Getting a pet for your child is a huge milestone in both of your lives.
It is important to make the right decision with what pet to choose for them and to know why you are doing it.
Dogs and cats might be your first thought, but these two animals are not necessarily the best first pets for children.
They live for a long time and they are a big responsibility.
Of course they are amazing pets, but they could be something for further down the line.
These are our recommendations for starter pets for children with a little explanation on why we have picked each one.
Fish are great starter pets for children because they require minimal interaction, little maintenance, and they don’t live for a particularly long time in general.
Having a fish can still provide your child with the experience of looking after something else, with feeding them and cleaning their tank, but if they slip up a little bit, there will be little damage done.
There is no training to be done and no walks to go on.
They can still name them, interact with them and watch them, and enjoy having a pet.
Hamsters have a relatively short lifespan, of about 2-5 years.
They require minimal training, interaction and maintenance.
They rarely require trips to the vet and they are pretty inexpensive to keep.
All they need is a good clean cage that offers them food, water and exercise.
Children love watching and playing with hamsters, and some children love the company of having them in their rooms, especially because they stay awake at night.
Having a hamster can teach your children a level of responsibility and care for something, without too much effort or commitment.
Guinea pigs are quite similar to hamsters in their low levels of maintenance and vet bills.
However, they do have a longer life span than hamsters, usually up to 7-8 years.
This means you need to make sure your child is ready for this level of commitment. They can’t lose interest after a year and rehome the guinea pig. They are probably best for children around 7-8 years plus.
Guinea pigs will need slightly more room to exercise and move about than hamsters too.
They are fun and adorable, and can teach your children all about care and looking after pets.
Children can gain a lot of skills from having a guinea pig, and it can help them become more loving and caring towards animals.
Rabbits are another little step up of responsibility for children.
They are timid animals with fragile bones and so children must learn to care for them tenderly and carefully. They need to learn to pick them up properly and not spook them.
They need some more room to run about and exercise, and their diet will be a little more complex.
Saying that, they still offer children the same level of experience in looking after an animal that they must care and provide for.
They will learn the importance of cleaning their cages, feeding them regularly, and tending to all of their needs.
Above all else, they are absolutely adorable.