If you’re considering getting a first pet for your child, it’s important to research child friendly first pets so that you choose something suitable for your child. Many things have to be considered when choosing a pet for a child, but the most important is how much care they need and whether you’re happy to get stuck in if your child can’t care for it independently. Here are 8 child friendly first pets that your child will love, and learn a great deal of responsibility from looking after.
1. Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are, without a doubt, one of the most child friendly first pets. They rarely bite, can be very playful and can get quite attached to their humans, squeaking with excitement as you enter the room. They don’t like to be alone, so get a pair of females (as males, unless from the same litter, can fight terribly), a good-sized hutch and a large run. Do be aware, though, that they can live up to 8 or 9 years, so they can be a big commitment.
Ant farms are still reasonably popular, and with good reason. If your child would be more interested in watching an in-home nature show than cuddling a furry animal, an ant farm is ideal, although younger children will need assistance with feeding and cleaning.
3. Small Birds
Canaries, finches and many other small birds make fantastic pets for slightly older children. All they need is a cage with toys and flying room (kept clean, of course), and fresh food and water.
4. Hermit Crabs
Hermit crabs probably aren’t a pet that many people have considered, but they are both interesting and low maintenance. They require fresh food and water, and a misting of water to keep them moist. A tank with gravel at the bottom does fine for a home, but they will regularly molt and require larger shells.
Goldfish are perennial favorites, although betta fish may be a better option, as they are both more beautiful and less fragile. All fish should be kept in a tank appropriate to their size with a filter, and need to be cleaned out regularly.
Rats get a bad reputation, but domestic rats are clean, social, playful and easily learn tricks. They rarely bite but young children should be supervised for the rats’ safety, and they should be kept in pairs. All they need is food and water, a clean cage, and frequent playtime outside the cage.
7. Older Cats and Dogs
Kittens and puppies may be adorable, but are rarely suitable for young children. Adopt an older dog or cat from a shelter that is known to be happy around children, and they will be much gentler and more patient with your child.
8. Gerbils, Hamsters and Mice
These three tiny rodents are popular first pets for children, and for good reason. They are generally good tempered, and can be socialized by being handled for five minutes at a time initially. They may be very cute, but do be aware that they are also excellent escape artists, so children must be taught how to handle them carefully.
Hopefully these child friendly first pets have given you some inspiration for your children, and perhaps brought back memories of beloved pets from your own childhood. Do your children have any pets, and what pets did you have as a child?