The benefits of having a pet are many, and provide an excellent opportunity for kids to learn how to take care of others. Here are some of the top pets to consider, including a few unusual creatures you’d least expect to find in your household.
It is well documented that children who have been raised with pets can often avoid issues with allergies and asthma later in life. Caring for a pet can also nurture qualities in children that help them become better people, including compassion, empathy, love, trust, and responsibility. Children can do simple chores like changing a litter box and providing playtime and exercise for the pet. Kids can also be involved with the training process, which can be fun and rewarding.
Bonding with an animal can be a rich, valuable, and meaningful experience for everyone in the household. An animal is good company, doesn’t laugh when you’re having a bad hair day and doesn’t judge you when you’re wearing mismatched clothes. Studies have shown that caring for a pet can also help decrease depression when a simple tail wag, lick on the hand, or nudge asking to be petted can help lift spirits.
Just as with people, a positive, healthy relationship has to be the right fit for both parties. Don’t just go out and buy or adopt a pet willy-nilly. Do your research first, check out what’s available and interact with the animal first before you make a decision.
As with everything, maintenance is required. Your animal will need to be fed, and some pets will need their cages or aquariums cleaned regularly. Make sure you have sufficient financial wherewithal to pay for vet visits. Dogs and cats need to be up-to-date on all of their shots. Do you have a crate for your canine companion or feline friend to sleep in or stay in when you need time apart? Do you have a collar and leash for your dog?
You may have requirements that your pet has to meet, but think of the matter the other way around. Your pet has requirements for you, too. You need to have the right personality and resources to take care of your animal. You have to be able to provide a good, safe, and loving home, or you shouldn’t consider owning a pet.
Think hard about what kind of pet would be the best possible fit for you and your family before you rush out and get one. If not a dog or a cat—and you still want a fur baby—what about a smaller caged animal like a rabbit, ferret, Guinea pig, gerbil, hamster, mouse, rat, hedgehog or chinchilla?
More of a bird person? Try parakeets, cockatiels, lovebirds, parrots, macaws, canaries, or finches.
Feathers not your type? Rather have scales or shells? For reptile lovers, there are also lots of options, including frogs, turtles, lizards, anoles, bearded dragons, geckos, and chameleons. Or how about snakes?
More into the aquatic types? Fish may be your forever friends. Setting up an aquarium may be just your ticket. Some of the best fish for newbies include rasboras, goldfish, tetras, and betta fish (which must be kept solitary).
Don’t have arachnophobia? Love little 8-legged, hairy critters that crawl? Tarantulas may be the ideal pet for you. Here are some good ones to choose from: Mexican red-knees, Chilean roses, Costa Rican zebras, Mexican redlegs, Honduran curly hairs, Brazilian blacks, Mexican red rumps or desert blondes.
Potbelly pigs, chickens, lambs, goats, cows, alpaca, or horses are good options for those living in a rural setting. They each need a specialized environment, feed, and care.
Having a pet requires patience and practice. It’s a lot of hard work, but it is well worth the effort and energy. Whichever pet(s) you decide to bring home, make sure to learn all about them, how to care for them, and get as prepared as possible with the food and supplies you might need. Oh, and don’t forget to snap a pic or a few dozen to post on social media. Your friends will love to see the newest members of your family!