Are you looking to get your child their first pet? Dogs and cats may be the most common choice; however, they are not the right fit for all families. There are plenty of other animals that require less time and care. A pet can be a great way to teach small children responsibility, but remember, you will likely still be the primary caregiver of your new pet.
When the time comes to choose your new pet, make sure to do your research. Every animal is different and has different needs. You want to keep in mind that you’re signing up to be the guardian of this animal for the rest of their life, that’s a big commitment.
To help you choose which small pet is right for you, we’re breaking down our top five small pet choices that are perfect for young children:
Hamsters are a popular “starter pet” for young families. Hamsters only need a small dedicated area for their cage, so they are perfect for households with minimal space. Hamster care is relatively easy. You will need to feed them daily and clean up their habitat on a regular basis, but other than that, hamsters require little attention.
It should be noted that not all hamsters will take to being handled. In fact, some can be quite prone to nipping at your hands if you try to touch them. However, others are perfectly fine being picked up and enjoy interacting with small children. If you’re adamite about adopting a pet that will take to being carried, then be forewarned that you don’t know what you’re going to get with a hamster.
Guinea pigs are closely related to hamsters but are a very different little critter. Guinea pigs tend to be much more approachable and open to being handled. Guinea pigs are very social animals so they will be eager to interact with you and with other animals. Because guinea pigs are so sociable, it’s a good idea to adopt these pets in pairs.
Guinea pigs are much large than hamsters, so it should come as no surprise that they have much large appetites. You can buy guinea pig food at your local pet store, but they also love a diverse diet of free cut fruits and veggies. Although they are small pets compared to dogs and cats, guinea pigs have big personalities and will keep your family entertained for hours.
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For many people, the idea of voluntarily bringing a rat into their home is a non-starter. However, rats actually make wonderful pets, especially for small children. Rats tend to be far less nervous than hamsters, so they will be more open to being held and less likely to nip at your fingers. If your pet wants a companion that will be willing to tag along with them all day, a pet rat will happily travel in your arms for as long as you’d like.
Another great thing about rats is that they are highly intelligent and eager to learn new tricks. You can teach your pet rat to do tricks, run through mazes and more. Rats are naturally curious animals so you will want to have plenty of toys for them to play with.