9 Best Small Pets for Kids to Be Their Little Buddies

Published September 4, 2022
Low Angle View Of Kid Holding Hedgehog

If you're looking for a small pet for your child, it can become overwhelming with myriad options available to you. You'll find you are spoiled for choices in pet stores and online. Prior to choosing your pet, research each one individually to discover the pros and cons. You may also want to do some digging to find out what other pet keepers recommend to see if there are any you have missed out on. This guide will help narrow down your options and provide you with some info about each small pet.

Guinea Pigs

Guinea pig

Guinea pigs are a great choice for kids looking for a companion animal who enjoys wandering and eating veggies out of their hands. They're easy to care for and can be kept in a ventilated cage easily. They don't require any special equipment beyond their cage, and food and water bowls. Unlike some other pets that require regular grooming, guinea pigs don't need much maintenance beyond daily feeding and cleaning of the area they live in.

Some people choose not to litter train their Guinea pig, but it is possible if you want your pet to use a litter box like cats do, which is an excellent way to keep their living space cleaner. If you choose to go this route, remember that it may take some time before your piglet gets used to using their new bathroom habit.

Guinea pigs can also be trained with positive reinforcement techniques. They can be taught how to use wheels as well as run through mazes and tunnels if given the time and opportunity. These small pets greatly enjoy human interaction, especially if it begins at a young age.

Guinea pigs typically live between 5 and 8 years old, so make sure you have plenty of time and are willing to make the commitment when deciding whether or not this might be the pet for your family.

Gerbils

Pet gerbils looking out of cage

Gerbils are a good choice for a pet if you have time to spend with them and they don't need to be taken out of the cage often. Gerbils naturally live in groups, so it's important to get at least two gerbils. Gerbils are nocturnal, so they will be active during the night and sleep during the day. They like to burrow in their bedding, so you'll need to give them something soft to burrow in, like shredded paper or hay.

Gerbils are social animals, so they do best when kept as part of a group. They also enjoy being handled by humans, but this should be done infrequently because it can stress them out too much.

Hamsters

Hamster Eating Food On Floor

Hamsters are good pets for children because they're easy to care for and are inexpensive. They also come in a variety of colors and sizes, so you can choose one that suits your child's personality.

Hamsters are social animals, which means they enjoy the company of other hamsters or humans. You may need to get two hamsters. Otherwise, your hamster could become lonely without any playmates! Hamsters should be kept in pairs or groups at all times because they can become depressed when isolated from others of their species.

Fish

Goldfish

When it comes to small pets, fish can be a great choice for kids. They're low-maintenance and easy to care for, plus they're a great option for kids with allergies. Fish can live in relatively small aquariums, depending on which species you choose. You'll need to clean out their tank regularly, perform water changes, remove any waste, and replace water that has evaporated. You'll also need to feed them on a regular schedule and make sure that the food is high-quality.

If you have a saltwater tank, you'll need to follow a variety of additional husbandry guidelines. Mixing saltwater from a commercial aquarium salt preparation is a requirement to make sure tank chemistry is appropriate for the species you're keeping. You'll also need to clean the tank regularly, depending on how often you change the water. Saltwater tanks require more upkeep than freshwater, so be ready for the added commitment if you choose this route.

If you want to get more involved with your fish's care, it can be fun to learn about their different behaviors and personalities.

Rabbits

Cute Young Content Netherland Dwarf Rabbit

Rabbits make great pets. They love to be held, cuddled, and petted. They are very affectionate and can be trained to come when called. Rabbits are fairly clean and will use the litter box if you provide one. They also need a cage that is large enough for them to stretch out in and exercise. Rabbits like company and can be housed with other rabbits or small animals, such as guinea pigs or hamsters.

Rabbits should be kept indoors during the day but allowed access to an outdoor run during the day and at night. Be sure your bunny has a place to hide from predators such as cats or dogs if you let them out of their cage for exercise outside their pen.

Mice and Rats

Close-Up Of Hand Holding Mouse

Mice and rats are easy to care for because they're small, but they still need daily care, including cleaning out their bedding, giving them fresh water and food every day, and making sure they have exercise time outside their cage. They're easy to handle because they are small enough to pick up and hold in the palm of your hand. Just make sure to wash your hands with soap before and after they're handled. Also, remember when holding them not to squeeze too hard because it could hurt them.

Rats can be trained through positive reinforcement techniques, such as clicker training. Rats are very intelligent, and can even learn how to turn on lights by pressing buttons or switches. You'll want two per cage, so there's plenty of room for both genders' needs; however, one male plus two female pairs would work just fine, too.

Be aware that keeping mice or rats in mixed-gender groups is very likely to result in babies before very long. The mating season generally happens between springtime through fall months; however, breeding indoors may occur year-round depending upon temperature fluctuations within each household.

Birds

Blue Arara Rescued By An Sanctuary

Birds are one of the most popular pets for kids. Some are pretty and relatively small, like the Parakeet, whereas others are larger, like the Macaw. Birds are also great at learning tricks, and some can even talk. You may be able to teach your bird to say their name, whistle a song, and even do a dance. Some species, such as Parrots, can also learn how to play fetch or sit on your shoulder when they're tired.

If you have an older child who's interested in taking care of a pet bird, make sure that they understand that their new friend needs space for flying around each day. It's very important for young children not to leave the cage unattended because this could cause injury or lead to escape.

Hedgehogs

A hedgehog eating a multicolored food on a tree stump

A hedgehog is another good pet for a child, although they're relatively uncommon in most households. They're easy to care for, quiet, friendly, and easy to transport. They also require very little maintenance.

Hedgehogs are naturally nocturnal, so they'll sleep during the day. At night they can be let out of their cage and play in your home without causing any damage or getting into anything dangerous, as long as you have a Hedgehog-safe area set up. Hedgehogs are naturally solitary creatures, so unless you're planning on breeding them, it's best not to get more than one at a time since they'll fight if housed together in the same enclosure.

Ferrets

Ferret

Ferrets are very popular as small pets, and for good reason. However, they are not legal in all states, and are totally banned in California and Hawaii, so check regarding your local laws before trying to obtain one.

They're relatively small, easy to handle and train, and are social animals who enjoy human interaction. They can be playful and active, but also calm enough to fall asleep while you hold them. They're clean animals who rarely produce odors in their cages or litter boxes (though ferrets do produce a natural musk scent that some people do not like).

Ferrets can be great pets for children because they love attention and tend not to bite unless they are provoked or frightened by sudden movements. If your child wants a furry friend but you have concerns about allergies or other issues with other types of pets, a ferret can be a good choice. Ferret lovers report that the little critters will even cuddle up next to kids at night when sleeping; how cute does that sound?

Choose Carefully

Make your choice carefully. You're not just deciding on an animal, you're deciding on a companion who will accompany you and your children for years to come. Remember, a pet is a commitment. Start by asking yourself some questions: Do I have the time and energy for a pet? Do I have enough space in my home for the animal? Is my schedule too hectic for an animal that needs constant attention? If the answer to these questions is "No," then maybe getting a pet isn't right for you right now. However, if all of those answers are "Yes!", then you can go ahead and consider adopting your new best friend!

Was this page useful?
Related & Popular
9 Best Small Pets for Kids to Be Their Little Buddies