Pets are a great way to teach values such as compassion, caring and responsibility, and having a pet will give your child a friend to spend time with.
- Hamsters are easy to care for and can be trained to use litter. However, hamsters have a tendency to be rather nippy, and females can sometimes be aggressive. Larger breeds, such as the Syrian hamster, can adapt easier to being handled and would be better for small kids.
- If you’re worried about hamsters being too aggressive for your kids, consider a guinea pig! These small animals have a gentle demeanor and don’t mind being handled as long as it’s done correctly. Guinea pigs also have a longer life span (5-7 years) so consider that and your child’s age when deciding to get one of these cuddly pets.
- If you want to teach your child responsibility, get him or her a gerbil. According to Parents.com, “unlike hamsters and guinea pigs, gerbils have a relatively short lifespan -- about two years. Gerbils are not usually aggressive, so they can also be held, but they are very fast, so it won't be easy to hold them for long. This quickness means a lot of activity in the cage, which could pique your child's curiosity.”
- If your child wants an interactive pet to form a bond with, a rat is a good choice. Rats are small pets that can learn tricks, are calm and laid back, and don’t mind being handled. Rats are easy to feed and are easily occupied by basic toys, but they also have short lifespans (2-3 years), so consider that when choosing this pet.
- Rabbits are good for young children as long as there is also adult supervision. Like guinea pigs, rabbits are good for younger kids because they usually have a very gentle and sociable nature. This is especially important if you want to keep more than one rabbit in the same space. A rabbit can live from 8 to 12 years, can be litter-trained, and is easy to care for.
- Chinchillas are a more exotic option for kids who want to watch what their pet does rather than have direct interaction with it. Although they're gentle, chinchillas can be very agile and quick and may not be appropriate for young children who aren't able to handle them. A chinchilla needs a dust bath two to three times a week, given outside of its cage; the cage should be multilevel so it can climb up and down. With a lifespan of around 12 to 15 years, chinchillas tend to live much longer than guinea pigs and other rodents.
- Fish are also a great pet for small children, especially those who aren’t comfortable with a hands-on experience, but want to observe, instead. Feeding the fish and learning to clean the tank will teach them responsibility.
For more ideas, talk to your child’s teachers to find out how they can learn responsibility through having a pet!
At Little Angels Preschool & Daycare, we believe that experience-based learning is the best way to let kids grow. To find out more about why we're the most trusted preschool in Ann Arbor, schedule a tour of our facility today!