Choosing the best pets for kids… For children, owning a pet can be a rewarding experience. A well-chosen pet can bring years of joy.
Owning a pet can also be a chance for children to learn valuable life lessons from caring for an animal. Pets can teach children about responsibility and reliability under the guidance of adults.
As an added bonus, some pets give affection in return for a child’s loving attention.
A fish may be the perfect “starter” pet for a child, but not just any fish will do. Goldfish may seem like the most obvious choice, but they’re actually more difficult to raise than the Siamese fighting fish (Betta fish).
These Southeast Asian natives are adapted to survive in isolation, in surprisingly small amounts of stagnant water. You may not even need aerators, filters, heaters, or chemicals.
However, betta fish thrive best in small aquariums with at least two gallons of water, regularly changed and kept between 76 and 82°F (24 and 28°C). Be sure to buy your fish from a store that has someone who can advise you on how best to care for them.
The appeal of cold-blooded creatures may be less obvious than that of warm, fuzzy animals, but certain reptiles make prized pets.
Tortoises, such as the plant-eating Russian tortoise, can live more than 50 years. Some snake species also make excellent pets, although constrictors should be avoided.
Added bonus: Reptiles are nonallergenic. However, keep in mind that the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against reptiles as pets for young children because they can easily transmit salmonella. Make sure to research specific care requirements for any new reptile pet.
Birds can be excellent pets. Although, owning a bird is more demanding than caring for a tortoise or fish. Some birds are highly intelligent. Others are very social. All birds require almost daily attention.
The relatively inexpensive parakeet may be a good starter for kids who haven’t raised birds before. More expensive (and more intelligent) birds like cockatiels and cockatoos also make great pets, but they may need more attention than parakeets or canaries.
Smaller mammals, including hamsters, guinea pigs, and gerbils, are relatively easy to raise. Also, most will thrive in a relatively small living space, and care is fairly straightforward.
Except for hamsters, which are solitary, it’s best to obtain young same-sex pairs. Regular, gentle handling promotes friendliness. Be mindful, though, that bites are possible should rodents — especially hamsters — feel threatened.
Surprisingly, rats make excellent pets due to their intelligence, larger size, and enjoyment of human companionship. Guinea pigs are also good kid-friendly pets.
Kittens are childhood favorites. Who can resist the antics of a fluffy feline?
Notoriously independent cats need somewhat less care and attention than dogs, but no less commitment. Like dogs, cats require regular veterinary checkups and immunizations.
It’s important to choose a cat that’s suitable to be around children. A cat may be a better choice than a dog if your family has limited living space.
Your local animal shelter staff can advise you on the temperaments of adoptable cats.
A cuddly puppy is probably the most classic children’s pet. Keep in mind that choosing the ideal dog involves more than falling for big brown eyes. Some dogs may be unsuitable for children. Before adopting a dog, ensure that the dog is well-socialized and comfortable around children.
Any breed will need a significant commitment of time and effort. Puppies must be housebroken and require daily exercise, regular veterinary checkups and immunizations, and plenty of love. Every dog is different, but kid-friendly breeds include:
- Labrador retrievers
- Golden retrievers
Rabbits are a very popular starter pet for families. They’re a great way to introduce the joy of owning and looking after a pet to youngsters. Highly intelligent and very inquisitive, 1.5 million Brits own rabbits. Daily activities include feeding, cleaning, grooming and exercising – as well as playing with your rabbit, too.
Both house and outdoor rabbits love to socialise, so if you only have the one, you’ll have to spend lots of time engaging with them. Because of this, it is recommended rabbits are kept in pairs. Besides these requirements though, rabbits can be left to their own devices, so make for great starter pets.
3Insects and arthropods
Six-legged creatures might not be the first to come to mind when thinking of pets for children.
However, owning an ant farm can be an entertaining and educational experience for a child. Various suppliers sell habitats designed to let children directly observe ant activities. Ants can be shipped live or grown from eggs.
Hermit crabs are another example of creepy crawlies that are easily raised in captivity.
Better known as “sea monkeys,” brine shrimp are tiny crustaceans that are essentially foolproof starter pets that even small children can enjoy. They’re available in kits. Children need only add water and watch these tiny shrimp emerge, become active, and grow.
Maintenance for these hardy creatures involves adding feed about once a week and occasionally adding water to combat evaporation. A colony can thrive for a year or more with minimal care.
A descendant of the wild guinea pigs of South America, these cute little animals make the ideal low maintenance pet for kids. Again. It’s ideal to keep guinea pigs in pairs at least, as they are very sociable creatures. If your pair are of the opposite sex, it’s a good idea to get the male neutered – otherwise you going to have quite a crowd on your hand.
With a decent sized hutch filled with food and bedding, plus regular playtime, guinea pigs are very rewarding pets. Guinea pigs live for around 4-8 years on average, so make sure your children are ready for the commitment.
Caring for a pet
Caring for a pet can be a positive experience for children. Pets provide companionship, entertainment, and educational opportunities. But remember that pet care is also serious business.
Pets are creatures that require regular care and attention. Their maintenance is an ongoing cost.
Pets can provide useful information about self-control, dedication, and responsibility. Children may require adult supervision when interacting with some pets.