has proven to you. Before settling on any of these animals, get the opinion of a pet expert and your child’s pediatrician if possible.
The advice of these two professionals can help you match your child’s needs, health and personality to the right pet. For instance, some kids might be allergic to certain types of fur and thus be harmed if they interact with some animals.
Furthermore, consider your lifestyle since you might step in on some occasions to help take care of the pet. If you are too busy, get a pet that needs as minimal human input and integration as possible so that the animal’s welfare is upheld.