If you are looking to get a pet for young children, you may want to look past cats and dogs. They can be more difficult to care for, less affordable, and they require a lot of attention. Instead, you may want to get your children a smaller pet that’s easier to manage. Plus, it can be a good way of teaching them responsibility at a young age.
However, getting your child a pet, even if it is smaller, is a big decision, requiring careful planning and research. Some popular smaller pets, like guinea pigs and hamsters, may be similar in appearance, but have very different need and modes of interacting with children. Here are some pets that you might want to consider that are considered good first-time pets for kids.
Hamsters are classic pets, easily cared for and you can even train them to use litter. However, they sometimes do tend to be pretty aggressive, especially the females of the small breeds. Sometimes this makes them hard for children to handle. You might consider adopting a larger breed of hamster, such as the Syrian hamster, one that is easier to handle.
Hamsters need to be provided with roomy cages, containing tunnels as well as nesting areas where they can sleep. At the same time, the cage should be easy to clean. They typically live about three years. If they die early, it might upset your child. However, it will teach them an important life lesson about loss, allowing you to guide them through it.
Even though guinea pigs and hamsters are from the same family of rodents, they are quite different in their demeanor. Guinea pigs are gentler, possessing sweeter dispositions, and usually have less of an inclination to bite. They are also sociable and easy to handle provided they are properly held. These cuddly creatures are relatively safe to interact with kids. Guinea pigs are also less likely to become frustrated with children.
They also have a longer lifespan than hamsters at about 5-7 years. They do, however, require more attention than hamsters, particularly when it comes to feeding. Guinea pigs are known for having quite large appetites for vegetables and hay. You may also want to get two of them to prevent them from getting lonely. They can also be pretty messy, meaning their cages will need more frequent cleaning.
Gerbils are not that difficult to take care of. In fact, they don’t require much attention at all. They are the ideal pets for children who don’t want to be greatly invested in taking care of their pets. They have a very short lifespan of around 2 years. They are easy to feed, having similar diets to hamsters and rats.
They are not generally aggressive, meaning your child can hold them. However, they are quite quick and are often difficult to catch in the first place. They will be extremely active in their cages and this could possibly attract your child’s attention. They are very sensitive to their surroundings, more so than other smaller animals.
It’s worth noting that they don’t like humidity, which can cause them fur and respiratory problems. Consult a vet if this happens.