23 answers

Great Pet for Small Kids?

My kids are 5 and 3, and we're itching to add a pet to our family. We have a small townhouse with hardwood floors, and our kids share a room. Our landlord won't allow us to get a cat or a dog, and I'm not interested in getting fish. We were looking at hamsters, mice, rats, and guinea pigs at the pet store this weekend, and I'm hoping for some experienced wisdom from other moms with small kids. Personally, I had hamsters and gerbils when I was a kid, and I loved them. But my kids seem really interested in the guinea pig, which to be honest, freaks me out a little, though I don't know why. In your experience, is one friendlier than the other? Bite less? Easier to care for? Smell? Did you find that kids this young aren't "ready" for a pet? I'd love to hear stories! Thanks in advance, ladies!

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What you really should be asking/thinking is "what pet am I o.k taking care of when the kids lose interest in it" which they will.....
I'm not being ugly, you just need to consider this because you will walk by the food dish a MILLION times and it will be empty and YOU will fill it up :)

4 moms found this helpful

Guinea pigs make great pets usually. They are mellow and like to be petted. Rats are nice too but they are SO smart and really need companion rats as well as a large stimulating cage and they need to get out to play every day. Hamsters and gerbils tend to bite and can easily run away/escape.Guinea pigs are more mellow. We have 2 hamsters and my son loves them, but he is almost 8 and cares for them himself. All these pets require weekly cage cleanings which honestly gets to be a big pain in the butt!

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

What you really should be asking/thinking is "what pet am I o.k taking care of when the kids lose interest in it" which they will.....
I'm not being ugly, you just need to consider this because you will walk by the food dish a MILLION times and it will be empty and YOU will fill it up :)

4 moms found this helpful

We were just in the same spot and decided to go with mice. They are not as cuddly and easy to handle by a small child as a bunny, guinea pig or even rats, but they are really easy to keep and take care of, which was important for me because I knew that that would be my job. They also don't require daily handling - which is great because often kids aren't really interested in daily play with their pets after the initial excitement wears off. If you keep females in a small group they don't smell bad (cleaning the cage weekly), entertain themselves and are cute to look at. I like to refer to them as our furry fish.
Bunnies or guinea pigs are sweet, I had them as a kid. You can even train them to use a litter box and you can play with them, but they do require daily social time, especially if you keep them alone. They also live longer so it's a bit more of a commitment.

2 moms found this helpful

Guinea pigs make great pets usually. They are mellow and like to be petted. Rats are nice too but they are SO smart and really need companion rats as well as a large stimulating cage and they need to get out to play every day. Hamsters and gerbils tend to bite and can easily run away/escape.Guinea pigs are more mellow. We have 2 hamsters and my son loves them, but he is almost 8 and cares for them himself. All these pets require weekly cage cleanings which honestly gets to be a big pain in the butt!

2 moms found this helpful

Go with the pig! They live longer than gerbils or hamsters and are generally more tolerant of handling than other rodents. But they are social so getting only one is unkind. Like any other caged beast...they will get stinky if their environment isn't cleaned. Guinea pigs are not nocturnal which is a plus in my book.

1 mom found this helpful

When I was a kid, I had hamsters and quickly found they had to be kept far away from people at night- boy, are they loud!

1 mom found this helpful

Honestly, I'd start them out with a goldfish. They can get in the habit of remembering to feed it, and helping you clean the tank. I think it'd be a good warm up for a higher maintenance pet, like a mammal.

1 mom found this helpful

I'd re-think a goldfish or a few guppies.

Hermit crabs?

1 mom found this helpful

At this age, if you're looking at getting a smaller pet and you're thinking of letting your 3 and 5 year old hold/pet it then be prepared for it getting lost!!! I don't have any experience with guinea pigs, but might lean more towards those just because the size and being easier to handle for a young child. But bigger size means bigger stink. They all will stink and you will have to clean out the cage at least once per week. Rats are smart and can often figure out how to get out of cages - well, so can hamsters and gerbils. It doesn't matter if the kids are "ready", it matters if you are ready for the new responsibility. :)

1 mom found this helpful

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