Your kid’s may have gotten to the age where they’re begging for a puppy. You’ve tried to explain that it’s a lot of responsibility and time.
But then they hit you with that look: big, watery eyes followed by a pouting face.
Ah, the look.
You might be hesitant, but maybe you realize that owning a pet is vital in teaching empathy, responsibility, and beneficial in the fact that they can offer unconditional companionship.
If you’re wondering where to start, then look no further: here are the simplest and most wonderful beginner pets for kids.
1. Sea Monkeys
The miniature shrimp start out in a packet of powder and when put into a body of water, they “revive” and begin to grow. Soon enough, you’ll see hundreds of little bodies swimming and dancing around in the water.
This is a great starter pet for those who are just starting out with the concept of caring for and being responsible for a living creature. Bonus: Sea monkeys love the light, so if you use a flashlight into their tank, they’ll all swim to it. They’ll also follow your fingertip!
A step up from the sea monkeys, fishes are a great starter pet — though they are not as simple as one might think. Whether you get a betta fish or a goldfish, fish require the proper size tank and filtration in order to live a long and healthy life.
In fact, bettas can live up to five years with the right care! If your child is unenthused by the idea of a fish as their first pet, then let them know that despite common knowledge, fish learn to recognize their owners and can even be trained to do tricks.
Although turtles are popular, tortoises are easier pets. Tortoises don’t require a tank full of water to spend most of their time in, which means that there’s much less mess to clean. They are simple, quiet, and don’t shed any fur, but their life span may be longer than yours!
Most tortoises live up to 50 years or more when well-cared for in captivity.
This is definitely a commitment, but tortoises are quite simple to take care of if your child loses interest in the pet after a few years. Some tortoises also don’t mind some isolation as they get older.
If your child wants something to hold, a hamster would be a great starter pet.
They require nearly the same amount of responsibility as a tortoise with frequent litter changes, a fairly-sized cage, access to water, food, a running wheel, and chewable toys.
Hamsters are sociable creatures and wonderful first pets.
When some people hear the word “snake,” it sends a shiver down their spine. Understandably so, but these two snakes are great starter pets because of their gentle and docile nature.
Corn snakes are one of the most popular pet snakes because they are social and also on the smaller side. Corn snakes are docile and can grow up to four feet long, though most of the time they are coiled up.
Ball pythons are another common pet snake for first-time snake owners. They are also docile and small compared to many other snakes. Ball pythons can get up to five feet and enjoy socialization like corn snakes.
The truth about domesticated rats could be nothing further from the horror stories you’ve probably heard.
Rats are incredibly social and sweet animals that do very well with people of all ages.
They are great groomers, can be trained to do tricks and even use the litter box, and also show empathy for their fellow rats. Rats bond with their owners very easily and will be able to spot them out of a crowd, proving their loyal personalities.
Parakeets, or “budgies,” are great pets for children and first-time pet owners. They are small, beautiful, and do very well with other cage-mates since they are so social. Budgies are intelligent and can even be trained to learn words and phrases!
Cockatiels are larger and love to whistle and sing. They love to imitate sounds they hear, so don’t be surprised if your cockatiel begins to mimic the intro to your favorite TV show or your cellphone ring tone.
No matter which type of bird you look into, each love socialization and will amaze you with how much they learn.
Ferrets are one of the best small pets out there: they love to play, are very mischevious, and bond with their owners the same way many other animals do.
Ferrets do well with one to four cage mates and are extremely sociable creatures. Aside from sleeping nearly 18 hours a day, they will perk up when you walk by their cage, ready for the next adventure. They require a lot of socialization and must always be watched when free roaming.
There is a slight odor with ferrets that is probably more noticeable than a hamster’s cage. This is because they belong to the same genus as a weasel and have been “de-scented” prior to buying or adopting.
Although cats require more responsibility than any other animal on this list, they are actually quite low-maintenance! Cats are independent and sleep much of the day—up to 18 hours! They can be left alone for a day or two and are quite self-sufficient.
Like dogs, they do require annual vet visits and must be up-to-date on vaccines. However, they cost much less than a dog and also require much less attention.
Whether you decide to adopt a kitten or a mature cat, they are wonderful pets for children to grow with because of their independence, loyalty, and playfulness.
Benefits of Pet Ownership
A study tested the blood pressure, heart rate, and behavioral distress in a number of children between 3 and 6 years old at two separate doctor visits. Only during one of the visits, a dog was present in the room. In that visit, the children had significantly lower blood pressure, distress, and heart rates as opposed to the visit without the dog’s presence.
Children also benefit from pet ownership emotionally, proving to be more caring and happier than those who grew up without pets.
Aside from the physical and emotional benefits of pet ownership, it is a great way to help teach your child responsibility and empathy.
So the next time your kid hits you with those puppy-dog eyes, consider one of these 9 amazing beginner pets.