My favourite pets for children

Posted by iChild, July 29, 2021 10:44 AM

By The Next Best Thing to Mummy

In my opinion the best pets for children are:

Rabbits GettyImages-1266695514

I have kept a rabbit or two for most of my life. From regular size rabbits in childhood to two giants as an adult.

If you decide to get a rabbit as a pet for children please don’t let him live at the bottom of the garden in a dirty hutch where he is almost forgotten about. Ideally rabbits should have daily access to a run on grass where they can stretch out and nibble on the grass. Rabbits are social creatures, so more than one rabbit (make sure they're the same sex!) is a good idea. Otherwise, make sure there is a lot of social interaction with the rabbit. He or she will appreciate it! In the wild, rabbits spend their life on or under the ground. Not high up, so they can be nervous when picked up and might  scratch with their hind legs. Again, social interaction will help. Make sure you handle your rabbit in a way that works for pet and child.

Guinea Pigs
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Keeping a guinea pig is quite similar to keeping a rabbit, in terms of housing and food. But guinea pigs don’t scratch with their hind legs as much as a rabbit, so they may be better suited to children as a pet. Guinea pigs are very vocal. A bird-like call will often greet their humans, especially if they are bearing food!

Hamsters
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In some ways, having a hamster is one of the easiest of pets. They don't need a great deal of space (although, of course, they do need a good cage), and so can be kept in the home if you don't have a garden. If they are handled a lot and with care, they are very easily socialised. The disadvantage to having a hamster as a pet for your child is that because they are nocturnal they may be asleep when your child wants to get them out to play. Or they may keep you awake when they run on their wheel at midnight! They don’t live for very long (18 months to two years on average) so this can be upsetting for children when they pass away. But in the meantime, they can bring great joy to a child.

Budgie/Canary
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Attractive and entertaining pets. Male birds usually make the best talkers. When you let your bird out of the cage to fly around, ensure all doors and windows are firmly closed. You could also draw the curtains to prevent them from flying into glass windows, which can be alarming - for both human and bird!

Goldfish
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Another fairly low maintenance pet. And there is something so soothing about gazing at fish in their tanks! Please don’t keep goldfish in a round glass bowl, it is cruel, get the largest aquarium that you can afford and have the space to accommodate. 

Dogs
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Dogs can be fantastic pets for children if you research suitable breeds and breeders before purchasing a puppy. (This photo is of Next Best Thing to Mummy's own well-loved  dog.) Never, ever leave a dog unsupervised with a child no matter how well you know it.

Cats
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Cats are amazing pets. Lower maintenance than dogs, affectionate and amusing, especially kittens, who will pounce on just about anything! If your cat uses a litter tray, keep the tray away from children and empty several times a day.  

Re-homing centres often have animals looking for a forever-home. These will have been given necessary inoculations, been neutered and treated for parasites. Dogs will have also been temperament tested.

Whichever pet you decide to get for children, make sure that they are always supervised around them and be prepared to take over their care if the novelty runs out. Sometimes pets will be a five minute wonder and they still deserve to be cared for correctly should this sadly happen. Lockdown has seen a rise in demand for pets. We used to say, a pet is not just for Christmas, we can now add - and not just for lockdown! A pet is for their lifetimes, and can really enhance your child's and family's life.

Taking out pet insurance for dogs and cats is also something that I recommend.

By The Next Best Thing to Mummy

You can read her original blog here.

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