If you’re here, you’ve heard your child say, “Can we get a [type of pet], pretty, pretty, please?” For most parents, this request evokes a sense of imminent doom. After all, many young children are often not yet taught how to handle and respect animals, which means you’ll also have to shoulder some responsibility (e.g. training, pet supplies, vet bills, food, grooming, etc.).
But matching the right kid with the right pet can make everyone’s life better. For first-timers, the age and personality of your kid and how much attention your family plans on giving the pet are essential factors to consider. That’s why it’s crucial to do your homework before choosing a pet for your little one.
We’ve curated this simplified guide to help you get started to make things easier.
Best First Pets For Kids
We start with these unconventional pets that can be great companions for small kids. They’re enjoyable to interact with and can help children learn about uncommon kinds of animals. Moreover, caring for a turtle can be fun, though kids will initially need help from their parents.
Turtles also live longer than several other pets and usually grow significantly over a lifetime. However, for most Australian states, residents require a licence from the National Parks and Wildlife Service to pet this animal.
It would be best if you remembered that it’s banned in a few states like Western Australia. As such, make sure to check the concerned rules and licensing for your region before going ahead to pet a turtle.
2. Guinea Pigs
Looking to bring in a smaller pet that’s easy to handle? If you want your little one to spend quality time with a cute and cuddly pet, guinea pigs are an obvious choice to start with. They also love the company of small kids, another significant factor that makes them ideal as first pets.
And the best part is that you’ll need minimal care to keep them healthy and hearty! Guinea pigs live on a simple vegetarian diet that can be handled more easily than even small rodents like rats or mice.
But, keep in mind that they can munch lots of vegetables and hay at once, making them slightly messier than other smaller mammals. Also, be cautious enough to enclose the cute little mammal in a safe place as they’re nervous and might need a retreat sometimes.
If your kid loves spotting birds in the backyard now and then, maybe you should get a lovely cockatiel for them that’s safe and easy to care for. This Australian native bird will be an excellent choice as it’s affectionate and looks quite intriguing with its white and yellow hue and long tail feathers.
Cockatiels grow to be sociable, intelligent, and friendly, which is why they can be the best of buddies for your little ones. All you need is to raise them in an environment that’s loving, where they get to interact a lot.
An exciting aspect of these birds is they might be able to mimic sounds such as those of doorbells and telephones, which your kid is sure to enjoy. Also, you won’t have to spend much on their maintenance, as they can be fed the standard bird food and won’t need high-quality items. Make sure you get a larger bird cage as they love flying around.
Another delightful bird you can bring as a surprise for your kid is a Budgie or Budgerigar, also native to Australia and usually found in groups referred to as flocks. These birds are docile and gentle and can be befriended quickly, especially by kids.You’ll be glad to know that their bond with kids can grow quite strong over the years.
Feeding on grains, insects, and seeds, Budgerigars prefer flying around where there’s water and food, feeding on grains, insects, and seeds, which is why you’ll need a larger cage for them too. They can also withstand frequent handling and are easy to manage. However, their lower life expectancy of around 7-15 years is a downside of keeping these birds as pets.
Rabbits are always a treat to interact with, thanks to their agreeable nature and cute and furry appearance. And provided they receive the supervision of adults along with adequate care, you can bring them home to keep your little one in high spirits.
The larger breeds of rabbits are generally gentler, though they should be neutered or spayed to rule out aggression. Note that this is all the more important if you plan to include more than one within a single cage. And, keeping them together is ideal considering that they stay hearty in the company of their fellows.
Rabbits also need much more space than other small pets and can be litter-trained like hamsters. Alongside, you’ll need to provide them with the proper diet — full of fresh vegetables, rabbit pellets and grass hay. Rabbits can live for as long as 8 to 12 years if the environment and care are conducive.
Cats, both old and young, can be the perfect company to kids of four and above as they’re adorable and can cheer them up with their spirited disposition. But, the cat you adopt should have the ideal temperament — patient, gentle and friendly.
Choosing a cat as your kid’s pet can positively influence their development, as it may arouse greater empathy and promote social participation. But, cats may sometimes find it challenging to adapt to a new environment, which might manifest as urinary problems or a digestive upset.
That’s why you should talk to a vet to check whether the cat is affected by underlying health problems in case it’s experiencing similar issues. Cats will also need a protein-rich diet high in moisture, with the protein found only in animal meat. That’s why they don’t require carbohydrates or vegetables in their diet.
Petting a few small fishes in a fishbowl or aquarium of the right size can also arouse the interest of your little ones. These cute and brightly coloured creatures can be managed easily and are found in different sizes, colours and shapes. You’ll need to change the water daily and feed them regularly to keep them in good condition.
And, by making your kid engage in these routine activities, you can give them valuable lessons of care and responsibility. Remember that it’s best to go for hardy fish varieties that aren’t too sensitive to the environment, such as barbs and danios, to ensure the fish live longer.
8. Bearded Dragons
Before we end our list, here’s another uncommon pet that can make a great friend to your child, thanks to its gentle and amicable nature. Bearded dragons get their name from the rough and spiny skin beneath their throats, which resembles a beard. But, they’ll need a dry and warm habitat to thrive and a diet of different insects like wood roaches and crickets.
Your little one can also handle them, though extra care is needed to ensure their hands are cleaned beforehand. On a side note, remember to ascertain the relevant licensing conditions in the state before deciding to get a bearded dragon.
Choosing Your Child’s First Pet
You might have figured out the pet that will keep your kid happy and give them valuable life lessons. It’s time to start looking for reliable adoption centres and online sites.
But, ensure your research and know what previous clients say about these sources and how well they managed to take care of the pet. You’ll have to make the final decision with these factors in mind. Another tip is to consult a vet. A vet is an excellent source of information, and some even offer free advice on pet buying.
Pick wisely based on your preferences and practicality, and you’ll have an exciting companion for your kid to look forward to!
That’s all for this guide, we will see you in the next!