Can We Get a Pet? I Promise I’ll Take Care of It!

Being a parent means hearing the inevitable question, “Can we get a [insert pet here]?” Of course, this means you will have to take some responsibility no matter how many times your child promises to take care of the new family member. If you decide to take the plunge, here’s a list of the greatest first pets that will thrill your child and ease some parental concerns.

Hermit Crabs: Hermit crabs are a very low maintenance pet, but will also teach your child responsibility, as they need to make sure there are big enough shells in the tank for the crab to grow into, as well as water and food.

Small Lizards: These reptiles are good starter pets due to their docile nature, low-maintenance lifestyle and small size. Though delicate in their infancy, once they reach adulthood, they’re resilient and hardy creatures.

Small Birds: For the older, calmer child, small birds are great pets. They are relatively low maintenance and don’t require a lot of attention, especially if you get two that can socialize together, like society finches. Be sure to get them a cage big enough for a little bit of flying and a couple of toys for amusement.

Gerbil, Hamster, or Mouse: These animals are usually good tempered and low maintenance. They also don’t require great lengths of attention. Just make sure the cage is up-kept and that these creatures don’t break free, as they are excellent escape artists.

Guinea Pigs: These animals are very friendly and may squeak with excitement when they see their owner. They love to play and rarely bite. When you and your child are ready for a bigger commitment, Guinea pigs are great practice if a dog or cat is in the future, as they require daily grooming. Consider a pair of females since these are very social animals. A pair of males will fight, and a male/female pair will result in lots of tiny Guinea pigs.

Rats: Unlike their dumpster-diving cousins, domesticated rats (or “fancy rats” as they’re also named) are just as friendly as guinea pigs and also rarely bite. They do require attention and outside play time, but they are low maintenance and even clean themselves. Who knew?

Betta Fish: These gorgeous fish make great pets because they do not require all the heavy duty filters most fish tanks need. They are happy in a small bowl. The only upkeep is keeping the tank clean and making sure the fish is well fed. Fish are also very enjoyable to watch.

An Older Cat or Dog: Adopting an older animal will teach your child responsibility without the hassle of training a younger animal. These animals are usually already well trained and will adjust to people more easily. However, they are still harder to take care of than most pets.

Ants: The time-honored ant farms in the same style as the 1950s are still around, plus today you can also find 3-D ones or other interesting styles. Ant farms can offer hours of entertainment that kids will love. Taking care of them, however, may call for parental supervision. Cleaning the farm and feeding the ants requires adult supervision and/or management.

Smaller Snakes: Snakes can actually be really cool for a child’s first pet. As long as they are non-venomous, snakes can become a kid’s best friend. The only problem that deters most people is that they are carnivores, so as long as you and your kid are ok with that, then snakes can make an interesting and fun first pet. 

Taking care of a pet is a great way to teach a child about responsibility and can also provide a great nature show and education.

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