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Best small pet for children

(44 Posts)
susan198130 Sun 13-Jan-19 11:45:53

My children have been going on for a while about getting a hamster.

I'm not sure hamsters will be the right choice for my children. They're 5 and 6, and from what I've read, hamsters are nocturnal and can bite. I know all animals can bite, but I'm thinking a rat or a mouse might be better. Does anyone have any experience of owning a pet like this and what would be best, as they'll want to hold it as well.

We have cats, so we're going to have to keep them away from whatever animal we decide to get, which shouldn't be a problem. I don't want to get a rabbit or a guinea pig as I don't have enough time to give it the attention it will need (should the kids end up getting bored with it). Plus, I don't want an animal that needs to go in the garden as we have too many foxes here. So it has to be something small that can live inside.

Confusedbeetle Sun 13-Jan-19 11:55:10

I dont think any small pet for children this age is a good idea, they have no idea and just want to hug an play with them like toys, Rodents do not deserve this treatment and you do not want to do all the care, which you would have to, The cat is the best bet, they can get away and lead their own life. A child cannot understand an animals needs of care for them until they are about 12

KaliforniaDreamz Sun 13-Jan-19 11:56:45

None, you will end up doing all the drudge and they will lose interest after 3 days.


CookieSwirlC Sun 13-Jan-19 11:58:39

Fish. But in a big enough tank with a filter. Small animals are not for small children imo.

TheFairyCaravan Sun 13-Jan-19 12:01:29

Hamsters make great pets. We mustn't have had a dozen but are yet to get a bitey one. We have never bought one from Pets at Home, we've always gone for an independent pet shop where they've known the breeder and handled them before they've been sold.

We've got a pedigree hamster atm from a local hamstery who we found through the National Hamster Council. When I started to look into this I was surprised as to how serious hamster breeding and showing is. Anyhow, we had to wait 6 months for one become available and when he did come to us he'd already been being handled since he was 2 weeks old so is incredibly placid and likes nothing more than sleeping on me for hours.

You will need a far bigger cage than you'd imagine. A Syrian Hamster needs to be in something like the Alaska or Barney from Zooplus. You'll also need a bigger wheel because the ones sold with cges are too small and bad for their backs.

susan198130 Sun 13-Jan-19 12:04:15

We've already had fish, and not doing again. I don't think they're as straightforward as getting a tank and putting them in water and cleaning out regularly. They always ended up dying within less than a year.

That's not true about not looking after and caring for a pet until you're about 12. I had two rabbits and a guinea pig when I was about 7. Every morning, I would get up, put them out into their play pen, give them some food, attach the water bottle to their cage, bring them inside to play. So kids are definitely capable of caring for small pets before 12.

KaliforniaDreamz Sun 13-Jan-19 12:11:09

But they are not capable of cleaning out the cage properly.

A hamster is best tho, as their cages are smaller than say a guinea pigs of which i have 2 and the cage is huge and takes about a million hours to clean out properly...

fish are pointless imo

explodingkitten Sun 13-Jan-19 12:16:13

If you find having fish a lot of work then I don't think that you are pet people tbh.

susan198130 Sun 13-Jan-19 16:00:17

I didn't say fish were a lot of work. They're just not for us. I don't know anything about water PH levels, etc. Plus we have 3 cats, 2 of which are 13. So can't be too bad...

FamilyOfAliens Sun 13-Jan-19 16:07:10

Just because they’re going in at you to have a pet doesn’t mean you should get one. You’re the adult.

If you go for dwarf hamsters, they are very quick and squirmy unless you get them from babies and handle them regularly. They can die if you drop them and a 5 year old could easily do that if they move suddenly in their hands.

Syrians are bigger and easier to handle but they should always live alone, which could be tricky if you want them to have one each and take responsibility for it. They need a big cage though. Mine has a cage 80 x 50 x 40cm. When we rescued it, it was living in a cage half that size sad

binkybea Sun 13-Jan-19 16:11:25

Guinea pigs are great pets for children but I think that children aged 8 and upwards would be best suited and with supervision.

Many younger children have pets but I fear most pets are not really cared for well & parents tend to have to do the majority of the care sad

Soubriquet Sun 13-Jan-19 16:13:43


Hamsters are ok but they are nocturnal like you said so a bit boring for kids

As long as you take full responsibility, get a nice large cage, plenty of research and at least a pair of rats, they will be fantastic pets.

Soubriquet Sun 13-Jan-19 16:15:02

. They always ended up dying within less than a year.

You must be doing something wrong with fish though. I’ve never had a fish last less than a year

coffeekittens Sun 13-Jan-19 16:17:28

I’d say rats, they’re very intelligent and clean. However you’ve said yourself that you can’t commit to the care of a guinea pig if the children were to get bored of it/them, the same applies to any caged pet, they need handling daily, a stimulating environment and cleaning out twice a week alongside topping up food/water.

Teaandtoastie Sun 13-Jan-19 16:21:54

I think gerbils are great. I had them as pets when I was young and my DDs has a pair until recently. They are sociable so you can buy them in pairs (just make sure they are the same sex!) . They are not nocturnal, they are most awake in the late afternoon which is perfect for kids. And if you handle them often they become very tame. When I was young we had ours in a massive tank filled with sand and we could see the tunnels they dug, which was pretty cool.

susan198130 Sun 13-Jan-19 16:46:32

Thanks for the responses (well, some of them anyway!). I don't mind looking after an animal, but the problem with having a guinea pig or rabbit (which I'd love) is that they generally live outdoors. I had a rabbit about 10 years ago, and whenever we brought him inside, he just used to poo everywhere. Then a fox managed to get him out of his cage, so I ended up finding random parts of his body turning up in my garden for days after, which was really awful.

We've also had chickens before, which the kids loved, but again, they just attract foxes and we lost 2 that way, and I just don't want to go through anything like that again. So we are very capable of looking after pets (except fish clearly!).

I know I don't have to get them a pet just because they ask for one, but as I said, I don't mind them having one. I just want something small that doesn't need to have a run round in the garden. I work from home most of the time, so don't have the time to keep an eye on them while they're out there.

I really like the idea of a rat as everything I've read says they're really sociable, but they need a big cage. So that's another thing. Then we thought of a mouse, but apparently they smell. So then we thought maybe a gerbil.

We're just going to hold off for a while, because as someone said, they most likely will get bored with it and then it'll be down to me and my husband to look after. Plus they might just get over this idea.

Soubriquet Sun 13-Jan-19 16:51:21

I’ve had mice

They don’t actually smell that bad if you get females. It’s the males that smell

However they are quite delicate which was why I suggest rats over mice

Chocolate50 Sun 13-Jan-19 17:01:46

Rats are lovely pets.

supergrains Sun 13-Jan-19 17:15:00

You've got 3 cats and some fish, and young children, you don't need more pets unless you personally want them for yourself?
I knew a woman who couldn't have a 3--rd child --and started animal hoarding instead, said it was for the kids but they couldn't give a stuff after 10 mins or tortured the poor animals, she did get dogs/cats/hamsters/fish. The hamsters were the least successful as they were injured (and one of them died resulting in another hamster being bought) but the children were too rough with them - the children aren't particular rough, the hamsters were just too delicate for children to handle them.
I would wait until the children are older if the pet really is for them.

NoIAmSpartacus Sun 13-Jan-19 17:28:55

You don't want/can't have hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, animals that have to go outside or fish and you already have 3 cats...

I'm not sure what there is left to suggest other than don't get another pet, you've got 3 cats, why do they need their own pet at 5 and 6 years old? Pets are a big commitment, at that age they are likely to get bored easily.

I don't mind looking after an animal and I know I don't have to get them a pet just because they ask for one, but as I said, I don't mind them having on**e. You don't sound that enthusiastic, do you actually want another one? They're 5 and 6, just say no. hmm

susan198130 Sun 13-Jan-19 18:16:03

We don't have fish, they all died. Just cats, one of which we inherited so I can confirm that I'm not (nor planning on) hoarding animals.

And as I said, I don't want a pet that needs to be outdoors with supervision, because I don't have time to be sitting in the garden making sure they don't become our local fox's dinner.

The kids want a small little pet. Me and my husband are happy with that. Kids often have small pets. Don't really see the problem. It wouldn't be neglected.

I also don't know where I asked for people's opinions on whether I should get a pet. I was just asking what people's experiences were and what might be the best, i.e. mouse, rat, gerbil, hamster. Maybe we'll just get another cat for my collection...

FamilyOfAliens Sun 13-Jan-19 18:19:52

Maybe we'll just get another cat for my collection...

But you said your 5 and 6 year old DC want a hamster confused

How will getting a fourth cat help?

susan198130 Sun 13-Jan-19 18:32:43

Erm... it was a joke

binkybea Sun 13-Jan-19 18:54:04

We have three guinea pigs (brothers) in a huge cage we bought from pets at home.

In the Summer we put them out if weather is good & in the Winter they are kept indoors.

greathat Sun 13-Jan-19 19:32:32

Wait 4 years, get guinea pigs, keep em inside

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