Pets are great at keeping you company as well as helping your kids learn about the concept of responsibility, and caring. If you are not ready to maintain a dog or cat quite yet, or if you don’t have the required space in your home for a larger pet, don’t worry-there are plenty of tiny and adorable little animals out there that you can bring home. However when you bring home small pets, you must choose carefully as all of them have different characteristics and some might want to cuddle with you, while others are better at a distance.
If you are planning to get a pet for your kid who is aged under 10, you might want to consider an option that doesn’t get aggressive if handled roughly, as kids aged between 7 to 10 years old tend to be active and might handle the pet in some manner that it finds uncomfortable, resulting in harm to the child and pet.
However, you do not have to work your head around all that because we did the research for you, and are proud to present this list of the ten most adorable, friendly creatures that you can raise at home. We have pet birds, rodents and rabbits and all of these cuddly animals have different behavioral characteristics and requirements in terms of space and food. Choose the one that suits you best.
Top 10 Best Small Pets to Consider for Your Child:
Hedgehogs are really cute small pets animals who need very little attention, but mind you- if you don’t socialize often with your hedgehog or pet it, the hedgehog could turn into a biter, which might pose problems later. They are for those people who require a more “advanced” pet. They are solitary animals and prefer to live alone, you can keep them in a rabbit sized cage but keep in mind that they are excellent climbers and might slip out if there is no lid on the top.
Hedgehogs will mostly eat cat or kitten food, but occasional supplements such as eggs, crickets, fruits and vegetables, cooked meats are also required. Hedgehogs need constant baths and are more prone to catching diseases compared to other animals on this list, so be careful. All that aside, they are very good for older kids and can be quite docile and sociable if you interact regularly with them.
Also read: Top 10 Dog Breeds for Kids and Families.
9. Guinea pigs
Guinea pigs are considered as the sweetest and most sociable of any small pets rodent, they are definitely one of the larger rodents out there however. A guinea pig will measure between 8 to 12 inches from nose to tip of the back when fully grown. They are extremely cute, cuddly and like to socialize with their owners and other guinea pigs.
They have a life span of 5-10 years and are great as a “starter pet”, suitable for children of any age group. Guinea pigs are more light tempered than hamsters and are less likely to bite, however require more maintenance as they need regular exercise, their food comprises of commercially available pellets as well as hay and occasional vegetables and fruits.
Pet retailers sell portable enclosures in which your guinea pig can explore the indoor or outdoor environment, and you can even add in little boxes in the Guinea pigs cage for it to play hide and seek. However, it is not recommended to add an exercise wheel to its cage as it could damage the guinea pigs legs and it’s back.
Hamsters are extremely popular due to their cute looks, furry coat and relatively inexpensive care requirements. They are usually okay with being handled, but smaller breeds can get nippy and temperamental, especially females.
The larger breeds, such as the Syrian hamster are much better if you want your children to handle them, as the larger breeds are not as delicate and are quite docile and well mannered. The hamster is a rather solitary and self-entertaining animal so your kids don’t need to exercise it as long as there are tunnels, boxes or exercise wheels in its cage.
Also, buying one hamster is sufficient as they don’t need partners due to their solitary nature. However, they have a rather short lifespan of only 2.5-3 years, so be prepared to explain the concept of death to your kid if they get too attached to the little creature. Also, they are nocturnal so they will not be awake for most of the day.
A rat may not be what you were thinking of when your kid asked for a pet, but they are extremely sociable, intelligent and low maintenance. They are also very playful animals and like to engage themselves with toys, or stuff like paper towel rolls and ropes. They can be handled a lot, are very calm and cute as well.
Rats are the ideal small pets if you want your child to develop a strong bond with his/her first pet, as rats are extremely sociable and intelligent. They have a great memory for a creature which is so small, and will survive on food pellets that you can find at the pet store. However, they too have a short lifespan ranging from two to three years.
Gerbils are group animals and are generally kept in groups of two to four. They are quite inexpensive, and a ten gallon tank should be enough for a couple of these cute little small pets. They can be held and cuddled with but be careful not to harm the little creatures as they are rather delicate.
Gerbils come in many varieties and the best part about them is that they are odorless and remain quite clean. Also, unlike hamsters, gerbils are not nocturnal. They are also quite independent and can keep themselves entertained for long periods. They too, like hamsters happen to have a short lifespan of only 3 to 4 years, so be prepared for that.
Ferrets are extremely active, highly inquisitive and very agile animals. Not to mention that they are super cute and furry as well. They also have a longer lifespan than most small pets, at around 8-10 years. The ferret is an animal which once let out of it’s cage will run around your house to inspect every nook and cranny, so you need to make sure that someone responsible is around when the ferret gets out of its cage.
They definitely require more attention than a rat or hamster as they are not very comfortable with being crammed in a cage all day, whenever you are at home you should let it out and play with it, or let the kids play with it. Ferrets are okay with handling and will not bite unless treated in a rough way or harmed. They will play with you all day and are very cuddly once they get around three years old.
Of all the furry little creatures on this list, Chinchillas are the furriest. They have a deep, velvety coat of hair. In fact their fur coat is so velvety that the best thing about getting your new pet will be holding it. Chinchillas are not very comfortable with being cuddled, so let them run up to you inside. The chinchilla is fairly large at about 12 inches long for an adult, the females are larger than the males. They also have zero body odor and even their droppings do not emit a smell until days.
They have a lifespan of around 10 to 15 years. Chinchillas come in a variety of colors, from serene white to charcoal black. They do not require a lot of attention and can be fed commercial pellets available from the pet store. Chinchilla male are best kept in pairs of two and female can be kept in solitary.
3. Hermit Crab
Hermit crabs are one of those small pets that are not very common, but nevertheless quite well mannered, insanely cheap, and make for great pets. They need an aquarium with a half foot thick layer of sand and some stones on top for them to climb and play with. The hermit crab can be handled by older kids, but it is best to let the crab do its own thing. It is more of a calm, peaceful animal and is not exactly the kind of creature you can cuddle with or pet.
You will be looking at it from a distance as it slowly moves around in the cage, burrowing into the sand to hide its tiny face. These tiny creatures are quite social and come of out of hiding during the evenings. Occasionally you might even hear a chirping sound from your hermit crab.
They can live for up to 30 years and don’t require a lot of exercising or attention. Crabs don’t like to smell the same food twice in a row and you must serve them something different every time, like fish now and maybe some fruits next time. Also, you do need serve some de-chlorinated fresh water and salt water, each in separate bowls. Being shelled creatures they need calcium, so some cuttlebones need to be dropped into their aquarium every once in a while.
Hermit crabs are omnivorous scavengers and you will need to serve them some fruit or vegetable bits alongside their daily food, but make sure you wash those fruits and vegetables with de-chlorinated water before serving them to the crab. These creatures require careful maintenance but it should not take much of your time. They are social animals and can be kept in couples or groups of 3 to 4.
Parrots are the most popular domestic bird and for good reason. They are playful and interactive by nature, not o mention the fact that are very beautiful to look at. They come in a range of sizes and colors from plain green to species that look like a modern art painting. The parrot lives for very long periods, some species may live as long as 80 years or more. They are very sociable and have a tendency to mimic the sounds they hear, so you might be careful with those slang words around your parrot, don’t want the kids to learn those, eh?
The parrot requires a large bird cage to fully spread its wings and fly from one side to another. They like food such as nuts and salty crackers. Their cage needs regular cleaning and they need regular socializing otherwise they will bite your fingers off, as they don’t like being handled by strangers. Parrots are also extremely active during the day and can be quite loud, they might go on screaming for several minutes until they get attention. Purchase this pet, but be ready for a life long commitment.
Rabbits are extremely cute, cuddly and intelligent small pets with a playful nature. However they are not recommended for small children as the rabbit does not like to be handled roughly and gets startled easily by the quick movements of a little kid. They are great but small pets for older kids though as the rabbit is a rather peaceful and calm animal with a very soft coat of fur. It is adorable and can be trained to use litter boxes, you can also teach it to play games like fetch.
Also read: 10 Rabbits that Stay Small Forever.
Rabbits require a lot of daily exercise to stay healthy and their food comprises commercial food pellets and some occasional fruits and vegetables. Rabbits come in a variety of sizes and some species require daily brushing to keep their coats clean. They are probably the most domesticated species of rodent on the planet and can build a very deep bond with their owners, and have a lifespan of 7 to 10 years.
However, you do need to let them out of their cages on a daily basis and play with them, also they have a fairly weak digestive system hence proper supervision is required to ensure they don’t fall sick.
Also read: List of world’s most expensive cat breeds.