Your Child’s First Pet
Tired of hearing your child whine about wanting a pet? All parents seem to have this problem at one time or another. Many children want a pet, and it’s a perfect way to teach children responsibility. If you’ve decided to give your children the opportunity to have a pet of their own, you just have to figure out which pet is the right pet! There are a few smaller, easier to care for animals that make great first pets. These are typically a bit more affordable than bigger animals such as dogs or cats. However, with any pet, the owner’s personality affects the decision.
Gerbils make great pets for smaller children, as they are active during the day and are extremely curious and friendly. Gerbils are actually desert animals. They are very clean animals, which makes cleaning up after them a lot simpler. For a young child’s first pet, these are perfect! Gerbils are very social animals, so a pair is definitely the way to go with these animals. However, be sure they are not mates, otherwise you’d better be prepared to take care of lots of little gerbils! A large aquarium-style tank with a deep layer of wood shavings makes for a perfect home for these little creatures, as they love to tunnel and dig. To keep them (as well as your child) entertained, tunnel-type toys are great! Gerbil food is relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at any pet store. They also enjoy the occasional bit of lettuce or cheese. Gerbils usually live up to three years.
Guinea pigs are good first pets, as they don’t scratch and can be gently handled. Like gerbils, they’re social creatures, so a pair is preferred. Guinea pigs are very timid, so they need lots of places to hide in their cage. An aquarium-style tank works well for guinea pigs as well, as long as they have a grazing area and places to burrow. Guinea pigs need a daily diet that his high in fiber and vitamin C. Guinea pigs live up to six years.
Most people aren’t entirely keen on the idea of keeping mice, but if you’re looking to get one as a first pet, you should keep in mind that, like the others, they are social. Two to three female mice are the best way to go as males tend to fight and produce a much stronger smell. Cages must be cleaned two to three times a week. A wire-mesh cage works best for mice, as they need a well-ventilated living space, with tunnels and other toys. Mice need a lot of things to gnaw on, such as dog biscuits.
Though they generally have a shorter life span than gerbils or guinea pigs, mice are by far the highest maintenance. However, any of these pets are perfect for a child’s first pet, and what better way to give your child a lesson in responsibility?