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What Is a Good Pet for 4 Year Old?

Ok mom's my 4 year old would like a pet, a dog or cat is out of the question what I would like to know is are gerbils, hamsters or guina pigs good pet for a 4 yr old and what kind of up keep do they require? Any ideas on these or any other pets would be great! Thanks

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No matter what you get, 4 year old children are not responsible enough to handle everything themselves. The animal will die if you expect the 4 year old to care for them.

My kids and I have had most of the small critters people keep. But I always knew that I had to be the one to care for them. Kids get very tired of the pet after just a short time. Even if you get lucky enough to have a very responsible child, it's never as simple as just cleaning their cage and cleaning up after them. Each species has their own illnesses to look for and special ways to treat them if they do get sick. Most any animal can and or will bite if they are not handled right. Kids don't mean to be rough. They are usually too loud and too quick in their movements for most animals, so the animal avoids the child. That doesn't help the child to be eager to take care of them.

I think the best animal for any child is one that you personally will love enough to care for.

S.

1 mom found this helpful

I teach preschool and have good luck with guinea pigs. They are larger and can take a little rougher handling. My classroom guinea pigs loves to sit in the children's laps while they color.
Guinea pigs also live 3-6 years. This allows for a good time for a few years. Good luck.

we had hamsters once and I just couldn't take the smell and the upkeep of cleaning the cages once a week. I would recommend a fishtank.

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No matter what you get, 4 year old children are not responsible enough to handle everything themselves. The animal will die if you expect the 4 year old to care for them.

My kids and I have had most of the small critters people keep. But I always knew that I had to be the one to care for them. Kids get very tired of the pet after just a short time. Even if you get lucky enough to have a very responsible child, it's never as simple as just cleaning their cage and cleaning up after them. Each species has their own illnesses to look for and special ways to treat them if they do get sick. Most any animal can and or will bite if they are not handled right. Kids don't mean to be rough. They are usually too loud and too quick in their movements for most animals, so the animal avoids the child. That doesn't help the child to be eager to take care of them.

I think the best animal for any child is one that you personally will love enough to care for.

S.

1 mom found this helpful

so i kind of do agree that a 4 year old might be too young for a small animal like you're talking about. but it would depend on the child. for us, a fish has been great. although my son is 2 1/2 not 4, he does great with the "low maintenance" of the fish, although he does help feed him and turn the light on in the mornings. our biggest challenge was keeping him from pounding on the glass, putting his fingers all over the glass, even licking the glass...but we've conquered that little issue finally lol. good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

we had hamsters once and I just couldn't take the smell and the upkeep of cleaning the cages once a week. I would recommend a fishtank.

You might not like my answer, but i was presented with this same question by my 6 and 4 year old kids last week. I looked at the kids with a straight face and said a pet rock would be perfect. My hubby laughed.

It's not that I don't like animals. Love em. Used to dogsit for a consultant but I had these thoughts go through my head - No cleaning cages, no walking the pet, no feeding the pet, we can go on vacation and not worry about who can watch the rock.

since gerbils, hamsters, etc.....all have a tendency to bite/nibble....I would lean toward either fish or a parakeet (or other small bird).

We've done both. The daily cleaning of the bird cage is a real pain....but the fish are boring! So it was a trade-off.

Good MOrning, I can tell you from first hand experience that Guina pigs are rather gross and dirty little guys! My husbands step mom had some of those and so did a friend. They smell rather yucky very fast. Something easy like a fish would be good right now. I know it's not overly exciting right now, but it will help teach them how to take care of their animal without killing it. (I know that sounds bad) but take it from me, I would collect anything my parents would let me bring home when I was little!! LOL!! Good luck with your search, that's just my opinion. Have fun with what ever you pick!!

My kids have turtles and love them(they have personalities, believe it or not). You just have to make sure they wash their hands but you only have to clean the tank occassionally. The inital set up is a little costly, about $100 and then the turtles. But turtles seem to live forever so you don't have to worry about dealing with death of a pet no time soon.

Good luck,
D.

I'll give a shout out for the guinea pigs. We had three adults and some babies when I was a child. They are a little larger than gerbils and hamsters and therefore SLIGHTLY less fragile. They can be trained to be held, love to be petted, etc. I would suggest a short haired one so that there isn't any real grooming needed. The long haired ones need to be brushed regularly. They are usually really sweet and have more personality than the smaller rodents. They will "talk" to you...squealing when they are hungry, and their purring giggles are just adorable!

I have four kids, oldest being 27 and youngest being 3. We have tried many pets over the years. My daughter's class once sent gerbils home with her over the summer, and she had this same problem with hamsters. They had babies and started chewing at each other. She'd get up and have one of them's legs chewed off, tails chewed off. She got disgusted after a while and threw them outside actually. She thought they were so cute and sweet in the beginning. They reproduced a couple times over the summer. She got so tired of them, fast. Guinea pigs have the greatest personality of all those listed. They talk to you when you enter the room looking for treats. We'd have their regular food and give them extra treats, veggies. My kid even fed it a piece of pancake once. Loved the guinea pig. But, like the other said, you will be the one doing the care. You have to keep up with the cage cleaning and it gets tiring after a while. We kept it for quite some time, but when I got tired of cleaning its cage (because the kids quit), I gave it away. I did REALLY enjoy the guinea pig for quite some time though.

Guinea pigs you have to clean the cages once or twice a week to keep the smell down. 8 years and up are recommended ages for all of these animals. Of course I say depends on the child. I had a child around 4 that was rough with the animal. You will have to watch them carefully and see how your child handles the animal. Guinea pigs are tamer and live longer, but require a bigger cage and more cleanup. Depending on the child and how much are you willing to clean. Hope this helps.

I agree completely with your first response from Jennifer. Gerbils are pretty easy. I don't really have any experience with guinea pigs but I know hamsters bite. Parakeets can be very temperamental too. If you go that route, don't buy at a pet store. Get a hand fed baby from a breeder and make sure to handle it daily. Fish are pretty easy, esp a beta but if you did a whole tank, depending on the size, cleaning can get to be a hassle. Careful with turtles. They get big! Especially the aquatic kinds. A box turtle would be a much better option that a water turtle that will get as big as a dinner plate and require a HUGE tank. Good luck with whatever you decide!

We had 3 guinea pigs for a while. The are great because they are large Yet lap size for a 4 year old, but there cage must be cleaned at least 2 times a week ( the cage must be large for them to run around). We ended up buying a 2nd pig b/c our 1st got lonley & would not be sociable or eat. They also need vitamin C daily, b/c they are the only pet that I know of that doesn't make it's own vitamin C.
A good friend of mine has rats. They are very smart, trainable & fun. I never thought I would let a rat climb on me, but I really like them. She says that you just dump out the cage, refill it & that's it.
Make sure you find a good breeder for what ever animal you get.
Being that I am a cat person, I would still suggest a cat. Most anything you get (except fish) will bite or scratch at one time or another (even on accident) in it's life & you will still be the one responsible for the cage (or box) cleaning & making sure that it does get fed.

God bless!

I would not recomend a gerbil or hamster. We got our first hamsters last summer. One lasted about 4 days and my just turned 5 (they were birthday presents) loved one to death. We still have the other one, but he would really rather be left alone. He dosen't mind being petted, some. But my daughter has be bit several times. Never really hard, but like a good paper cut. Cheese Nip does not like her messing with him. And he's gotten out of the the cage 2 times. Once he was out for almost 2 days (we thought the dog ate him). I had a gerbil when I was little and it was the same thing. But he bit really hard. But hamsters and gerbils are not social critters (I learned that from this site - after we bought them). Good luck!

Fish in a small tank is perfect to start with. then gradually work up to a hampster. Be careful some are agressive and can bite.

Hamsters, Gerbils, Guinea Pigs are not a good choice for anyone who wants a lovable little creature. I had them when I was a teen and every single one bit me at one point or another. I am going to suggest a GREAT small lovable pet that I have had time and time again since I was 17 (40 this year) Fancy Rats. I have NEVER been bit, peed on, pooped on or scared of any of my pet rats. They are intelligent, clean, trainable and very sociable. My girls have loved every one of them that we have had (my girls are now 14 and 19) It may sound odd to you, if you have questions though, ask a reputable pet store or rat breeders, there are quite a few good ones on the web, look under rattery if you are interested.

I would say that as far as sturdiness and temperment that guinea pigs are the most suited for kiddos. They are a bit larger and can take a little bit of squishing from the kiddos. They also very rarely get aggravated and bite. I worked as a registered veterinary technician for 12 years and that was always my experience. :)

Hamsters and gerbils tend to be quicker to bite. Guinea pigs bite very rarely. Downfalls would be the cage will need a lot of attention, cleaned frequently or you will have an ammonia smell from the urine. Also Guinea pigs honestly do best in pairs, they have company that way. They can be kept alone, but they aren't as happy. There is nothing cuter than hearing the pigs talk to each other either!

Hope this helps!

My daughter will be four in May and we just her a pet fish. She loves it and it is easy to care for with no teeth, claws, mobility, etc. Best Wishes.

A gerbil is a perfect pet for a four year old. They are more friendly and social than hamsters. They are much less likely to bite than hamsters. I have heard that guina pigs are much more high maintance. I know that their cage needs cleaned more often. I would do two things--keep your gerbils in groups of two or more and give your four year old proper handling lessons. I also teach preschool, in a class os students 3--turning 4 and we have gerbils as our classroom pets. Let me know if I can answer more questions for you.

I would go with fish or a small bird. Something that he can watch but not play with. Something that will teach him responsibilities without being a hassle for you to take care of.

Good Morning J., Depending on how much interaction your daughter wants with her pets, the small rodent type are not good for interaction. 3 of our gr kids mom had gerbils, they rarely leave their cage, if they do they are in a plastic roll ball. She fills their cage with shredded paper, their food and water dispensers are attached on the side, then she puts the tubes from paper towel or bath tissue in for them to chew on. They also have a dog, 2 cats, 4 fish, 3 turtles in an aquarium and a rabbit. A real zoo....lol

The other two gr kids family has fish in a 55 gal tank that they name and help feed, turn on the light etc daily. All other care is up to dad.

You know your child and how much help you want her to have in the care of any type of pet. So think carfully how much YOU actually want to do with a pet at this age.

God Bless
K. Nana of 5
PS I have One little dog who will be 1 tomorrow. That's enough for me. LOL

I teach preschool and have good luck with guinea pigs. They are larger and can take a little rougher handling. My classroom guinea pigs loves to sit in the children's laps while they color.
Guinea pigs also live 3-6 years. This allows for a good time for a few years. Good luck.

I have had guinea pigs for years and absolutely love them. They generally live longer than gerbils or hamsters (which also usually means they are more expensive.) They make all sorts of different cute noises that indicate what kind of mood they are in, and once they get used to you, they generally like sitting on someone's lap and being pet. They also don't tend to bite, unless they mistake your finger for food...which has not happened very often with any guinea pigs I've owned, and only happens when you stick your finger out right by their mouth. Guinea pigs are very clean animals (who clean themselves like cats do) and don't smell at all, unless you don't keep their cage clean.

As far as upkeep, they don't require a ton. You will need to change the bedding in their cage once a week, and it's also a good idea to at least take the worst of the bedding out every 2-3 days so it doesn't get too bad. Other than that, you will need to provide them with food (pellets), fresh water, hay, and other treats from time to time. Guinea pigs are supposed to have hay, water, and their pellet food each day, and then they can also have other treats, such as carrots, lettuce (any kind except iceberg), spinach, apples, oranges, etc. Also, you will occassionally need to clip their nails, or take them to the vet to get this done if you're not comfortable with it. It can be hard to do, but is easier if you have 2 people, one to hold the guinea pig and one to clip.

Guinea pigs are very skittery when you first get them--they are scared of you. If you want them to become more tame and not get frightened when you reach your hand in the cage to pet them, you need to get them out a lot when they are young and pet them on your lap. (I'd suggest putting them on a towel, so if they pee, it doesn't get on you. Although once they get older, I've found they often realize they're not supposed to pee on you and will hold it if they at all possibly can.) It may take a little while, but they will learn to be less scared.

If you do decide to get a guinea pig, here's some general advice I have from having had guinea pigs for years: (1) Get them a cage that has good air flow--a wire cage, not a glass aquarium/cage--but make sure the wire cage is only wire on the sides and top--they cannot have wire on the bottom of their cage--it must be a smooth surface for them to walk on; (2) Do not get them cedar shavings--they can cause respiratory problems, and I've found this out the hard way. Many people use cedar shavings or recommend them for guinea pigs, but if you read up on guinea pigs, they are not really recommended. We sometimes use aspen shavings and sometimes use other bedding that they sell in the stores.

Here are the things you will need to buy if you get a guinea pig:
(1) Cage
(2) Water bottle
(3) Food bowl
(4) Hay
(5) Guinea pig food
(6) Their teeth never stop growing, so they need something hard to chew on to wear down their teeth so they don't get overgrown--they sell wooden chews in the pet store, or you can find other things
(7) A place for them to hide in their cage would be a good idea (they will feel more secure this way)--we have a little wooden house for them that they like to go inside, and they can also use it to wear down their teeth.

Good luck making a decision! Guinea pigs are definitely wonderful pets--they probably require a little bit more upkeep tham hamsters or gerbils, but I think it's worth it because I think they have more personality/are more intelligent/etc.

Not very cuddly but fish are easy to take care of. We had a beta that was pretty low maintenance and my girls loved feeding him and watching Dad change the water once a week.

For us, the entertainment value of hamsters (and I'm sure gerbils too) wasn't as great as the hassle of keeping their cage clean! Our kids (6,4,& 2) have enjoyed their hermit crabs. Ours are pretty friendly and have never pinched. They're good climbers and crawl faster than you would suspect. Best of all, they (and their food) are inexpensive, their cages rarely have to be cleaned, and there is no odor. Good luck!

I have had hamsters and a guinea pig when I was younger. They are both fairly easy to take care of, but my guinea pig was probably a bit easier to take care of. I had 2 hamsters at first. I came home one day and found one of the hamsters had passed away because it had gotten stuck under the wheel in the cage and the other one aparently had run on it while it was stuck. I decided to just keep it to the one hamster, and then it started figuring out how to lock the wheel, climb on top of it and sneak out the top of the cage. So, I took the wheel out, the next thing I knew, the little booger had chewed a hole in the cage on the side where the food bowel sat and it got out that way. So, I figured that maybe it was lonely and if I got another one it would stop getting out. So, I got another one and they both would escape the cage so I had 2 running lose, and I forgot to mention that I had 2 cats at the time. Well, I don't really need to explain what happened to the 2 hamsters on one escape mission. The guinea pig, he was great, and not that messy. The only problem that I had with him was that I got him from someone who had him for a while and decided that they didn't want him anymore. Well, he was already used to a routine of being left alone and only being bothered when the cage was cleaned out. He never tried to bite me or anything, he was just so scared and skiddish that he would mess himself if I tried to touch him and he would shake for the first couple of minutes of being handled. Unfortunately, he was an older guinea pig and didn't live to outgrow the fear. They are fairly inexpensive as well.

We had fish when my first two boys were 4 and 5 years old. They were bored but I was totally facinated when they gave birth, and totally upset then the male ate the babies. Not good. We've had gerbils, noisy at night and all you do is feed and watch them. The second pair escaped and was found a year later in the garage eating pumpkin seeds the boys were saving to plant. Not good either. Later we had guinea pigs and the kids were older and we had more kids by then and they loved them. One son carried them on his shoulder and we put a little leash on them and they'd walk outside with the kids. But the kids were older. They gave birth and had such beautiful little babies. All of these are nice but you will be doing the cleaning most likely or helping with it so pick what you would like to deal with. I found the kids liked them but only in short periods of time and only to look at them so would not recommend them for a 4 year old. Wait until the child is older and can learn to be responsible and use it as a teaching time too.

I've had everything from a pet goat, ferret, parrot, other birds, fish, gerbils, hamsters, cats, dogs, iguana, guinea pigs, turtles, & the easiest most tolerable animal are gerbils. They aren't "very" fragile. Their tail will come off if you pull too hard while they are resisting, although you do pick them up by the tail, butmine have always been tame enough I didn't need to. They don't smell like other caged animals, so you can get away with only changing their cage every couple of weeks. They can be fairly entertaining & will "crawl" all over your child if they will let them. They can be fast, so you do have to keep an eye on them when they are out. Ours just died after 4 years & I'm considering another one because they are fun & easy. Guinea pigs are good, they need their cage cleaned at least once a week, & you have to make sure their feet can touch the bottom so they don't "rot". They can be sociable, but skiddish also. Tehy don't move as fast as some of the others. They need something to chew to make sure their teeth don't get overgrown. So do gerbils, but t. paper rolls & kleenex boxes will work for them. It's best to make certain if you get a guinea pig you get one that is a baby & can be tamed. Hamsters are CUTE, but they can be very tempermental. Out of the 4 or 5 that I had I only had one that didn't bite. Also, they will store food in their cheeks, so you have to watch how much you feed them because they can overeat/overstuff. I consider fish a pain, especially depending on what type you get. My filtration systems never worked properly & it seemed I could never get things quite right for them & to get a plain goldfish, you have to change the water out every couple of days to keep it clean, & the kids usually like to "overfeed" them, not good. Rabbits are a BAD idea. They're cute, but messy & need alot of TLC!(not that all animals don't, but seem to especiall take a lot of time) God luck in your search!

Honestly anything as small as a gerbil or hamster should really be out of the question because they can be hurt so easy. I would suggest a rabbit because they stay calm and are less likely to bite. as for guinea pigs they do tend to bite if you don't get them when they are tiny. also the first thing to teach the 4 year old is how to properly handle a pet. also ferrets are very smart and limber they are also friendly if you get them young. but they do nibble but it feels about like a cat nip.

rabbits can get big depending on the breed. upkeep is rather easy so long as it is a shorthair. bedding can be messy and should be changed at least weekly. they usually don't make to much of a mess while holding them.

Ferrets can be housebroke like a cat. They do require a good sized cage for exercise because they are active but usually sleep during the day. they do have an odor though.

Guinea pigs need a medium sized cage and something to hide in. they also chew a lot. short hairs require less brushing. also their bedding should be changed everyother day. they can not be housebroke so if they are out they will go where they are.

sorry this is so long but i'm an animal lover with 3 dogs fish and chickens. but I have a 1 year old and know how hard it is to find a good pet. Just remember as the parent you have to teach the child how to handle the new pet. I just hate seeing young kids grab hold of the animals and accidently hurt them because they weren't taught right.

We have always had dogs, but as for a 'first' animal my son received it was a hermit crab when he was three. VERY small cage and very easy to take care of. Basically you have a sponge in the cage that needs to be wet every day. Then they have food that you refill as needed. Depending if you use sand or pebbles, clean up is easy! I used sand and just replaced the sand when needed, which wasn't very often. Cleaning the crab is easy too, just stick them in a little bit of water and they get a bath. We would generally do that whenever my son wanted it out so it would be more active. His first crab lived over 2 years! The only other thing you need is another shell once they get bigger so they can switch to a new shell. We have also had fish, but I hated cleaning the tank/bowl. It had a horrible odor that I couldn't stand and it seemed like my kids would feed it way too often and therefore the tank needed clean more often than would generally be necessary!
Good luck! Another thing we did with our crab was we bought a little hamster ball for it to move around the house in. The kids loved watching it in the ball and it was so easy to keep track of, I really don't think you'd be unhappy with a crab!

Seems like there's been a lot of information out there lately about the problems pets like gerbils and such for young kids. Could you content her with fish? How about a bird? I have had VERY loving parakeets and they're minimal as far as work (food and water, change papers, hopefully play with them some to socialize them). No matter what at 4 it is not her pet, remember that when you buy, that you are buying you a pet to share with your 4 year old. I hope you find something great, it's hard wanting your kids to be used to pets and they love animals, but they're not ready that young to really take care.

K.

I have owned many pets both small and large. I have also worked in a pet store, vet clinic and in a labratory setting. If you don't have much time for daily interactions then your best bet is a small fish tank. All small pets need daily interaction to keep them tame. If you are looking for a small pet my best advice it get a fancy rat. they are smart, friendly, clean and the least likely to bite. They can also be spayed and neutered like a cat or a dog. My friends pet rat climbs into your lap and rolls on its back to have its belly rubbed. Really funny and cute.

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