The Best Small Pets For Children

Helpful information for parents when getting a small pet for a child. Hamster, gerbil, rat, or mouse, which is best for your child?

Have you ever taken your children to the pet store "just to look at the cute little animals" only to find yourself giving into the your child's pleading, and going home with a new pet? Before you know it you find that you, not your child, is the care giver for that cute little gerbil, hamster, mouse or rat. Your child has lost all interest in his little friend that he fell so in love with at the pet store.

This happens to many parents. We want our children to have the experience of owning and caring for a pet. To make this more successful for both you and your child, there's a few things that can help you match your child with the right pet. Knowing a little about the habits, required care, and disposition of each of these animals can help you make a better choice. Hamsters gerbils, rats, or mice can all make great pets, but not all of them is the right pet for every child. Here's some things that can help you make that decision.

1. HAMSTERS. Hamsters are by all means cute little animals, coming in several different colors, some with long hair, others with attractive markings. They are sure to catch the eye of any child. Hamsters require only minimal care. The basics; food, water, bedding material, vitamins, and maybe a toy or two, is about all it takes. What some people don't know is that they are nocturnal animals. By nature, they will sleep most of the day and be active at night. If your child want a little pet that's awake during the day, a hamster might not be the best choice. They are sometimes even cranky when awakened during the day. When startled or hurt, hamsters can deliver quite a bite. Very young children sometimes have a hard time learning how to handle small animals properly, and this should be kept in mind when thinking about a hamster.

2. GERBILS. Gerbils are similar to hamsters in their needs. The basics are the same for both. I've found gerbils to sometimes be a little more active than hamsters. They sleep a lot during the day also, and do play at night. Some gerbils can be aggressive, especially when being picked up, or startled. When considering a gerbil, once again think about the age of your child.

3. MICE. There are those who enjoy mice as pets, but in my opinion they're not the best pets for kids. I've raised them and found them to be nervous, skiddish little animals. If there are more than one in a cage, I've seen them attack and even kill each other. Mice also have a stronger odor than that of hamsters, gerbils, and rats, so they need to have their cages changed more often. Mice can be kept as pets, but may not be the best choice.

4. RATS. Rats make wonderful pets for any child who is old enough to care for it. In raising rats I've never had an aggressive one. They actually seem to enjoy human company. They spend more of the day awake than gerbils and hamsters do. They seem to be more relaxed and slower moving, which makes it easier for a younger child to handle them. Rats are clean animals as long as they are provided with good clean bedding. Grooming is a big part of their day. Rats can be a lot of fun for children. Your child can easily train his or her rat to do simple tricks, or come to them on signal. Their gentle nature is probably their best selling point. Especially when it comes to younger children, a rat would be my choice.

The most important things to consider when thinking of getting your child a small pet, or any pet are; 1.Is my child old enough to learn how to handle and care for the pet? 2. Will he or she take the time to feed it and to clean its cage? 3. Am I willing to do it for them if they don't? With small children always remember that animals can bite. Make sure your child is old enough to understand how to hold these little critters. Pets are a great addition to any child's life and can be a wonderful and memorable experience.

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