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Pet Ideas for Kids

One of the best methods for choosing a pet is finding one whose maintenance requirements best suits your temperament and lifestyle.

Low maintenance pets are pets that don’t require a lot of nurturing or special care.

They don’t require grooming, walking or even petting. Just basic food, water and shelter.

These are good starter pets. Meet the 6 easy pets for kids:

Most types of fish (freshwater) are inexpensive to buy and maintain after the initial investment of a tank or bowl, and aquarium supplies.

However, some fish are hardier than others. For younger children, go for inexpensive, durable fish, such as goldfish. You don't want floaters to start off your child's animal career. Begin with a solitary goldfish or beta in a simple bowl.

If that's a hit, you can move on to a fish aquarium. Lighted aquariums can even function as a nightlight in a child's room.

Maintenance will be simply feeding once or twice a day, and cleaning the fishbowl or aquarium once a week.

And if you keep the bowl or aquarium away from direct sunlight, algae will grow more slowly and you can clean it less often.

2. easy pets for kids: reptiles and snakes.

Little boys - and some little girls - love exotic animals like lizards and snakes. A lot of moms don't.

If your child is going to have snakes or lizards, be sure there's an adult in the house who's willing to handle it. You've got to have that back up person with these critters.

Put the reptile in an aquarium with a locked top. You don't want your daughter taking it out without your supervision.

Avoid large predatory snakes, such as pythons. They're hard wired to put the squeeze on anything the same size or smaller than they are - including children.

know what you're getting into.

Research the temperament of an animal and its living requirements before you give it a green light. Some require live (shudder) food.

This might be a good time to consider ordering pet food online to minimize the ugh factor.

If you're determined to bring a snake home, however, try to get one that has been trained to munch on frozen mice instead of the live, running-around kind.

Then all you have to do at feeding time is heat to room temperature - and serve the little carnivore.

size matters.

Some reptiles, like iguanas, grow to 5 feet in length, at which point they can can become hazardous to other animals.

Others, such as pythons, can grow to a scary 13 feet in length, and then can become hazardous to everyone. Don't forget to ask how large the reptile will be at adulthood before you bring it home.

Although reptiles are generally sturdy creatures, they are still living creatures. And sturdy or not, young children shouldn't be allowed to handle them without a parent supervising the interaction. (Read 9 Tips for Preventing Zoonotic Diseases.)

When shopping for lizards, choose one that is relatively tame and doesn't try to bite. Good lizard choices include leopard geckos and bearded dragon, as they are simpler to care or than some other species.

Good snake choices include the corn snake, rat snake, or king snake.

keeping reptiles and snakes comfortable.

While reptiles and snakes are relatively easy to care for, they do have needs you'll want to consider before bringing one home.

These include the following pet supplies to keep him comfortable:

Tropical or desert reptiles will also need a heat source. And this will not be cheap.

The bearded dragon, for example, requires a 10-gallon terrarium with a screen top for the first year. And a 40-gallon terrarium as he grows (very, very fast) up to 18 inches in length.

Many reptiles are omnivores, which means they not only eat fruit and vegetables, but steak and mice as well. This is not a simple matter of dropping in some pellets daily.

Reptile pets don't need a lot of exercise (though if you released one near me, I would get a lot of exercise), and they don't need a lot of attention. Figure on about 15 to 30 minutes a day to feed them, and about an hour a week to clean the tank.

3. easy pets: tortoises and turtles.

Tortoises and turtles are other good reptile choices. Make sure you provide the right environment for your species.

Turtles can be affectionate, and are quite long-lived: 30 to 40 years for the box turtle alone.

This is one animal it will likely pay to consider having pet insurance for.

Even though they look sturdy, be sure the kids are careful not to drop them.

It could injure their shells, or their internal organs.

Tortoises, in particular, shouldn't be handled often.

4. easy pets: rats and mice.

Rats and mice are two different species with two different personalities.

Rats are especially intelligent and friendly, despite their nasty looking tails.

Mice are cute and fun to watch in the cages, but are too squirmy and nippy for much holding and loving.

If you want a love bucket - get a rat. Hold them at the store and if the rat is a nipper, request another one Also, the younger you get them, the easier they are to tame and bond with.

male or female?

Good question. Male rat urine can be a bit smelly. And males like to mark their territory with a drop or three of urine - a drawback if you let him out.

On the other hand, males are a lot calmer and more loving. If you change the litter at least once a week, smell should not be an issue.

You'll need a special place for a rat cage, because the shavings or litter can be messy. And the cages take up a lot of room: Each rat needs a minimum of two cubic feet of living space.

So if you have a rat couple, that means you'll need a cage of 2 feet by 2 feet.

Rats also need to be let out to run around at least a few minutes each day. You or your child will need to supervise this outing, as they like to nibble through electrical cords and other wires. And of course you don't want them getting lost in your closets or walls, either.

Rats live 2 to 4 years; mice 1 to 3.

other rodents:

Hamsters. They can bite; they're also more vocal than most rodents. They're best kept alone. They're also nocturnal, so expect them to be a bit sleepy during the day, and more active than you would like at night. They live 2 to 3 years.

Gerbils. These are small but fun pets for kids. Not as intelligent or cuddly as rats, however. They are happier in pairs - so get a couple. They live 2 to 3 years.

Guinea pigs. These chubby little rodents make sweet, gentle pets. Get a pair. They need a large cage, and a special diet of hay, vegetables, and vitamin C. They live 5 to 7 years.

5. easy pets: small birds.

Birds aren't good pets for kids under the age of 8. Younger children generally aren't gentle enough with them to properly care for them. And young children dart around, and alarm birds.

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