Most children will beg for a dog or cat, but are those really the best pets for kids? While dogs and cats can make great companions for anyone, they also require a lot of responsibility. So, it’s unlikely that a child will be able to handle all of that animal’s care, unless they’re 12 years or older. But that doesn’t mean pets are off the table entirely. Here are seven great pets for new pet parents, making them easier for kids to care for.
What Makes a Pet Good for Kids?
Any pet requires hard work and dedication. But as long as your child understands that, there are plenty of good pets to choose from. Here are some things to consider before deciding which animal will be the best for your family.
They’re Easy to Care for
The best way to make a decision is to choose an animal with basic care requirements. Choose a pet that doesn’t need constant attention each day. It’s also a good idea to select a pet with few expenses so that your kid can help pitch in as needed.
It’s also important to remember that no matter how easy a pet is to care for, you might have to help your kid once in a while. Unless your kid is in middle school or above, it’ll be difficult for them to do everything on their own. Don’t be mad if they ask for your help once in a while. If your kid fails to care for their pet, that animal could die, so any pet should be considered more of a family pet than only your kid’s pet.
They’re Exciting for Your Kid
Even the easiest pets won’t be a good fit if your kid isn’t interested in them. Before getting a pet for your child, make sure your kid understands every care requirement needed. Most kids will be excited to feed their new pet, but not so happy about cleaning up after them. Your kid should be overly enthusiastic about an animal before bringing them home. If they refuse to research the animal or put in the work, then they’re probably not ready for a pet.
Good Pets for Kids
There are endless amounts of pets out there, and the most popular options might not always be the best for your family. So, how do you know which animals to consider? Here are seven pets that make excellent companions for kids and beginners.
#1 – Fish
It’s commonly known that fish are the easiest pets for anyone to care for. While some species of fish are more advanced than others, low maintenance fish like the goldfish and beta fish are simple for even kids to handle. But despite popular belief, these fish still need lots of room to swim. So, instead of keeping them in a small bowl to swim around in circles, help your kid decorate a larger aquarium with lots of places for their fish to hide and explore. Fish live their whole lives in their tank, so they deserve more space than is required.
Kids should have no problem feeding a fish and watching them swim, but they will likely need help cleaning the tank. Aquariums can have germs build up inside, so it’s safer if you clean the tank together to ensure that everyone stays safe. Depending on how young your kid is, you might also want to monitor them when they feed their fish. Too much food can easily kill a fish, but younger children might not understand this. While a fish won’t be a cuddly pet, they’re beautiful to look at and a great starter pet.
#2 – Rat
Some parents might cringe at the thought of keeping a rat in the house, but they’re actually one of the best rodent breeds for kids. They’re nocturnal and can be higher maintenance, but their personalities are perfect for children. They’re friendly, intelligent, and playful. They enjoy being fed and playing with puzzle toys, which are sure to entertain children of all ages. Some rats can even learn tricks! Since they’re more social than other rodents, they thrive best in pairs. But make sure those pairs are the same sex to avoid having rat babies. Like most animals, kids may need help cleaning up after their rats at first.
Other small fuzzy pets like mice, gerbils, chinchillas, hamsters, bunnies, and ferrets are often more popular than rats, but most kids won’t have as much fun with those common pets. All those mammals are often fearful of children and will bite if provoked. Rats are more tolerable of being held and cuddled, and it’s rare that they’ll bite. So, rats are often the friendliest and most exciting for children. Of course, even the friendliest animals can get upset if handled roughly, so it’s a good idea to supervise your kids when they play with their rats.
#3 – Guinea Pig
Luckily, guinea pigs are more small, furry animals that can be good pets for kids. Like rats, they’re also friendlier than rabbits or hamsters. They are even okay with being held and petted, as long as children are gentle with them. It’s rare for guinea pigs to bite, but monitor young children around them. Some families prefer them over rats because they can be active both day and night, so they’re more likely to be awake while your kid is. Additionally, these little fluff balls can often learn tricks, such as jumping over hurdles and climbing up stairs. Many kids love to create little obstacles courses for their guinea pigs to crawl through.
Guinea pigs are also energetic and love having a regular routine. During the day, the love exercising and exploring. So, many families get a large hamster ball so their guinea pig can run around and explore the home. Similarly to rats, guinea pigs are also social animals, so they do best when there’s more than one guinea pig around. Of course, remember to have two of the same sex to avoid unwanted breeding. Guinea pigs are adorable, cuddly little creatures who come in a wide variety of coat colors, so they’re impossible for most kids to resist.
#4 – Crested Gecko
Crested geckos might not be fuzzy and cuddly like a rat or guinea pig, but many kids are more fascinated by scaly creatures. Not only are crested geckos adorable little lizards, but they’re also one of the easiest reptiles to care for. Unlike the rough texture of most reptiles, these geckos are smooth and soft to the touch. They enjoy sitting in their human’s hand, but they can drop their tails if they feel threatened. So, show your kid how to properly handle their gecko to make sure they don’t stress their pet out too much. But even if a gecko loses their tail, it will eventually grow back.
Like most animals, crested geckos need some time to get used to their humans. It might take them about a month to get comfortable with their new surroundings and with being held. Their sticky toes allow them to climb on the walls of their enclosure, so many children find this fascinating. Unfortunately, while easy to care for, these lizards are also nocturnal, so they might not be very active during the day. Having a crested gecko might require more patience for kids, but they’re a great first pet to help teach your kid responsibility. However, crested geckos eat bugs, which might be gross for some kids to deal with.
#5 – Parakeet/Budgie
Birds are not usually good pets for kids, but parakeets are an exception. These little birds are fairly easy to care for and they can be more social than other small birds. Parakeets are known for mimicking sounds like parrots, and they can even learn around 100 unique sounds. They can get along with people of all ages and they also enjoy being around other birds. Parakeets love interacting with kids, so they’re open to gentle handling. They also love when their humans sing to them, and sometimes, they’ll even sing back! Yet, these birds can be startled easily, so don’t let your kids handle them too much.
Parakeets eat a variety of seeds, fruits, and vegetables, which kids can hand feed them. However, it’s recommended that parents help kids with cleaning the bird’s cage. These little birds love having lots of room to fly around, so make sure they have a large enclosure with lots of perches. Like most birds, parakeets also like to have some time outside of their cage. It’s recommended that you let them fly freely around your home at least once a day. They also like to be near their humans often, so keep them in a room that you spend a lot of time in.
#6 – Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
Bugs do not seem like good pets for kids, and in most cases, they’re probably not. But Madagascar hissing cockroaches are far from your average bug. They sure aren’t cute and cuddly, but they can still be fascinating for kids of all ages. They’re one of the world’s largest cockroaches, and many kids are amazed by the unique hissing sounds these critters make. They’re large enough to be handled if your kid wants to, but these bugs won’t mind if you leave them alone.
These cockroaches need a large tank with plenty of room to explore, but once everything is set up, their care is easy. They eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and love to hide in dark spaces in their tank. These aren’t your ordinary cockroaches, so you can’t just pick one up from outside and keep it as a pet. But luckily, if your kid needs help caring for their pet, these bugs are easy and don’t take much extra time or effort.
#7 – Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are really only suitable for older children, ages 12 and up. They are a unique pet with more care requirements than a crested gecko, but still fun to have around. They’re great around kids because they don’t mind being handled and they almost never bite. But younger kids might be too rough with them, which is why they’re considered a more advanced pet. Bearded dragons eat a variety of both plants and bugs, so your kid can’t be squeamish when feeding their pet creepy crawlies. Feeding a bearded dragon is a great way to start socializing them.
Unfortunately, these lizards don’t have as basic care requirements as the other pets on this list. They need special lighting and temperature control to stay healthy. A responsible child should have no problem staying on top of these things, but you might have to remind them once in a while. Bearded dragons can also be more expensive than other small pets, so you and your child need to be able and willing to put in the extra money.
Is Your Kid Ready for a Pet?
Not all kids are ready for a pet, and that’s okay! Don’t rush them into the decision if their heart isn’t truly in it. Yet, if it’s clear that your kid is determined to care for their new pet, then spend plenty of time preparing beforehand. Make sure you have all the supplies ready and take your time when picking out the perfect pet.
Here are some things be sure of before getting a pet for your kid:
- Your kid should be certain they want a pet.
- They should be willing to handle all the pet’s care requirements.
- They should be willing to thoroughly research the animal beforehand.
- Your family should have enough free time to care for the pet each day.
- Your kid should be good at remembering things and sticking to a schedule.
If all the above are true for your child, then they should have no problem caring for a pet. Just make sure you choose one that they’re interested in and that they’re capable of caring for. Getting a pet is a huge decision, so you should always take your time before going through with it. After all, that animal could become your child’s best friend if they’re dedicated enough.