Your child desperately wants to own a pet – but which type of animal should you get? Ideally, you want something that’s cute and cuddly, but also not too high maintenance (dogs and cats are great family pets, but it will be you doing most of the work). Below are just a few good options when it comes to first pets for kids.
Fish may not be very cuddly, but kids are still likely to find them fun and fascinating. They’re also very low maintenance – feeding them and cleaning out their tank are pretty much the only two tasks required (you can trust your child to feed them, although you’ll likely be the one to clean out their tank). Fish are also very cheap pets to buy and look after. Just be sure to put the tank in a safe place and teach kids not to put their hands in it.
Kids are certain to love these cute balls of fur. They’re also fairly low-maintenance – cleaning their cage, feeding them, and giving them water are literally the only three tasks necessary. Hamsters can be timid and can bite. They can also be easily hurt if held too tightly. As a result, they’re better suited to kids over 6 who can be more easily taught to handle them gently. It’s worth noting that they are also nocturnal, so they’ll be most playful when your child is trying to sleep.
Guinea pigs can be great first pets for kids. They’re a lot more trusting of humans than hamsters and gerbils, which means they’re less likely to bite and more likely to enjoy petting. You can also train hamsters to a certain degree, and they can live a long time (often 5 to 7 years). Guinea pigs require the same amount of maintenance as hamsters – you’ll want to help keep your guinea pig healthy and happy with some high-quality food and by cleaning out their cage regularly. You should ideally buy two guinea pigs as these animals enjoy the company.
Rats tend to get a bad rap and are often overlooked as pets. However, they can be some of the best pets for kids. Like hamsters and guinea pigs, they’re fairly low maintenance. They’re not as nippy as many other rodents and may enjoy being picked up and petted. They’re also quite intelligent and can be trained to do tricks. Unfortunately, rats don’t live very long (usually not more than 3 years). Like guinea pigs, you should ideally buy two rats, as they prefer to have a cagemate.
Rabbits are good first pets for older kids – but not so much younger kids. Contrary to popular belief, rabbits don’t like cuddles. They’re naturally very timid and creating a bond requires patience. Once this bond is established, a rabbit is likely to be a loving pet that can be trained and petted (although you generally shouldn’t pick them up). Rabbits can be kept indoors or outdoors. Either way, they need a lot of space, which is something to factor in. Like other animals, rabbits don’t require too much maintenance.