It’s inevitable. At some point, every kid is going to start bugging Mom and Dad to get them a pet. Maybe a classmate brought her hamster for show and tell or the neighbor just got a new puppy, and suddenly your kid realizes he’s missing out. If you think your child is ready for the responsibility of caring for a pet, but don’t want to commit to raising a dog or cat, there are plenty of other choices. These animals have reasonable care requirements and are generally considered to be appropriate for kids– with their parents’ supervision of course.
1. Gerbils. Although hamsters have been extremely popular for decades, gerbils are actually superior in several ways. First, unlike the nocturnal hamster, gerbils are active during the day. And unlike the solitary hamster, gerbils prefer to be housed in pairs or groups, meaning all of your kids can have their own gerbil in the same cage. Gerbil care is relatively simple; they need a cage large enough to accommodate their active nature, a quality pellet food, and several inches of soft bedding to burrow into. It’s also very important to provide chew toys to keep their teeth from growing too long.
2. Bearded Dragons. Most moms aren’t exactly thrilled to bring a lizard into their home, but if you’re comfortable with the idea a bearded dragon can be in interesting pet for an older child. They’re more active than many reptile species and are gentle lizards that tolerate being handled. Reptiles do have very specific needs, so it’s important that an adult helps keep an eye on things. Provide a 55 gallon (or larger) aquarium with an easy-to-clean substrate–newspaper is a simple option. Give your bearded dragon lots of branches and flat rocks for basking. It’s critical to provide a heat lamp as well as a UVB light. Feed him a diet consisting of about 20% fruits and vegetables and 80% live insects. Keep in mind that bearded dragons can live for 15-20 years, so this isn’t a pet for someone unable to make that kind of commitment.
3. Guinea Pigs. With their cute, cuddly appearance and playful, social personalities, it’s no surprise that guinea pigs have become very popular pets. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and some even have long, silky hair. They can be housed singly or in groups, but take care to keep the sexes separate to prevent unplanned breeding. Keep your guinea pig in a large wire enclosure with a non-toxic bedding, such as pine shavings. Any pet store should stock pellets especially designed to meet a guinea pig’s unique nutritional needs. Fresh fruits and veggies are good treats too.
4. Parakeets. A bird isn’t an ideal choice for young children, but older kids can appreciate the colorful charm of a parakeet. Though they aren’t the cuddliest pet, parakeets can become tame enough to handle and can even learn tricks. With enough training, they’re capable of talking too. Keep a pair or group in the largest birdcage you can provide; they need plenty of space to exercise and also enjoy time flying outside of their cage. Give them a quality seed mix or pellets, fresh fruits and vegetables, and keep their water dish clean.
Regardless of which pet you choose, be sure to do plenty of research before you bring it home. It’s very important to meet each animal’s unique needs to ensure that it has a long, happy life. A pet is a big responsibility for a kid, so remember that parents must be willing to take care of the animal if the child isn’t up to the task. The decision to bring a pet into your home should be carefully considered, but the right animal can be a wonderful addition to your family for years to come.
Editors, Calebweb.com, consist of Jim and Christine that work together to bring fresh content, press releases, puzzle solutions and uplifting, positive information about our communities and the world we live in. Calebweb.com also provides website design and hosting for customers in the Fairfield, Pickaway and Ross County areas.