Many parents are all too familiar with their kids pleading for a pet. There are many reasons for and against giving in to these pleas, and since we are partial to pets here at Nature’s Aid, we are going to strengthen the reasons to get a pet: they offer great companionship to kids (yes, even fish), provide love and confidence, and the added bonus of teaching responsibility.
These 4 low maintenance pets are great for kids and your budget as they require little more than food, water and shelter.
Most freshwater fish are durable and inexpensive. They require a bowl, food once or twice a day, and a few simple aquarium supplies to clean the bowl once a week. When kept out of direct sunlight, algae grows more slowly and cleanings can be done less often.
If a betta or goldfish in a bowl goes well, you can upgrade to a fish aquarium, and maybe a few more fishies – aquariums with lights can even double as a nightlight! Just remember to keep only one male betta per tank.
Rodents can be great fun for kids; small, cuddly and intelligent, rats, guinea pigs and gerbils are particularly good options.
Rats live 2-4 years and require a cage that provides at least 2 cubic feet per rat. For a healthy, happy rat, they should be allowed supervised play for a few minutes each day outside of their cage.
Guinea Pigs live 4-6 years, are sweet, cuddly and happy to be chubby – no running wheel required! They don’t tend to bite (unlike hamsters) but need more real estate, requiring 4 square feet of cage per animal. To ensure a good relationship with a guinea pig, it is important that they are held regularly.
Gerbils live 3-4 years and are happiest in pairs (or more). They are not solitary animals and if kept alone, even if you play with them constantly, will be unhappy and unhealthy. They are also active during the day so your child will get to enjoy playing with them during daylight hours.
Small birds, such as budgies and parakeets, make great pets for older children who understand how to touch and pet gently. Generally confined to their cages, birds don’t make much of a mess, however, their papers should be changed once a day and their cages should be thoroughly cleaned once a week.
If only one bird is brought into the home, the rest of the family will become its flock and the bird will require more care and attention – at least an hour of daily interaction. In pairs, the birds won’t require as much attention from the family.
They are sweet and cuddly but also independent and extremely clean. The biggest drawbacks are shedding and the scratching of carpets and furniture which can easily be controlled with a scratching post or a simple piece of cardboard.
Before bringing a cat into the home, ensure no one in the family is allergic. Another consideration is the age of the cat. Although many people want to bring home a small kitten, cats that are 1-3 years old are actually better suited to children; they still have all the playfulness of a kitten but are stronger and can more easily stand accidental roughness from little ones.
With enough food and water, a litter box and some toys, cats are perfectly content to be left home alone during the day or even overnight.