4 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)
Most kids love animals. As soon as they can talk, they’re probably begging for a pet of their own. But despite popular belief, most common pets are not kid-friendly. Plus, most kids aren’t ready to commit to a pet all on their own. So, if your kid wants a pet, you need to be willing to help them and you need to make sure they’re responsible enough to handle it. If those two things are true, then you’re ready to choose a very easy pet for your child.
Best Animals for Kids
Many humans assume that any small animal will be easy for a kid to care for. Yet, some animals like hamsters, ferrets, and axolotls are harder to care for than they seem, and they’re not cuddly like kids prefer. So, here are four pets that are considered good pets for kids.
Rats might look creepy to some, but they’re actually some of the friendliest small mammals. Kids love rats because they don’t mind being handled and they can even learn tricks. Unfortunately, they’re nocturnal and their enclosures can be hard to clean, but overall, they tolerate kids much better than other small pets.
Like rats, guinea pigs are also friendlier than smaller rodents. They’re similar to rabbits, but they’re easier to care for and more tolerant of kids. Plus, many humans think they’re adorable. They might not be able to learn tricks as well as rats, but they generally live several years longer.
Budgies, also known as parakeets, and the easiest birds for kids to own. However, birds aren’t as playful and cuddly as guinea pigs and rats, so they do best with a kid who’s a little more experienced. They tolerate being held really well, and they can even learn to talk. So, they’re entertaining for children as long as the kids are responsible enough to care for them.
Of course, fish are one of the easiest pets to care for. It really depends on the fish though. Goldfish and guppies are some of the easiest pet fish, while other popular fish like Betta fish need much larger tanks than people realize. They might not be cuddly and playful, but fish can be a great introduction to pet care for kids, as long as you’ve done your research first.
What Animals Should You Avoid?
If your young kid has never had a pet of their own before, they probably shouldn’t have any animals besides the ones listed above. Most animals have very detailed care requirements, so you need to feel confident in putting that animal’s life in your child’s hands. If your child doesn’t seem enthusiastic about their new pet or if you think they might lose interest, then they’re not ready. Don’t let them get any pet until you’re certain they can handle it.
Most kids will ask specifically for a dog or cat, but those are the types of pets your kid shouldn’t have on their own. I think it’s great for kids to grow up around dogs, but a dog shouldn’t be their sole responsibility. Dog and cats are some of the most time-consuming pets, so they should be cared for by the entire family, not just by one kid.
A Parent’s Role
When you get a pet for your kid, you need to remember that it’s more of a “family pet” than only your kid’s pet. That’s because if your kid is under 12 years old or if they’re not responsible, then it’s unlikely that they’ll take full responsibility of an animal all the time. Even if you’re confident in your child’s ability, you’ll need to be willing to step up to help care for the pet just in case something goes wrong. You wouldn’t want an animal to die just because your kid couldn’t handle the care.
It’s great for kids to have pets because they can teach them responsibility. Plus, you know your kid better than anyone else. So, decide to get them a pet when the time feels right. Don’t surprise them with an animal as a gift, but instead, talk through it as a family and do lots of research together. Getting a pet, even a small one, is a big decision. That pet deserves love for their whole life, so make sure your family is ready to take on another living creature.
No matter what pet you get, please visit rescues and shelters before anything else. You’ll be surprised to see that a variety of animals end up at shelters, not just dogs and cats. Plus, taking in an animal in need is a great experience for any child to be a part of. Adopting a dog at 12 years old was what started Molly’s passion for rescue animals, after all.
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