If you’re looking to get your child a pet for the holidays, it’s important to note some small animals are more kid-friendly than others. Choosing the right pet is different for every family, and should be chosen based on factors such as life span, interactions, grooming, and diet.
Rabbits can be a great first pet for children, as they’re usually friendly and pretty easy to maintain. Although rabbits don’t typically like to be picked up or held, larger bunny breeds tend to be more tolerant of handling. Rabbits are social animals that thrive best when paired with other rabbits, so if you’re looking to get two of your children their own pet, this could be a great solution. Because rabbits groom themselves, they don’t require much additional beauty care from their owners besides a weekly brushing and spot-cleaning of fur (unless it’s a long-haired rabbit, which requires more frequent brushing). Rabbits can live for up to ten years, so it’s important to keep in mind how old your child is when you get it, as if they’re older, they may be out of the house while the rabbit is still in its senior years.
Hamsters are another great option for a child’s first pet. The life span of a hamster is about one to three years, which makes for a bit less commitment than an animal with a lifespan of 10+ years. Hamsters do just fine alone, but if paired, should be with another hamster of the same-sex to avoid unwanted breeding (Syrian hamsters must be kept alone, or they will fight, sometimes to the death). Hamsters don’t mind being picked up and held, which may be a great fit for hands on children, but they’re always on the go and won’t want to sit still for long. Hamsters self groom, and don’t require much additional grooming from their owners except the occasional dust bath.
Guinea pigs are fun pets for children because they really enjoy human interaction. As herd animals, guinea pigs do best in pairs, but can thrive alone with the right amount of attention from its owner. Guinea pigs are content being held, but have fragile backs so it’s important to be very gentile with them. They will need occasional to frequent brushing depending on the length of their hair, and their lifespan is about five years.
When choosing a pet for your child, it’s important to remember that small animals aren’t the same as toys, and may require a lot of attention and extra help from the whole family!
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local pet store if you have questions on this or any pet related topic.