Becoming a pet owner is an incredibly gratifying experience. Not only do pets reward us with love, but they can also help reduce stress and teach valuable lessons like the importance of patience and responsibility.
Dogs and cats are by far the most common household pets, but you may be hesitant to bring one into your home if you have a small child. You might be worried about your child’s safety or aren’t ready for the kind of commitment they require.
However, a smaller animal like a hamster or rabbit could be an option. Read on to learn about why small pets make great companions for younger children.
Why You Should Welcome Small Pets Into Your Home
Pet ownership can teach children many important things. Kids that grow up around pets display higher levels of confidence and empathy than kids who grow up without pets. Adopting a small pet allows children to explore these lessons at their own pace.
Additionally, small pet care can be easier than taking care of larger pets like dogs or cats. This allows younger children to learn about responsibility without the headaches that can sometimes accompany owning a larger pet.
You’ll still need to ensure that the small animal is well-fed, has an appropriately-sized enclosure, and receives the right amount of socialization, but won’t have to worry about coming home to puddles on the floor or scratch-marks on your furniture.
Sadly, small pets have a shorter lifespan than larger animals. While this can be a serious downside, it also allows you the opportunity to teach your child about loss and can help foster respect for all living beings.
The Best Small Pets for Children
The ideal “pocket pet” is sociable, affectionate, and open to being handled by your child. These pets should be at the top of your list.
Guinea pigs are perfect for younger children because of their gentle nature. They’re soft, cuddly, and laidback. Once you teach your child how to handle one, they’re very unlikely to bite or get frustrated with being held.
Like guinea pigs, rabbits are tender, loving creatures. Your child will love petting their soft coat and watching them hop around. Caring for them is relatively easy and they can even be trained to use a litter box.
Small Pets to Avoid
Not every small pet is a good match for a small child. Some can be skittish or difficult to care for.
While these small rodents are one of the most common pocket pets, they don’t always work well with small children. Hamsters can become easily frightened, and a small child may not be able to handle the scared animal appropriately. This could result in bitten fingers, tears, and stress for your child and their pet!
Many reptiles are nocturnal, so your child won’t have much time to interact with their pet. They also require specific diets and habitats, making them harder to care for.
Pocket Pets are Great for Young Families
Small pets can be a great way to introduce your child to the world of pet ownership. Along the way, they’ll learn responsibility, compassion, and empathy. Make sure to choose a small pet that’s simple to care for and has a gentle disposition.
Midlands Pet Care provides pet burials and cremations. We’ve been helping families grieve the loss of their beloved companions since 1995. Reach out to us on our website.