Owning a pet can benefit a child in a variety of ways. Pets offer children companionship and provide a special type of comfort. Learning to treat a pet kindly and patiently is great practice for future relationships. Ease into pet ownership with these great first pets for children.
Guinea Pigs make excellent first pets for children. On average, guinea pigs live 5-7 years, longer than most rodents. They are hardier and not as fragile and skittish as rabbits, gerbils, and hamsters.
Caring for a guinea pig is relatively straightforward. These animals require hay, fresh food and water, and fresh vegetables daily. They also need a vitamin C supplement specially formulated for guinea pigs. Guinea pigs love exploring, so their weekly cage cleaning is a good time to let them out to stretch their legs.
Guinea pigs have distinct personalities. Some are shy, while others are outgoing and friendly. They are also vocal and make a variety of sounds to communicate with their owners. From purrs to squeaks, you’ll know how your guinea pig feels! When choosing your guinea pig, make sure you spend time with them to determine whether their personality is a good fit for your family.
Many people are surprised to learn that hamsters make excellent pets. Inquisitive and intelligent, these aren’t the same rodents you might find in your local subway! Unlike their rodent cousins, hamsters are specially bred for their friendly and interactive temperaments. You can find a pet hamster through a specialty breeder or adopt one through an animal shelter.
Hamsters bond with their owners and love to exercise, so they make a great pet for an older child who wants a small animal they can handle frequently. Like guinea pigs, hamsters require a large wire cage with paper-based bedding, in addition to fresh food and water daily.
Unfortunately, these adorable rodents only live an average of 2 years. However, this shorter life span might appeal to families who want to ease into pet ownership.
Fish are great first pets for children because they are relatively low maintenance. They don’t need training, grooming, or veterinary exams. With supervision, even a very young child can learn to feed a fish.
Fish are great for a busy family who may not have time to give their pets much attention and playtime. They’re also suitable for people with pet allergies and can be a great trial run to see if kids can handle the larger responsibilities of a pet like a cat or dog.
Take the time to learn about the different types of fish and the care associated with each. While many fish make great starter pets, here are a few options that are great for children to look after:
- Neon Tetras
While fish generally aren’t that interactive (although some goldfish have been known to learn tricks!), simply watching a fish swim can have a calming and tranquil effect on children.
The world of pet reptiles is extensive, and many make great pets for kids. However, the Leopard Gecko is the perfect starter pet. These colorful critters come in a variety of colors and are easy to handle. They’re also active in the early morning and evenings, so your child can interact with them before and after their school day.
Leopard Geckos live a long time in captivity, around 10-20 years, so make sure your family is ready for the long-term commitment. If you do decide this gecko is right for you, they don’t as much special care as other reptiles.
Setting up your Leopard Gecko’s habitat takes a bit of planning, but this is where your child can take responsibility. Do some research together and have your child make a list of everything their gecko requires, and give them the responsibility of setting up the terrarium for their pet.
Sea Monkeys aren’t underwater primates; they’re actually a hybrid breed of brine shrimp! Sea Monkeys are the ultimate low maintenance pet. If your child badly wants a pet, but you just can’t dedicate the time to another creature, Sea Monkeys might be the perfect solution.
You can purchase everything you need for your Sea Monkeys online and watch them hatch from eggs almost as soon as they hit the water. Your child only needs to feed their Sea Monkeys once a week, and they never need to clean their tank. Caring for a Sea Monkey is a low stakes way to help your child learn how to responsibly and consistently provide for a pet. Sea Monkeys also live surprisingly long lives, up to a year in captivity.