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Best pets for kids

Updated on March 19, 2013

All kids love animals, but for parents it is always a difficult decision to make when your child comes to you in says they want a pet. You want your child to be happy, but you also don't want to get them a pet that they may accidentally harm. Well, there are a couple things to consider when in this situation. I will help you sort those things out and give a suggestion of a few pets that I think can make great pets for kids

Things to consider

  • How gentle is your child? If your child is as gentle as can be, then they can most likely handle a smaller more fragile pet, but if your child is a bit reckless then they may not be as well suited for that type of pet.
  • Is your child a good listener? We all know that sometimes kids have a habit of saying they understand and then doing what they did wrong again a few minutes later. It's a part of growing up. But if your kid is still at that stage then it may not be the best idea to get them a pet that requires a little extra care or must be handled in a certain way.
  • What type of animals does your child like? Simply put if you get a pet that your child isn't interested in then you just got yourself a new pet.
  • What does your child want from a pet? If you're kid wants a cute, cuddly little friend that they can play with then don't get them a goldfish.
  • How committed is my child? By far the toughest question to gauge, but if you think your child can handle a long term commitment then get it a long living pet, if not then you may want to go with a pet that doesn't live quite as long
  • Can you assist your child with their pet? I'm not saying get a pep should need constant supervision, but every pet, no matter how basic will have a slight learning curve for your child and you should teach them how to care for them and handle them because though it may seem simple, kids can't be expected to know these things right off the bat.

You may be thinking that these are some pretty obvious considerations, but sadly enough many people don't think about these things and that causes an unfortunate amount of pet deaths. So be mindful when making your decision, make sure you and your child understand what each pet will require before going to the pet store or breeded.



Hamsters sometimes get a bed rep. I don't really know why, I guess a few people have gotten bitten and just jumped on the "this pet is evil" bandwagon". But let me assure you, hamsters are not ferocious little savages. They are actually very sweet and funny pets. I'm not saying they don't bite, when i was younger I had a hamster and he bit me several times. But what i've learned from that is 1. hamster bites are harmless, they may hurt a little but that's about it. and 2. Don't try to handle your hamster when he is eating or sleeping. A lot of biting comes at the fault of the human not the hamster. They are prey animals so they can get startled fairly easy. Your hamster will often acknowledge you if you approach it, but make sure it does before going to grab it, if not it may bite. But all in all hamsters are great pets. Your child will have a cute, cuddly little friend that loves to play and usually gets used to being handled pretty quick. Their needs are pretty basic and the only thing that can really be considered a hassle is changing the bedding. It is also important that your child understands to be gentle with a hamster. They normally won't struggle when being picked up so gripping them tightly isn't necessary, in fact they will often walk right on to your hand. One thing that may be considered a drawback is the fact that they are nocturnal. For some families this is good and some it is bad. Sometimes a hamster will be waking up right as your child finishes their homework or in some households they may be waking up right as a child is going to bed. They can also be a little noisy while running on their wheel at night so keep that in mind. They also don't live very long, 3 years is just about the average, or shorter if you get a dwarf hamster. But while they are alive they are great pets that are tons of fun.


Guinea pig

Guinea pigs also make great pets for children. They have similar behavior to hamsters once warmed up to their owners but in my experience they seem to take a little longer to get used to you. But they are very docile pets and rarely bite, they may however attempt to run away if they do not feel comfortable. Something that is important to consider is the fact that they do much better in pairs. They need almost constant companionship and it is best if they are housed together. They also have a more complex diet than a hamster that you may have to help your child with. They can be a bit noisy so it is important to keep that in mind. If you don't like the idea of some squeels every now and again then a guinea pig may not be the most ideal pet for your household. But they are very sweet pets that live anywhere from 5-7 years, sometimes even longer and can be amazing companions for your child. They require more space and a little more care but they can be wonderful additions to your family.



Rabbits are cute, they hop, they wiggle their nose. What else is there to say? A lot actually. They are awesome pets who are great for the whole family. Like any other small mammal they can bite but it is rare. Rabbits, like hamsters can be startled pretty easily so be sure not to sneak up on them or move to quickly. They are also very fragile and must be handled very carefully. Rabbits have a diet just about as complex as that of a guinea pig so your child will most likely need a little help. But though they are fragile and require a little special care they still make awesome pets. They are very social and love attention which make them great for kids who want an animal they can interact with. They are also fairly intelligent and can learn to be litter box trained which can save a lot of time when it comes to cleaning cages. Rabbits also can free roam the house, however you should make sure everything is rabbit proofed before allowing them to run freely. And though it isn't necessary to let them run the house, they do need a couple of hours out of their cages every day. And while it is possible to keep rabbits outside, they live much longer in doors. They also require yearly or bi-yearly vet visits because they are prone to several health issues. And rabbits definitely need to be spade or neutered once they are of age or else there can be behavioral problems and health issues. Rabbits live for about 7-10 years so they are a long term commitment but they will make every second worthwhile.


Leopard gecko

Leopard geckos are definitely of of the best pets for kids who like reptiles. Though setting up the tank, getting equipment, and maintaining the right temperature may be a bit of a hassle, this is still an incredible pet for your child. Other than controlling the temperature there isn't much else to do for a gecko except put some crickets in its tank once in a while and provide water. Reptiles usually just aren't too extatic about being handled. The leopard geck is no exception. It is more on the docile side and once it gets used to you it will let you handle it however reptiles usually don't give you that "hey look how much I'm enjoying this" type of gesture that many other pets will. Also their tails can break off so kids have to be very careful with them. While they aren't the most exciting pets to play with, they are very entertaining to watch and for any kid that loves reptiles the leopard gecko is a great choice. But it lives to be 8-10 years on average and with good care can live much longer so it will certainly take a pretty big commitment.



Finches are fairly low maintenance pets. They really just require a cage, something to stand on, a nest, a cuttlebone, and a few toys. The only thing your child will have to do is change the water and seeds. Finches are fun to watch and come in many different colors. They aren't the type of bird that likes to be handled though so they will really only be a pet that you watch. They chirp sometimes but I've never seen this as annoying and I actually sort of like it. The only real issue is that they are messy. Even if you get a seed guard they will still manage to get seeds everywhere. So before you may want to put some towels on the floor for easy clean up. Finches are very low maintenance pets and getting a couple of them for a child will often provide them with an amazing and interesting pet. It is very entertaining seeing how they interact with each other and they are just always a good time. They live for around 5-8 years and some people have had experiences where they live much longer so keep this in mind before buying one.



There isn't too much to say about goldfish. They are very easy to take care of and with a basic tank set up and daily feedings they can live a long happy life. And long is right. If cared for properly they normally live to around 10 years but can live to up to 30 so be aware of that before purchasing. They can also get fairly large and can need a bigger tank. It is best to put some bottom feeders in the tank with them and for that i suggest a weather loach. They are quite interesting themselves and many people say you can tell when there is gonna be bad weather by watching a weather loach (if they move around sporadically then it is supposed to be an indicator of bad weather). But while goldfish may not do much, to many kids they can be a source of entertainment and all they have to do is sprinkle some fish food in the tank every so often. They are excellent pets for children who may not be ready for other pets or who just enjoy fish. Also if your child wants to keep a pet in their room and you aren't sure about any of the other options, then a goldfish is a pet that you can leave in your childs room with no worries.



A dog is obviously a huge responsibility. However many breeds show incredible patience with kids and will sometimes even appoint themselves as the child's protector. But any way you look at it a dog is a family pet. You have to be sure that the whole house can handle a dog when considering getting one and maybe give appoint your child a certain job such as changing the food and water. Even though dogs are often more expensive and high maintenance than other pets they seem to have a tendency to bond with children and accept them with open arms. If you get your child a dog they will have a long term pal who will always be by there side. Unfortunately, just as wth any pet on the list, some kids will get bored with the dog and it will be the parent's responsibility. But in other cases the child will bond with the dog and they will be the best of friends. But overall dogs make incredible pets for kids and for the whole family. Just research the breeds and make sure you get a dog that fits your family's needs. Saint bernards are gentle giants that are usually very laid back and love kids if you are looking for a suggestion.


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