Children who grow up with pets develop a respect and love for animals that they carry into adulthood. Caring for another creature also teaches children how to be responsible, gentle, and nurturing. Pocket pets, in particular, are adorable, docile, and easy to care for, making them a perfect choice for kids who want a pet of their own to look after.
Guinea pigs are a lot of fun because they really enjoy interacting with their human companions and they make quite a few funny sounds to communicate what they want. Children can hold guinea pigs, groom them, feed them, and give them treats to chew on to trim their teeth. Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t bring a guinea pig into your home if any member of the family is allergic to hay, which is their primary food. Also, you can choose to keep a single guinea pig if you know he will get plenty of attention, or get a pair so that they can enjoy enough interaction. If you’re going to keep more than one guinea pig, keep samesex pairs or neuter males that will be around females in order to prevent breeding.
Rats are intelligent, social, and clean pets that, like guinea pigs, really enjoy interacting with one another and their human guardians. And because they’re larger than many other pocket pets, they’re easier for a small child to pick up and carry around. They groom themselves and their cages are easy to maintain too.
Ferrets are highenergy animals that are fun to watch and interact with. And, like all animals, each has its own personality. A single ferret needs a lot of attention, or you can keep more than one ferret, as long as the males are neutered or they’re all the same sex. Creating a ferretproof room is a great idea because these animals need a lot of time to play and explore outside of the cage, which makes them a lot of fun for kids. You do need to groom these little guys, focusing on nails, fur, and even teeth. Beware, though, that young ferrets usually go through a nippy phase.
For an even smaller pocket pet, look to the gerbil, which is another highenergy and funtowatch animal. Gerbils are really easy to care for, as they don’t require any kind of grooming. Keeping the cage clean will also become a simple routine. They do need chew toys to keep their teeth healthy, and careful handling will make them trust children and enjoy the attention.
No matter what pocket pet you choose, take the time to supervise your child, especially at the beginning. This will ensure that he or she knows how to properly handle the animal. Pocket pets can bite, and these creatures are small and delicate, so a child may be too rough if not taught how to handle them appropriately.
When ready to introduce a pocket pet into your home, check your local shelters first. You may be surprised by how many of these animals are waiting for homes.