Images courtesy of Petco
February is the month of love, and what love is sweeter than that between a child and their first pet? We automatically think of kids and dogs playing in the garden, but there are a number of other, smaller and more interesting pets to consider for those with space restrictions or allergy problems.
Pets have a positive impact on the children who love and care for them; children with pets are known to have a higher levels of emotional intelligence and empathy than those without pets. If children are given the responsibility of caring for their animals, they experience pride in themselves and have higher self esteem. Keep pet chores and tasks age-appropriate, not only for the safety of the pet, but also for the child’s general well-being.
Children with four-legged pets are more physically active, and less likely to be overweight or obese than their peers, as there is no greater incentive for activity than a dog that wants to go for walks. Read on for some more tongue-in-cheek benefits of owning a pet here.
Think carefully before choosing a pet for your home, as an animal is a big responsibility. Consider your budget, but remember that it’s not only the initial cost that will affect you, but also food, grooming, housing and possible vet bills in future. Also consider the size of your home and garden space, and make sure that the space that you have is suitable for your pet. Unless you’re planning to clean those cages yourself, make sure that your children are old enough to cope with their pet’s daily needs. Some bigger birds, like Macaws, can live up to 60 years, which should be factored into your decision.
We have done research and found some unusual pets that you might want to consider, if a busy puppy is just too much for you.
- Smaller rodents, and even rats – they are intelligent and can be safely housed in cages.
- Fish are a good first pet, as they have few needs and don’t take up much space.
- An ant farm is entertaining and educational, and does not require a lot of maintenance.
- Reptiles like lizards, snakes and tortoises are low maintenance and require little attention.
- Spiders. We kept this one for last, but apparently they do make good pets.
If you don’t have or don’t want pets for your children, you can still volunteer at a local animal welfare branch. You and your children can spend a morning cleaning out cages or giving these abandoned pets some much-needed love and attention, while teaching your family about the joys of volunteering.
For more about the many benefits of owning a pet read here.