When you're looking to add a pet to your family, there are many options to choose from and it can be overwhelming to decide what is best for your current lifestyle. Small pets are good options for children older than 5 because they can be a great way to teach them responsibility. To decide which animal might work as a family pet, you should do as much research as can to ensure you understand everything you need to know.
Pets differ greatly in terms of their needs and how they interact with kids, before you welcome the right pet into your home, keep in mind that each one has unique needs and characteristics.
Fish are best for families with kids, even babies, and limited time and/or space. You can go as basic as a fishbowl with a couple of goldfish or set up a more elaborate aquarium. Fish need to be fed daily with fish food available at pet stores. The tank should be cleaned each week.
Hermit Crabs can also be best for families with even very young babies and limited time and/or space. Hermit Crabs are social animals and do best in groups. Hermit crabs need a tank that maintains humidity (no lower than 70 percent, but no higher than 90) but lets in fresh air. They'll eat most foods and especially like fruit. Hermit Crabs will need larger shells as they grow. Properly cared for hermit crabs can live as long as 10 years.
Turtles are best for families with toddlers old enough to handle a pet gently. Turtles require a tank that is at least 40 gallons, and has a water and land areas with a sun lamp. Check with the pet store to determine what to feed your turtle and the best temperature for the tank based on the kind of turtle you choose. When properly cared for turtles often live 30 to 40 years.
Frogs are best for families with plenty of time and with kids old enough to handle a pet gently. Frogs are a fairly labor-intensive pet. They require a well-ventilated aquarium that's either all water or part aquatic and part land and temperatures must be maintained with heat lamps. Frogs typically eat live mealworms, insects, and larvae. Properly cared for frogs have an average life span between 5 and 15 years.
Hamsters are best for families with kids old enough to handle them gently. Hamsters require a roomy aquarium or cage lined with shredded newspaper or wood chips, which needs to be changed twice a week. Hamsters like having a quiet spot within their cage to go to. Hamsters have specific feed and you can also offer spinach, lettuce, carrots, apples, etc., and give them water from a hanging water bottle. Properly cared for hamsters live an average of 2 to 4 years.
Birds are good for families with even young babies, but kids should not handle the birds. Birds require a cage large enough for them to stretch their wings and make short flights. The cage should have horizontal bars for climbing and should be cleaned weekly. You'll need bowls for water and bird seed and toys to keep the bird occupied. Life span varies by breed, but the average life span is 15 to 30 years.
Rabbits are best for families with toddlers who are old enough to handle them gently. A rabbit cage should be four times the size of your bunny, with a solid (not wire mesh) floor and a litter box that should be changed weekly. A rabbit's diet should include quality pellets, fresh hay (alfalfa, timothy, or oat), water and fresh vegetables. A properly cared for rabbit can live 7 to 12 years.
Cats are good for families with young babies. Cats require weekly litter box changes and regular vet checkups. Many cats are content to stay indoors so a backyard is not necessary. They require a constant source of water and daily feeding. The average life span for an indoor cat is 15 to 18 years.
Dogs are best for families with plenty of time, space and energy. Dogs require plenty of affection and exercise, regular vet checkups, occasional grooming and need to be fed two to three times a day. Some breeds are better with children than others, so make sure you research perfect pooch for your family. Life span varies by breed, but the average is between 10 and 15 years.
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. They need a diet of chinchilla pellets and hay, with vegetables as a treat. Chinchillas should be provided with a dust bath instead of a water bath. Buy chinchilla dust (specially formulated to mimic the dust in their native habitat) and place it in a sturdy bowl or deep dish, or purchase a dust house. 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. The average life span of a chinchilla is 12 to 15 years.
No matter which type of pet you choose to get, remember they all have their special needs and require lots of love. Do your research and know what you are getting into with your new family member.