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Are you looking for a family pet that's easier to care for than a cat or a dog? Hoping for something that feels comfortable in a small space, like an apartment, a bedroom, or an RV? Then welcome to the world of small animals. These creatures may be small in size, but they're big on personality and fun.
How do you know what small animal is best for your child? Read on and you just might find the answer!
Rodents are perennial favorites because of their small size, high activity, and adorable furry faces. Many rodents can be handled by gentle children, and they respond well to toys like racing wheels, tubes, and tunnels. Classic rodent pets include gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, and guinea pigs. All rodents need fresh food and water daily, a clean cage, and clean hands on the part of the person who is handling them.
These cute animals are easy to handle and generally friendly. They aren't known to bite if they're handled gently. Guinea pigs tend to adopt their owner's daily schedule, which is great for kids since it means they're likely to be awake when the child is ready to interact. Guinea pigs should be kept in pairs.
Playful and active, gerbils are popular pets in the child world. Gerbils are social and should be kept in pairs or groups. They're fun to watch, and kids can enjoy building habitats for them using clear plastic tunnel pieces, allowing them to watch their gerbils run around and explore. Gerbils are fairly friendly and tame, but they do tend to be nocturnal.
Your local library will have books on raising animals of all different types, and they'll even explain what kind of food and housing you'll need to provide. Assuming you've already built the pen, coop, or small stable and decided where you'll buy hay, grain, or chicken feed, you're ready to start. If you know what kind of animal you want but aren't sure what exact variety to get, you might take a trip to your county fair. There you can interview farmers and 4-H kids who have first-hand experience at raising goats, chickens, or ducks. They can tell you the differences between the breeds and whether they get along with each other.
Rats are smart, social, and surprisingly fun. They're easy to handle (gently) and they tend to adapt to their owner's schedule. Rats aren't likely to bite. They need a large cage and should be kept in pairs.
You won't need to worry about a population boom if you have a group of female-only mice. These adorable creatures are easy to raise and care for. They're active, cute, and fun to watch. However, they're also quick and skittish, which makes handling dangerous. It's easy for a mouse to wriggle out of a child's grasp and get lost in the house. If you get mice, it's better to watch them than to hold them.
You'll only need one hamster. These animals are cute and fairly tame, and they don't need much space. They are nocturnal, which can be challenging for kids who want to interact during the day.
Other Small Pets
These curious, playful animals are a ton of fun, but they can also be a handful. If you're thinking about getting a ferret, make sure it's something the whole family is excited about. Odds are that the ferret's quirks will affect everybody, so the whole clan should be ready to love and enjoy the new pet. These animals love to run and play, and they will also hoard treasures in their nest or secret hiding place. If you find that your sponges and car keys keep disappearing, that's why! Ferrets also like to wriggle into tiny places, so be sure to ferret-proof your house thoroughly before introducing one of these charming, mischievous creatures.
Lizards and Turtles
Quiet, gentle, and easy to care for, lizards and turtles make very interesting pets. Geckos are a good choice among lizards, since they're docile and can be handled (gently). They don't need a special light, but their tank does require a good deal of set-up. Turtles will need an aquarium with rocks, water, and a heated element.
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