Allowing your children to have pets starting at an early age is a great way to teach them how to handle responsibility. More than that, children who grow up taking care of at least one pet tend to adopt a more caring attitude towards animals and other people. It is easy to see why having pets around is an important part of raising children.
On the other hand, having pets may turn out to be more difficult than it may seem; that is, if you do not provide the necessary guidance needed by your children. More so, it is imperative that you choose the right pet/s for your children. Take a look at the animals best suited to be children’s pets.
Hamsters are cute and cuddly, and are very easy to take care of. They are actually being touted as the “perfect pet” for children. However, you have to understand that this might not always be the case. On the upside, they are small and do not need a lot of space. They are also very sociable – once they get used to being handled.
That being said, you ought to know the downsides of owning a pet hamster. One, hamsters are nocturnal. That means your children will not be able to play much with them during the day. Two, since they are quite small, very young children might end up injuring them. As such, it is better to give pet hamsters to children who can understand that they need to handle the animal with care. Hamsters can live up to two years.
Some people actually get confused when it comes to hamsters and guinea pigs, but yes, they are two different creatures. If you compare hamsters and guinea pigs, the latter serve as better pets in fact. This is because guinea pigs are a bit bigger than hamsters, making them less fragile. More so, they are actually more sociable than hamsters. These animals also live longer, from four to seven years. In short, if you want a cuddly little critter for your cuddly little kid, go for the guinea pig instead of the hamster.
The downside is that you’ll need a slightly bigger cage for a guinea pig. Still, it doesn’t have to be so large that you’ll need to build a bigger house just to make room for it. Another important reminder – make sure that you give your guinea pig regular doses of vitamin C, as this is an important part of their diet.
If your child seems to have a rodent fixation, then try fancy mice or fancy rats. If you haven’t watched Ratatouille, then maybe you should. It will definitely help you change your perception of these creatures. Why should you even consider rats/mice as pets for the kids?
One, they are very sociable – sweet, actually. People who have owned fancy rats/mice swear that they actually bond with their owners. More than being sociable, they actually form a relationship with humans! That being said, you ought to know that they do better with at least one companion, so don’t make the mistake of getting just one. These creatures can live up to three years.
Rabbits can be fun pets for kids. They are cute – how can you resist that forever-twitching nose? A lot of children gravitate towards rabbits when it comes to choosing pets, so be ready to take one home. You can keep a rabbit in a hutch outdoors, although there are hutches that can be kept indoors now. You do need to give your pet rabbit lots of space for exercise, though. Another word of caution: they sometimes bite. Rabbits live up to seven years.
Let’s move on to a totally different kind of animal. Children love fish – remember Finding Nemo? Just make sure that you teach your children how NOT to be like that little girl in the movie!
Goldfish are particularly good for children as they are very low maintenance. You don’t even really need to set up a high tech aquarium to keep pet goldfish. Just make sure that you clean the bowl when necessary and to keep at least two goldfish – they like company. Goldfish can live up to 25 years, would you believe that?
Um, ants? Don’t you keep a can of insect killer in every room in the house just so you won’t see any insects around? Well, I am talking about an ant farm actually. This used to be a popular thing for kids, but not too many children are into them these days. Having an ant farm is very advantageous, though, as you can use it as a teaching tool for organization and hard work. And, as long as the case is sturdy, you’re house should be okay.
If you’re child wants something different, consider leopard geckos. This reptile is small, has very interesting skin markings, and is very docile. Children who like reptiles will clap with delight if you give them this pet. Your children can play with them safely, but make sure that they are careful as the tail can come off. It will grow back, but not like the original tail.
Of course, dogs have to be in this list! They aren’t called our bestfriends for nothing. Dogs live a long life and are perfect companions for children. They are very sociable and form lasting bonds with their owners. Of course, dogs require much more time and effort from you and your children as compared to all other animals mentioned above. More so, you have to be very careful in choosing the breed that you get as different breeds really have different characteristics, and not all dogs are suitable for children.
Cats are great pets for children who are older than five. The truth is, in spite of the fact that cats look so cute and cuddly, they do not adjust well to children’s “erratic” behavior. Sudden noises and movements irritate them and they might respond in such a way as to injure your children. The upside to having cats as pets is that they are much easier to take care of as compared to dogs.
If you have lots of space (and money!) then you might want to consider getting your children a pony. Ponies live for much longer than all the other animals on this list. They are beautiful animals, and taking care of them will instill a lot of values in your children. The thing is, not everyone has the time, space, and money to take care of ponies. If you have that luxury though, go for it!
The editor of Discovery News Journal, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.