Pets for children below age 10 – Part 1

Getting a pet for any age group is a decision that should be made after carefully weighing the consideration for responsibility and commitment the recipient would have for the animal. Doing a thorough assessment for time involved and economic factors as well as the home environment are other factors to carefully consider. Will the pet do well in its new home, is it too large or are there dangers – like other pets – that may cause it harm? One must carefully run through the list before making a selection especially that the choice and responsibility match the maturity level of the person receiving the pet, especially when considering children.

While a child under the age of ten may be mature enough to care for a dog or a cat, it is better to avoid the larger animals in favor of the small, especially if it’s the first pet in their lives or their parents are willing to provide most of the care. A better choice would be something small enough to care for but wouldn’t be in jeopardy easily by an accidental miscalculation of love or neglect. Then there’s the separation of cute and easy. A fish in an aquarium is simple to care for but only teaches the basics of feeding and cleanliness (less if the aquarium has other creatures that clean for you), which is ideal for really young children. Something a little more complex but still easy would be a rodent of one kind or another. Lizards and reptiles can carry a lot of bacteria that could be harmful, so they are best avoided.

As a child happening across their first fish can be as easy as a goldfish game at a carnival, it is good to prepare for that when it happens. The child would be more likely to care if it is a pet they have “rescued” from the game and it will instill the first motivational drive for responsibility. Otherwise, getting a fish on a random notion might be a wasted effort, but going to get companions for one’s new friend is much more valuable.

If the child is above six they probably have the necessary ability to care for a slightly larger animal, like a gerbil, hamster, or guinea pig. While mice, rats, and rabbits are also rodents they are a bit more active and less hand-friendly. Although hamsters also have a tendency to bite, it is usually a social issue and not a personal grudge. Hamsters and gerbils in conjunction with their equipment in their cages can provide hours of entertainment.

The top choice may lie with the guinea pig. Best to get at a young age, guinea pigs that are laid back are great entertainment and wonderful companions. As setting up their pens are as easy as laying newspaper in a laundry basket, providing a water bottle, and piling different foods in the corners, guinea pigs are the way to go. Unlike the other rodent possibilities guinea pigs are very vocal animals and will often make little grunting noises when agitated, upset, or needing attention, and will purr when content. Sometimes there is nothing more rewarding than petting a comfortable guinea pig while watching television or reading a book and having it purr contently in your lap. It is definitely a very personal animal.

So whatever the choice pet for a child under ten it should be a very valuable and rewarding life lesson on care and compassion. That and nothing brings happiness better than a pet that can bring a smile.

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