Having pets can be a great experience for children. Pets offer love and companionship and teach children responsibility. Small pets are great for kids because they don’t require a lot of maintenance. They don’t need to be walked or played with every day and they offer kids a chance to demonstrate how much responsibility they are willing to take on. Before going out and buying a dog or a cat, train your kids with one of these little critters. Any of these small pets would make a great companion.
1. Guinea Pigs
These furry critters are sometimes confused with hamsters, but guinea pigs are a totally different affair. Guinea pigs are larger and less fragile than hamsters. They are also noticeably more affectionate and sociable. Life spans are longer with guinea pigs, living anywhere from 4 to 9 years. This gives kids a great opportunity to watch their pets grow and mature and even learn tricks. Bigger cages than that of hamsters are required and a full stock of toys to keep those critters active. As with all pets, kids should be made aware of what a healthy diet is. Guinea pigs should have a steady diet that includes a good dose of vitamin C for optimum health. Kids should also be taught how to clean up after their pet to ensure a healthy and happy life for both pet and owner.
The most common pet for young children, goldfish can be a fun and lovely pet to keep. Kids enjoy feeding fish and watching them eat, but should be warned not to overfeed. Overfeeding has often been the demise of pet fish, so take time to explain the feeding schedule to young kids. A decent sized bowl is required and kids will love choosing the different colored rocks for the bottom as well as any plants or accessories. To keep those fish healthy, make sure to show kids how to clean the bowl properly.
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There is something fascinating about watching the lives of ants. Kids will find it interesting to watch ants build their homes and go about their work as they carry food to their lair. Ant farms never go out of style and don’t require much maintenance. Ant farm kits can be purchased from pet stores and regular shopping centers and come with instructions on how to care for ants. Kids will get a kick out of using the holding pen that comes with ant farm kits to capture their new pets from the great outdoors. Watching the lives of ants can demonstrate hard work and organization. Curious kids will be delighted.
4. Stick Insects
These insects are delightful to observe. They have a life span of only about one year, but they are fantastic to behold. A good pet for older kids, stick insects are fragile and should be handled delicately. They can also bite, so gloves should be worn when handling these spindly fellows. The bright side is, no fur, no feathers and all fun.
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Soft and furry rabbit is a great pet for your children. The large selection of rabbit breeds (there are over 40 breeds) make rabbits a popular kids’ pet. Polish, Dutch and Holland Lops are among the most popular bunny breeds, and some larger bunny breeds such as the Flemish Giant are more tolerant of handling. Since rabbits generally live for about 10 years, getting a pet rabbit is a very important commitment. Rabbits are social animals so it’s better to buy a few rabbits, but make sure that all rabbits are spayed or neutered to avoid unintended breeding. Keep in mind that rabbits don’t like to be picked up or held and incorrect handling can result in the nails of a rabbit scratching a kid, or a rabbit’s legs or back being broken or injured.
Rabbits don’t need baths because they groom themselves just like cats, but they require regular nail trims. A rabbit with maloccluded teeth need regular tooth trims done only by a veterinarian. Long-haired rabbits usually require everyday brushing. Rabbits must eat hay, so if anyone in the house is allergic to hay, a rabbit won’t be a good pet for your family.
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The amazingly busy and beautiful hamster is a pet that’s really fun to watch. There are 5 species available, including the Syrian, Winter White, Roborovski, Chinese and Campbell’s. Chinese hamsters are illegal to have in some states, so be sure to check it before buying. The life span of the hamsters ranges from one to three years, but the Syrian could live longer. The Syrian must have its own habitat, since they fight, sometimes even to the death. Hamsters are the busy pets and they are always on the go. It’s fun to watch them play in a play area or in their habitat. The only disadvantage is the hamster’s sleep schedule. Hamsters sleep during the day and are awake and busy at night. Hamsters are self-groomers and they usually don’t need anything except a dust bath with the special dust.
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I’m sure many people will agree that touching a super-soft fur of chinchilla is a pleasant sensation! Chinchillas live about 10 years old. Since chinchillas are herd animals, they must be kept as pairs (same-sex to avoid breeding). Like hamsters, chinchillas are pets more to appreciate by watching rather than interacting with them. Pay attention that handling can be difficult, and if you grab the fur wrong it can cause it to come out in clumps. Chinchillas require a dust bath several times a week. They also like to chew and they have constantly growing teeth, so to keep their teeth trimmed make sure to give them some chew items. Just like rabbits, chinchillas must eat hay, so if anyone in the house is allergic to hay, a chinchilla won’t be a good pet for your family.
8. Rats and Mice
Mice and rats are small pets that simply perfect for children. An average rat’s life span is 2 to 3 years, so the time commitment is really low. Mice have less of a time commitment, because they live only 1 to 2 years. Both mice and rats are social animals and must be housed in the same-sex pairs or groups. But keep in mind that male adult mice might fight if they are housed together.
Rats are more kid-friendly pet and they enjoy interacting with their owners and love to hang out together. Their size is perfect for kids; they are not too small and not too big, but very easy to pick up and carry. Mice are smaller than rats and they don’t like interaction. They usually enjoy doing their own things and they are much more fun to watch than to hold. Both rats and mice groom themselves, so grooming for both pets is minimal. To keep the growing teeth trimmed, be sure to provide them with some chew items.
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The playful gerbils are always busy, smart and they love to hang out with their owners. Gerbils live for about 2 to 3 years, but they pack plenty of living into that time. Gerbils are very social, that’s why it’s better to keep pairs or small groups of the same sex. With gentle handling, they learn to trust their owners and enjoy interacting. Never lift or hold a gerbil by its tail, because the tail is fragile, and the skin might come off leaving a gerbil with a naked tail.
Gerbils are self-grooming pet and they don’t require regular grooming. But, the owners have to offer a dust bath to them every week and always provide them with chew items to keep their always growing teeth trimmed.
It’s important to know that gerbils are illegal to have in a few states, so be sure to check it before buying one.
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Finally, the ever-curious, charismatic ferret is a soft ragdoll when asleep and a furry ball of energy when awake. Generally, ferrets live for 5 to 7 years and they’re full of personality. Ferrets must be neutered or just live in same-sex pairs or groups. You can keep a ferret as a single pet only if you are very attentive owner. Keep in mind that ferrets require several hours of out-of-cage playtime. Ferrets also require very little routine grooming, occasional coat brushing or baths and regular nails trims. Moreover, ferret’s teeth should be brushed regularly.
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There are many different pets to choose from, and finding the one that suits your kid is key. Guinea pigs have all the fun, fur and cuteness kids love. Gold fish are beautiful and fun to feed. Ants and stick insects are entrancing and little trouble to keep. All these pets are great for kids because they don’t require a lot of up-keep. Pets are great companions for kids and a wonderful way to teach responsibility. Take a trip to the pet store and see what catches your kid’s eye. What do you think of my list? Which pets are great for children? Please comment below and thanks for reading!