• Tierny Krueger

Best Small Pets to Consider for Your Child

Owning a pet can be a rewarding experience for a child. A well-chosen pet can bring years of enjoyment. Pet ownership can also be a chance for kids to learn valuable life lessons as they care for a living creature. Pets can teach children about responsibility and dependability with adult guidance. As an added bonus, some pets give affection in return for a child’s loving attention. We carry a variety of kid friendly pets. To decide which small animal might work as your family pet, you should do as much research as you can prior to purchasing.

Betta Fish

A betta fish may be the perfect “starter” pet for your child. These Southeast Asian natives are adapted to survive in isolation, in surprisingly small amounts of stagnant water. You may not even need aerators, filters, heaters, or chemicals. However, betta fish thrive best in small aquariums with at least two gallons of water, regularly changed, and kept between 76 and 82°F.


The appeal of cold-blooded creatures may be less obvious than that of warm, fuzzy animals, but certain reptiles make awesome pets for kids. Tortoises, Bearded Dragons, Leopard Geckos, and some snake species are my top choices for kid friendly pets.

Added bonus: Reptiles are nonallergenic. However, keep in mind reptiles do carry and can transmit salmonella. Make sure to research specific care requirements for any new reptile pet.


Birds can be excellent pets. Although, owning a bird is more demanding than caring for a tortoise or fish. Some birds are highly intelligent. Others are very social. All birds require almost daily attention.

The relatively inexpensive parakeet may be a good starter for kids who haven’t raised birds before. More expensive (and more intelligent) birds like cockatiels and cockatoos also make great pets, but they may need more attention than parakeets or canaries.

Hamsters Hamsters are easy to care for and can even be trained to use litter, but hamsters can be nippy and wiggly. This makes some hamsters difficult to handle. A hamster will typically live for about three years, so consider how much your child will want to interact with it: If you think they will lose interest in caring for the hamster, these years might seem long, but they could also seem too short if the pet dies, giving your child their first exposure to death. Unless your child has experienced the loss of a family member or friend, the experience will undoubtedly be upsetting, though it can also provide the opportunity for an important life lesson.

Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are gentle and have a sweet disposition, which makes them less likely to bite. Plus, they can be sociable, which means they won't mind being handled -- as long as they are held properly -- and they won't mind if young kids want to interact with them. These cuddly creatures are ideal for a kid who is just learning to take care of a pet because a guinea pig is less likely to get frustrated with its young caretaker. If interest is lost in this pet, consider getting another guinea pig as a companion so it won't get lonely. Guinea pigs have a longer life span -- around five to seven years -- than hamsters do, and they require more time and effort because of their bigger appetite for lots of hay and vegetables. This bigger appetite can make guinea pigs messier than other small pets, so you might have to clean their cage more frequently as well.


Unlike hamsters and guinea pigs, gerbils have a relatively short lifespan -- about two years. It's easy to feed gerbils because they have a standard diet similar to that of rats and hamsters. 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. Gerbils are more sensitive to their environment than other small pets and humidity can give them respiratory and fur problems. If you are concerned your environment might be too humid for a gerbil, consult a veterinarian.


A rat is usually not the first pet on a family's list, but they actually make really good best pets for small children. Rats are generally calm, laid-back, not as nippy, and enjoy being handled a lot. They make ideal pets if you want your child to develop a strong bond with a pet, because they are interactive and able to learn tricks, such as retrieving objects and navigating mazes or obstacle courses. Since rats enjoy interacting with people and things, providing a number of toys and accessories, from ropes to paper towel rolls, will keep them happy and occupied. Rats are also easy to care for. However, like gerbils, rats have a short lifespan ranging from two to three years.


Rabbits are good for young children as long as there is adult supervision. Like guinea pigs, rabbits are good for younger kids because they usually have a very gentle and sociable nature. All rabbits should be spayed or neutered to prevent any aggression or health issues. 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. Rabbit's nails are sharp and they do scratch when trying to jump or get away.


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 properly. They need a diet of chinchilla pellets and hay, with vegetables as a treat. Unlike their small pet counterparts, chinchillas should be provided with a dust bath instead of a water bath. 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.


These exotic prickly mammals may not make cuddly pets, but they are cute, friendly, and relatively long-lived, with a lifespan of five to seven years. And if hedgehogs are handled while still young, they will grow to be social with your child. Hedgehogs also require a different diet containing vegetables and special food with protein because they are omnivores. When considering getting a hedgehog as a pet, make sure to check your local state laws -- it's illegal to own these small mammals in certain states.

Insects and Arthropods

Six-legged creatures might not be the first to come to mind when thinking of pets for children.

However, owning an ant farm can be an entertaining and educational experience for a child.

Hermit crabs are another example of creepy crawlies that are easily raised in captivity.

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