Nearly every child develops a more or less strong desire to own a pet at one point in their life. For the parents, the permanent questions get quite annoying but a wisely chosen pet can enrich the family life. While cats and dogs can make good family pets they are also high maintenance and you will have to do most of the work. They are just not the right choice when you want your child to take care of mostly on its own. Some small pets for kids can make great companions and are also good for teaching responsibility.
What to consider when choosing a pet for your child?
Choosing the right pet for your child and the family is not easy and there are several things you should take into consideration.
The pets’ lifespan
This is by far one of the most important factors you should have an eye on. While it can be very sad for your child when it hast to say goodbye to its little friend after 2 or 3 years, this can also be an important life lesson. Apart from that chances are high, that you have to care for the pet when the child leaves for college. Plan to care for the pets when their lifespan is long.
Can you care in a responsible way?
Pets are living beings that deserve proper care. That means providing fresh water and food is not enough. Even the smallest critters usually need a large cage. Make sure you have enough space before you buy the pet and cage. Sometimes it can be surprising how big cages can be. Another important question is if you can pay for a vet. Most pets need at least some kind of veterinary care when they get older.
What if you have to do all the work?
This is not only for pets that can get very old. It can be, that your children lose interest in the pet and its care after they did the returning tasks for a few months. You should be able to do the work on your own.
Does the pet fit your family’s lifestyle?
This can become a critical factor, so you have to do proper research about the pets’ characteristics. Is the pet nocturnal and how does this affect your sleeping habits? Is the sleeping room the only place where is room for a cage? Do you know someone who can take care of the pet when you want to go on vacation? You should already have the answers to all these questions before you buy the pet.
7 Best Small Pets For Kids
Now let’s get to the list of small pets for kids without delay.
To be honest, rats are not the first species most people think of when considering a pet for their kids. But they are worth the thought for several reasons. Rats are not only very intelligent and enjoy human companionship but are also very clean pets if kept properly.
They are very playful and love to spend time with your children. They can learn tricks and like to observe their environment from the shoulders of their owners.
Rats can build strong bonds with your children and can serve as good small pets for kids. Actually, they will come when called by name and interact with humans in many ways. The critters are friendly and will look for human contact for their own purpose.
The critters need the right care and habitat to be happy. The most critical factor is always the size of the cage. Even if rats are relatively small pets, they need a large enclosure with enough room to play and roam. Apart from that human companionship is not enough. Rats can be bored easily and most of the day they will be alone in their cage. Because of this keeping them at least in pairs is mandatory.
The lifespan of rats is relatively short and there are health issues like respiratory problems and cancer that can shorten the 2 to 3 years even further.
Guinea pigs are more common as pets. They are social and like to spend time with their humans. There are behaviors in guinea pigs that are really cute. Have you ever heard about popcorning? This phrase describes a kind of jumping that looks like a corn kernel that pops into the famous snack. Guinea pigs do it regularly as a sign of comfort and happiness. Apart from that, they respond to your child’s actions through different noises.
Like rats, they are friendly and intelligent. Most guinea pigs are looking forward to spending time with their humans where they can learn tricks and play some games. It is recommended to keep them in pairs, as they need interaction with their own species too.
Guinea pigs need a large cage and a varied diet of veggies and pellets to live a happy life. With a lifespan of 5 to 7 years, there is more commitment needed. Have in mind, that it is likely, that your child loses interest overtime when it gets older. You should be ok with doing much of the required work to a certain point.
Most parents think of hamsters first when considering the first pet for their kids. That is no wonder as they look so cute and have a reputation to be a good pet. However, they do like human companionship but have a strong desire to spend some time on their own too.
If you choose a hamster you should definitely make sure, that your child will respect the needs of the pet. Large breeds like Syrians are usually a better choice than dwarf hamsters as it is easier to touch and pet them the right way.
All hamster breeds need a roomy cage that has to be cleaned frequently. Have in mind, that they spend most of their short lives (2 to 3 years) in their cage.
Gerbils are more hands-off than the above-mentioned critters. But that does not mean there is no work required. Hands-off also means, that gerbils usually do not enjoy being cuddled and petted. But for children that feel the same and want to watch instead of interact gerbils might be a good fit. With a lifespan of about 2 years gerbils are not such a commitment as other rodents.
Rabbits are a popular pet for kids as they look very sweet. When thinking about getting a rabbit you should have in mind, that they are not hands-off at all. Rabbits like to spend some time on their own, but make a good companion when treated right.
Rabbits live up to 10 years and are a better choice for older children. Many people are surprised how smart rabbits are when they experience that rabbits come when called by name and walk on a leash. When you want to let them roam through your house, you definitely have to bunny-proof the rooms.
Parakeets can be a good pet for children who do not want to cuddle. They are colorful and have fascinating personalities. They are social and develop a quite strong bond with their owners. Parakeets can learn words and even songs and most children really love to spend time teaching them some.
The lifespan is about 10 years, so the commitment is relatively high. Apart from that the amount of work is quite low compared to rodents.
Canaries are a real hands-off pet they do not even need one-on-one time. If you now think they are boring pets: It is entertaining to watch them, as they are very beautiful. Apart from that, it is nice to hear the songbirds chirp.
They are social and you better keep them in groups. The lifespan of canaries is about 10 to 15 years.
So, how do you like our suggested list of small pets for kids? Which one do you think should work well for your child? please let us know in the comments.