It's no surprise that most kids love animals, and many kids will start begging for a pet as soon as they can talk. So, it's a good idea to know which pets your kids can handle before having your child pick out a new family member.
However, it's important to remember that pets are living creatures. They all deserve to have the best care possible, no matter how small they are. Pets can be a great way to teach a kid responsibility, but it can be difficult for kids to care for every aspect of an animal's health. So, before choosing a pet with your child, make sure an adult in the household is willing to help the kid care for the pet when needed.
Most kids will gravitate toward popular pets like dogs and cats, but those are some of the biggest commitments you can choose. It's unlikely that a kid will be able to be the primary caretaker for one of those animals at a young age. So, instead, consider a lower maintenance pet as an intro to the animal world. Keep reading to learn about great pets your kids will love and can take care of.
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Even though a lot of people are squeamish around rats, they're one of the best pets a kid can have. They poop significantly less than guinea pigs and rabbits, they're trainable, and they don't live long.
Lifespan: 2 to 4 years
Maintenance: Rats need to be fed every morning and night. Their diets can include rat pellets, fruits, vegetables, and grains. Their enclosure should be cleaned about twice per week.
Space: Each rat should get a minimum of two cubic feet in their enclosure. Rats enjoy both long and tall enclosures, as long as they have plenty of space to move around.
Commitment: Rats are social animals, so you'll need to buy more than one to give them the best lives. To keep them healthy and entertained, they should spend about an hour or two outside of their enclosure each day. Like dogs and cats, kids can teach rats tricks if they're patient.
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If your child prefers scaly animals to furry ones, bearded dragons are one of the easiest and most peaceful reptiles you can choose. They enjoy interacting with humans, and they're more tolerant of being handled than other lizards are.
Lifespan: 7 to 15 years
Maintenance: Adult bearded dragons should be fed once daily. They enjoy both plants and animals, so vegetables, insects, and worms are favorites. If your kid is squeamish around bugs, this isn't the pet for them. You'll also need to spot clean the tank regularly and change the substrate every few months.
Space: 20 gallons is okay for a juvenile bearded dragon, but by the time they're full-grown, you should use at least a 40 to 55 gallon long aquarium tank, but 75 to 120 gallons is ideal.
Commitment: Bearded dragons can be a long-term commitment because of their age, but they don't require much time on a day-to-day basis. Playing with them can help them get used to humans, but frequent human interactions aren't necessary.
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Sea-Monkeys are the ideal first pet for a kid because they require almost no work. They're a type of brine shrimp that comes to life when the eggs are put in water. They come with a kit that has everything you need to get started.
Lifespan: Up to 1 year
Maintenance: Sea-Monkeys only need to be fed once a week with the food that comes in the starter kit. You only need to spot clean the tank occasionally, which can include partial water changes but never a full water change.
Space: Sea-Monkeys come with their own tank, which is suitable for even adults. However, if you want to buy a different enclosure, a 1-gallon tank is plenty of room for them.
Commitment: Other than feeding and admiring Sea-Monkeys, there isn't much else that needs to be done. Everything you need comes in the starter kit, so they're the lowest commitment for a pet you can find.
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Hermit crabs are easy pets, but they shouldn't be touched often. They're docile but may pinch if stressed, so they're not ideal for kids who want a cuddly companion. Many kids like to admire their beautiful shells.
Lifespan: Up to 15 years
Maintenance: Hermit crabs need to be offered food every day. They can be given pellets at all times, and fruits and vegetables a few times per week. Their enclosure should be spot cleaned as needed, and the substrate should be changed about once per month.
Space: 10 to 20 gallons is a good size tank if you only have a few hermit crabs. Yet, you can always give them more space if you wish.
Commitment: Hermit crabs do best when they have friends around, so buy them in pairs or small groups. They're not fond of being handled, so they should stay in their enclosure most of the time. They like to search for new shells, so kids can choose their favorite shells to put in the enclosure.
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Turtles can be great pets for older kids, as long as they're okay with having a pet to admire rather than cuddle with. There are many turtle breeds that can be kept as pets, and many of them have long lifespans. So, if you get your child a turtle, you need to remember that the turtle may still be alive when your kid is an adult.
Lifespan: 15 to 30 years
Maintenance: Young turtles will need to eat every day while older ones only need to eat every two to three days. Most turtles will need to eat a variety of plant and animal food sources, but research your turtle's specific species. Their tank will need a deep clean every two weeks or so, but you may need to spot clean between those times.
Space: It depends on the size of your turtle. Small turtles, between 4 and 6 inches long, need at least 30 gallons. Turtles that are 6 to 8 inches long should have at least 55 gallons of space. Finally, any turtles over 8 inches should have 75 to 125 gallons. If a tank is too small, their shell may not grow properly, so bigger is always better.
Commitment: Turtles require a more detailed tank setup than most pets. They'll need both land and water space to explore, and live plants are always recommended. Aside from basic needs, turtles do not need to interact much with their owners.
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Parakeets, also known as budgies, can make great pets for gentle kids because they're small, social, and can form a bond with their humans. However, the child needs to be patient and take the time to get to know their budgie.
Lifespan: 5 to 15 years
Maintenance: Budgies need to be provided with seeds, pellets, and ideally, fruits and vegetables daily. Along with their balanced diet, their enclosure needs to be washed about once per week.
Space: 18.5" x 18.5" x 18.5" is the absolute minimum for one budgie, but bigger is better. They need lots of horizontal space for flying.
Commitment: Budgies like to live in groups, so if you want one, you'll need to buy them at least one or two friends so they don't get lonely. These birds also love to have flying time outside of their enclosure. At least one to two hours of flying time per day is a great way to give them exercise and help them bond with their humans.