One of the most rewarding things I’ve experienced as a parent is watching my children develop a love for animals. We have a cat and a dog at home and my three children take turns feeding and playing with them. We let our kids tag along to visits to our veterinarian and we talk openly with them about proper care and treatment of animals both domesticated and wild.
So it wasn’t a huge leap of logic when my six-year-old came to me and asked for his own pet to take care of. Something that he could love that was just his responsibility. After we discussed it a few times and we did lots of research, we settled on a Betta fish. His name is Georgie and he’s fabulous.
If you are having the ‘should we get a pet’ conversation with your kids as well, consider these five animals to get your kids warmed up to the idea of taking care of another creature. Make sure that before you bring home your new critter that you research what a proper and healthy environment looks like for that animal and make sure that you can provide a safe home for your new pet. After all, you don’t want to cave and give in to your child’s constant begging for a puppy when you really aren’t sure if you are ready for one.
The coolest part of having a fish is that you don’t have to walk it. Also, feeding and cleaning are relatively easy, cheap, and not very time-consuming. Betta fish, in particular, are wonderful first pets because they thrive on living a solitary existence and their life span is relatively short at roughly 2 to 3 years. Make sure you buy the right sized tank or bowl, fill it with appropriate rocks and plastic plant life, and learn about proper water conditions and feedings before you give your child a fish. Betta fish come in a variety of beautiful colours and are so much fun to watch.
The most popular type of hamster is the Syrian hamster, also called the Teddybear hampster because it’s so fuzzy and cute. Like the Betta fish, this hampster must live a solitary life and also has a relatively short life span of 1.4 to 2 years. Kids will spend hours having fun watching their hampster run on a wheel or through a tube maze, making nests in their bedding, and seeing them curl up and sleep.
Ok, the first thing to note about a bunny is that they live to be around 12 years old, so the commitment is up there with that of a family dog. But, rabbits are amazing because they have the ability to form close bonds with you and your kids. Not only can they recognise their human friends what the look and sound like but they can interact with them by following very simple commands too such as ‘come’.
If you are cool with a long life span then a turtle might be a good bet. Turtles are incredibly sweet animals that require very little caregiving you lots of time to play and bond. They live to be upwards of 20 years so be absolutely sure you want to invest in a turtle joining your family before you buy one.
There are lots of kinds of geckos out there but the Leopard gecko makes the best pet for kids due to their docile nature and low maintenance. They are also nocturnal so if your kids want to watch their action then they’ll have to stay up past sundown to see them wake and stir.