Growing up, I always wanted a pet for myself. I always thought that pets are so cute and fluffy and that it would be nice to have something to care for that would return my affection – something I wouldn’t be able to do with my toys or plants.
With kids, most of them are excited by the thought of having their own little friend. However, there is a lot of patience, time, and effort involved in caring for any animal, regardless of how “low maintenance” they may seem to be.
But I assure you that caring for a pet, in itself, is a rewarding experience. It opens many opportunities for your kids to learn about responsibility, patience, dependability, and other qualities required when taking care of a living thing.
Let me tell you now, it’s worth it. To help you decide, here’s a list of pets to consider getting for your kids!
PET # 1: Rodents
I know, I know. For some of you, this shouldn’t even be a part of this list, but hear me out. I understand that mice or mice-like creatures aren’t for everyone. Still, smaller mammals are easier to raise, and their lifespan is relatively short. Rodents include Rats, Mice, Guinea Pigs, Hamsters, and Gerbils. Most of them require very little space and are pretty straightforward to take care of. But, of course, they need food, water, an area for play and exercise, and pooping!
However, they aren’t recommended for tiny kids or those who may tend to grab and cling to them tightly as this might suffocate the animal. I would advise that they handle the pet only with adult supervision, especially for the younger kids. And, if you aren’t averse to it, they’re pretty cute when they play around in their enclosures!
If you’re looking to buy a rodent for your kid, make sure you pay attention to the type of enclosure that you will house them in. Choose enclosures and items that are sturdy and will last a long time. While they do have a short lifespan, they still can live up to 3 to 5 years with good care.
If you’re also looking to buy two or a pair, I suggest getting two females, so they don’t breed – they multiply pretty fast.
PET # 2: Turtles
Turtles are also pretty easy to raise. They’re on this list because they’re non-allergenic. With good care, they can also live to 50 years or more, making them a pretty good life companion. The care is pretty simple, but they require a lot of space and a lot of sunlight (but not direct!). Turtles require 10 gallons of swimming space for every inch of their shell’s diameter.
FUN FACT: A full-grown female red slider turtle may be as large as 12 inches in diameter in shell diameter. This means they may eventually require about 100 gallons of swimming space.
The enclosure itself can be easy to maintain with the right equipment (tanks, filters, water systems, etc.). However, if you’re up to the challenge of taking care of a turtle for a long, long time, it’s better to invest in good systems that can cut the effort in half. I’d also recommend that you go for a bigger tank whenever you can, it might look silly for a tiny turtle in a giant tank, but they do grow up really fast.
PET # 3: Fish
Fish has about the same space requirements as turtles, but they don’t grow the same size. The betta fish, or also known as the fighting fish, is the perfect fish for kids. These types are solitary and have really long fins that vary in many different vibrant colors. A betta will be perfectly happy in a 4-gallon tank and can also survive in a bowl, but that would require more frequent water changes. These fish love to show off their colors and are calming to watch as they swim. You can also decorate the aquarium space however you’d like (but make sure that you still leave them plenty of room to swim around in)!
FUN FACT: Betta fish are carnivores and will appreciate a treat of bloodworms! But don’t worry, they can survive with pellets just fine!
Whether it’s a fish, a rodent, or a turtle, all of these animals require care specific to them. These are my recommendations, but it would be best to open this discussion with your kids and invite them to do research with you! Then, it’s up to us parents to guide them into this exciting chapter in their lives. Involving them early in finding which pet feels best for them also helps you check what appeals to them and what they also feel ready for.