Have you ever given any thought to what the best starter pets for kids are? You probably haven’t until you get the request! So they’ve been begging for a pet? Because your kids can’t even pick their clothes off the floor or pee straight into the toilet, you question their ability to feed, care, and clean up after an animal. Are they ready for a pet?
If you want to test the waters of responsibility, these five starter pets are probably the best for kids. They are a good way to teach pet care while giving your kids will get the thrill of a new creature friend.
The Best Starter Pets for Kids to Test Their Readiness
1. Hermit crab
Hermit crabs are cool little dudes. All they require is a small tank with some gravel and sand on the bottom. They like to eat fresh foods such as chopped apples, grapes, bananas, dark leafy greens, and broccoli. They are very sensitive to chlorine, so a nonmetallic bowl with filtered or bottled water is best. Contrary to their name, hermit crabs like friends! Consider getting two hermit crabs so they can be buddies. Be aware that as hermit crabs grow, they will need new shells to grow into.
2. A Lizard
Because they are fun to watch and require minimal maintenance, lizards are one of the best starter pets for kids. You will need a large aquarium or cage with a tight lid (lizards are known escape artists). Depending on the type of lizard you get, you might need a basking light for them. Since lizards love to climb, make sure to create a fun terrain for them with various sized rocks and branches. Lizards eat crickets, grasshoppers, and mealworms—many of which you can find in your own backyard.
Ants make great pets when they’re kept safely in an ant farm. Today’s ant farms are even cooler than the one you had as a kid! Another great reason to give your child an ant farm is that they serve as very cheap entertainment. A kid could spend hours watching busy ants build tunnels in their new home. All they need is a little bit of water and some small crumbs daily to survive. That being said, ants will die and your child might get sad. However, you can turn their untimely deaths into a learning opportunity to teach and observe the life cycle. Did you know that ants will carry their dead to a “midden” area which is basically the colony’s landfill? Pretty cool.
Alas, it’s a right of passage in a child’s life to own a fish for a pet. Fish are cool to watch and thanks to Nemo, make great silent companions for kids. They are easily one of the best starter pets for kids. As long as you give them a tank to swim around in, daily food to eat, and clean their habitat regularly, your fish can live for years and years. Or you can do all of those things and one morning when your child is filling up his cereal bowl in the kitchen, he’ll notice little Swifty floating weirdly at the top of the bowl. That’s not a fun conversation to have. But I guess that comes with the territory of having any pet.
5. Fake Pets
If you want to avoid that conversation altogether, you might want to consider a fake pet. There are some pretty fun fake pets out there, like this kitty cat that breathes continuously for up to four months. You can get fake turtles in a tank, puppies that walk on a leash and poop, and even fake fish that swim in a tank. These may be the best of all of the starter pet for kids, depending on your perspective.
So when did you get your first pet? When did you let your kids get their first pet? My first pet was a rambunctious dalmatian puppy. He was adorable, but waayyy too much for a small child to handle. Sadly, he was returned to his owners the next week. One helpful tip I came across when researching the best beginner pets: get a dog that is already full grown. One that is house-trained and mellow with children.
Do you agree that these are the best starter pets for kids or have any other insights to share?