If you have children, I am certain that you will have been asked a million times already if they can have a pet. Giving your child a pet, is an engaging experience. They create a magical bond with the animal, and it teaches them valuable life lessons about responsibility, schedules and caring for something.
Even though your child will swear that they will do everything for the animal you chose, it will come as no surprise that this initial enthusiasm will wane somewhat. Ensure before taking on any pet that you will want to help out quite a bit also as it will be unfair on the animal if no-one is looking after it. Also, remember that with a pet there are many associated costs, such as food and vets bills not to mention picking up droppings and many other exciting pet ownership chores.
So now you have thought about the benefits and pitfalls of pet ownership, which pets are the best to get for your child? Your child's personality will give you some clues. Most will probably want the typical, dog, cat or rabbit. But sometimes it might be unfeasible to do so, for example, you may have allergies, or you may rent your home and the landlord may not want particular types of animal in your abode.
Fish ownership can be as hard or as simple as you like. You can have a simple glass tank, which requires no additional technology, other than gravel and a fish. Alternatively you can go all out and choose a breed that requires the water temperature at a certain range, special lighting, pumps and filters. If you want to start off easy go for a simple Goldfish, they are happy in a simple environment and get on well together. Another great fish to start off with is the Betta or Siamese fighting fish. They are by far one of the hardiest fish going and require hardly anything from the owner to survive. The Betta has been known to live in stagnant water, so if the water gets forgotten about changing for a day or two they will survive.
I suspect this is the big one, the one they are really badgering you for. It is easy to see why when you look at adverts on tv, I think it is hard to go through one advertising break without seeing one if not both. Whilst you may think, it would be a great idea to go for a cute kitten or puppy. Put yours and the kids feelings to one side and consider that a new kitten or puppy is going to require a hell of a lot of patience. Not to mention training and clean ups - maybe not the best idea for a first pet. Remember both animals require regular vets trips and maintenance such as flea control and worming. Find out more at resources such as wormers.co.uk. Cats are a lot more independent than dogs and require less attention. Dogs are the more social animal and will follow you around indefinitely.
Birds can be a fantastic idea for the right child. All birds require daily interaction, but this varies between breeds. A Canarie might be a great first-time pet as they do not need as much interaction if you buy two birds as they will keep each other amused to an extent. Cages need to be of a decent size dependant on the breed you choose, allowing them to spread their wings and get some exercise. Toys and mirrors are also a great idea to keep them busy. One word of caution though, small birds are best with older children as they get stressed easily by loud noises and sudden movement. Larger more intelligent birds such as a Cockatoo might be a better idea for a smaller child, providing their is adult supervision. Also, remember that these birds require a lot of interaction and space to keep them happy.
Small animals such as mice, guinea pigs and rats make excellent pets for children. They are fairly inexpensive to keep and home, with minimal maintenance issues. A simple cage, water bottle, bowl and bedding is usually more than sufficient. Hamsters are a great idea too, but it might be worth nothing that they can be a little anti-social. Contrary to popular belief the best rodent on the list for anyone to keep are rats. Rats are fantastic animals, they are clever and love to be around humans. Most people overlook them because of their history and tails. But they are one of the most loveable creatures out there.
If you would like something a little more educational, but still fun for your child, consider an ant-farm. Ant farms were thought up in the fifties and initially they were two panes of plastic sandwiching sand between them. The ants then created little patterns wandering around gathering food. These classic ant farms still remain, but typically you find the sand in them replaced with a nutritious gel substance. At their core, an ant farm provides a very interesting thing to look at and monitor, essentially providing a biology lesson in your home. Maintenance is fairly simple as they just require the removal of refuse and occasional feeding of other bugs. Modern ant farms now come in a variety of shapes and sizes, adding to the enjoyment.
Another educational choice are Triops and Sea Monkeys/Brine Shrimp. They are supplied from a multitude of toy and learning supply stores. Essentially they are in a suspended animation until you add them to the tank, and then they hatch. Triops are little 3 eyed crustaceans, that live between 20 and 90 days, they can get as large as 1-3 inches. They will eat anything that gets in their way including their siblings. Sea monkeys are a similar affair but grow to a maximum of around ¾ inch long and last for around two years if cared for properly. Unlike Triops, Sea monkeys do not try and consume each other.
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