Choosing a pet for your child is an important moment. You are about to commit yourself and your child to providing for the physical and mental needs of a little being who will live by your side for several years. But which pet to choose for your child ? Is it better to have a small rodent that doesn’t take up too much space, a fish that requires little maintenance or a very affectionate dog? Depending on their age and level of maturity, your child will be more or less able to handle an animal and care for it carefully. You will also have to take into account the rhythm and the lifespan of his future companion. For choose the best pet for your childnow follow our advice.
Choose goldfish for children under 3
Children under 3 can unwittingly be rough with pets. That’s why it’s best to avoid four-legged friends at first. By wanting to cuddle a cat or a rabbit without warning, a toddler risks, for example, stressing the animal and ending up with a claw or a defensive bite from his companion.
Best to head to goldfish for children under 3 years old. The observation of their movements in the water is captivating at this age. If your little one will have the joy of observing them, it will be up to you as a parent to meet their needs. Contrary to what you might think, goldfish need space: count 50 L per fish. Knowing that in nature they live in shoals, only they are unhappy. You will therefore have to opt for at least a 100 L aquarium with two fish. Exit the jars in the shape of a ball without a pump, it would be like placing a human being in a room without a window.
Your fish need to swim and search the ground. The ideal is a rectangular aquarium, with gravel and plants that will have to be replaced regularly since they constitute a meal for the fish! Involve your child in feeding by alternating industrial food (the “flakes”), small worms and vegetables such as peas or pieces of zucchini. This will teach your child to respect the tranquility of animals (do not knock on the aquarium) and to meet their primary needs.
Empower your 4-year-old with a guinea pig
From 4 years old, give responsibility for a guinea pig is a good idea. These little animals express themselves a lot with a very characteristic noise, which will give your child the impression of being able to communicate with them! On the other hand, like the goldfish, the guinea pig is not a solitary animal. He can let himself wither if he is not given enough attention or moments of play. The best is therefore to adopt a couple that you will have to have sterilized or two females.
Regarding the care of the animal, you can entrust your child with several responsibilities. Show her how to change and clean the water bowl so she always stays clean and fresh. Show him how to arrange the hay and prepare a daily ration of vegetables together. This is the perfect opportunity to learn vocabulary and work on your dexterity by peeling and cutting them. You can also give fruit occasionally.
Finally, the guinea pig needs exercise. Plan to take him out of his cage daily. Free in the house or in a park outside, you can set up a course for the animal with your child : tunnels, ramps, small balls, be creative!
As for you, you will have to ensure that the cage is completely cleaned and disinfected every week. It is therefore of course also an important responsibility for adults.
A dog or a cat as a pet for his child from 6 years old
From 6 years old, it’s the perfect time to adopt a dog or a cat. Your child is growing and more likely to be sensitive and attentive to an animal’s behavior and reactions. Before committing, keep in mind that a cat can live up to around 18 years old and a dog up to 15 years old or more. You will also have to deal with your lifestyle. Are you ready to take on a puppy or a kitten full of energy and who will necessarily do some damage in the house? Or will you be more comfortable with an adult animal that has already integrated social codes?
In any case, if you opt for a dog, you must be able to walk it at least three times a day and not just let it out in the garden. For an indoor cat, consider the litter to be changed every week.
Your child will be able to play and cuddle his dog or cat, but will also have to learn how to take care of it and participate in his education. From the age of 6, he can brush his animal, feed it, but also pick up its needs! This is an opportunity to show your child that an animal can bring a lot of affection, but also less pleasant responsibilities. So don’t choose a cat or a dog for a child from 6 years old only if you feel he is ready to invest himself beyond moments of play and affection. Take the time to explain and discuss it beforehand. The “surprise gift” effect is absolutely to be avoided.
Reserve rodents and NACs for teenagers
Contrary to what one might think, thehe small rodents such as hamsters, mice and rats are unsuitable for young children and this for many reasons. First of all, most of these animals have a reverse rhythm compared to ours. Hamsters are particularly awake in the evening and at night, which obviously does not suit a toddler, but on the other hand corresponds better to a teenager. In addition, they are fragile and very lively animals, not always easy to handle. Although its appearance puts some people off, the rat is relatively affectionate and is more willing to be touched and even cuddled than a hamster or a mouse.
As for the NAC (New Pets) they are animals with special needs that can be more or less domesticated. Among them are the famous ferrets. If they can be affectionate, they tend to keep a part of independence. The same goes for chinchillas, which must be approached with care, as they are quite fearful animals. So you have to be patient and not “force” if they don’t want to be petted at first. Thus, apart from guinea pigs and certain breeds of rabbits, most rodents are more suitable for teenagersmore patient and generally less impulsive than very young children.
Finally, among the NAC we also find the whole category of exotic animals, including snakes. These animals with very special needs require the installation of spacious and heated terrariums with food based on small mammals… It’s up to you to discuss with your teenager to be sure that he can take on such a load.