Exotic Pets for Kids: Yay or Nay?
It’s a rare child who doesn’t beg their parents for a pet at some point. Even if the family already has a dog or cat, kids may feel the need to have their “own” pet.
If you’ve decided to let your child adopt a small pet, you’ll want to choose one that’s easy to care for, relatively low-maintenance, and one that can tolerate the noise and rambunctious play that often goes along with having children in the home.
Fortunately, The Pet Experts are here to help with some ideas for suitable exotic pets for kids.
Exotic Pets for Kids
Some of the most popular exotic pets are also good candidates for living with kids. We’ve narrowed it down to the following five selections:
- Rats – Rats are friendly, intelligent, clean, and thoroughly enjoy human company. Although kids will still need to be gentle when it comes to handling, rats like to be picked up and played with and can even be taught tricks. Rats should be kept in pairs, and cages need to be fairly large to give them plenty of space to play, as well as a nesting box in which to hide. Rats have an average lifespan of 1-3 years.
- Guinea pigs – These large, friendly, and responsive rodents tend to make good exotic pets for kids. Guinea pig enclosures should be as large as possible and placed in an area of the home where they can observe the goings-on of the family. Guinea pigs should be kept in pairs to prevent loneliness. They have a lifespan of 4-6 years.
- Bearded dragon lizard – Bearded dragons are extremely popular reptile pets due to their tolerance of handling, ease of care (relative to other reptiles), and ability to bond with their owners. Bearded dragons should be kept in a 75-gallon aquarium (at least) with a screened top, a UV lamp, and branches and other areas to hide. Their average lifespan is 6-10 years.
- Gerbils – Gerbils are fairly tame, as long as they’re handled regularly (this may take time and patience). These cuties should be housed in pairs and are fun to watch as they interact and play with each other. Make sure their wire cages are large enough to allow for play and hiding spots. When properly cared for and living with another gerbil, they tend to live about 2-3 years.
- Leopard gecko – Leopard geckos are quickly becoming a popular exotic pet. These docile reptiles tolerate handling well and don’t require a UV lamp (although you’ll want to provide an aquarium that’s large enough to accommodate their needs).
A Few Little Reminders
In order to thrive, every exotic pet has specific requirements around nutrition, housing, and enrichment, so make sure you’ve thoroughly researched your pet of choice before committing. Of course, any animal in the home is ultimately the responsibility of the parents. It’s up to you to teach children proper handling and maintenance techniques. Make sure the pet is receiving proper care and that interactions are supervised if needed.
Exotic pets also require annual checkups from a qualified veterinarian. The Pet Experts are here to help! At Naperville Animal Hospital, we love exotic pets, and our veterinarians and staff are qualified to offer the care your exotic pet requires. Please give us a call for more information!
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