Puppies are very cute indeed, and there is not a child alive that wouldn’t love a gorgeous fluffy kitten. However, and I don’t want to sound alarmist but they grow very quickly from adorable carryable bundles of joy into actual dogs and cats. Dogs that need constant attention and feeding, and training to stop them from eating your furniture. Cats that swipe at you when you approach them the wrong way, then give you nothing but allergies and disdainful looks while you wait on them. Okay, I admit I am generalising here, but I do think it is time to consider some lovely low-care pets that are often overlooked for the “big two”.
These little balls of cuteness are a perfect first pet for a child. They are always funsize and they don’t take up too much space. Just make sure your little one doesn’t accidentally squish them with some overzealous snuggling. You do need to get at least two of them as they are social animals and need little friends to hang out with when you are not around. They do have a bit of a scent to them, so an outside hutch is probably the way to go. Hutch needs to be a minimum of 2 meters long 50cm wide and high so they can keep their steps up. They eat spinach and grass and live 3-5 years.
Rabbits are a clever bunch, which is why they make for agreeable housemates, with some training they can be toilet trained and free to hop around and play around the house without fear of rabbit droppings. They are still quite delicate so again not too much squishing. They do need regular exercise out of their hutch, which should be at least 2 to 3 metres long, with a sleeping area out of the weather. They like to spend the majority of their time inside and love fresh green vegies with their rabbit food. They generally live 5-8 years and can truly become part of the family.
Budgies, cockatiels and canaries are fan favourites for those non-ornithophobics. Easy to care for and intelligent, they can be trained to fly to you and like gentle stroking but are not for those looking for a snuggle on the couch. Cockatiels are great mimics and can learn to whistle and sometimes talk. With just a reasonably small cage to clean and minimal maintenance, birds are a great choice if you feel like your child might lose interest quickly and leave the poor pet to you. So if you don’t mind the occasional swooping. These are a winner.
Thinking small but not an avian fan? Mice are easy to care for, sweet and petite. Entertaining to watch and very low maintenance as long as they have a clean environment and some tasty mice pellets they are happy. Mice can be a bit skittish at first but get used to being handled quite quickly (once again…gently). I large aquarium suits a couple of mice, two females are ideal as males will fight and male + female…. Well, let's just say you might soon need a bigger aquarium. Pet mice usually live for about 3 years and are a good low-cost option that children can keep in their rooms.
So, there you go, so many options for little additions to the family. It is always nice to adopt a pet from an animal shelter, where hundreds of animals are abandoned each year, including all of the above. So you would be giving your family joy and a little fella a new home.