The Best Furry Friends for Kids: 9 Options Perfect for Families

Posted by Christy Caplan
Guinea Pig

What animal is best for your kid? What pets did you have growing up? Our staff did a lot of research to come up with this list but it's dependent on where you live, the space you have available and how much time your kid has to help raise this new family member. Pets absolutely improve our children's lives!

The best pets for your kids range from guinea pigs, rabbits, turtles, lizards, hamsters, fish, dogs (with parental supervision/guidance), chickens if you have room for a coop, and hedgehogs. 

Pets teach kids a number of life lessons including empathy, responsibility and help build confidence! The list won't surprise you, but we tried to narrow down the type of lizard, for example, that best suits kids.

1. Guinea pigs

Small pets like guinea pigs are essentially small pint-sized family members. They make a great first pet for children. They do have a short lifespan of 4-8 years. It is generally recommended to provide guinea pigs with a daily vitamin C supplement, in case they are not receiving adequate amounts in their diet.

2. Rabbits

pet rabbits

Try looking for your rabbit at the humane society. Rabbits do need a significant amount of attention and you must do research on their living space. These small animals require gentle handling.

3. A turtle

Care.com tells us,

"Turtles are cute but quite complicated to keep. They need to live in a specific type of environment to really thrive. Everything from the temperature to the lighting must be just right, so you have to be ready and willing to set up those conditions.

Turtles have particularly long lifespans compared to most other pets, so you might have to care for them long after your kids are off to college."

Considerations: Not all states allow the sale or keeping of turtles or amphibians, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and because of the risk for spreading germs like salmonella, you shouldn't keep a turtle if you have children under the age of five or other people with weak immune systems living in your household.

4. Lizards (Best for older children)

Bearded dragons are the best pet lizards for kids because they're very gentle, docile, and extremely easy to care for in captivity. These lizards are a fave of our staff! They'll live to about ten years old. Most lizards are solitary and not social animals.

5. Hamsters

Hamsters are a great small pet to start out with. However, just when it's time for your child to go to sleep, it's time for a hamster to wake up...

Therefore, hamsters need to be handled only with adult supervision by children under 8 years old. There are five common types of hamsters. The most common are golden or Syrian hamsters. They like to be on their own.

6. Fish

Unlike mammals, fish are cold-blooded. This means that they do not maintain constant internal body temperature; instead, their temperature is greatly influenced by their environment. Molly fish and betta fish or Siamese fighting fish are good fish for kids.

7. Dogs (With parental supervision/guidance)

Sherman

This goes without saying but the parents should be the main caretakers when school and other activities interfere. A dog gives a lot of affection but requires daily work! Having a dog is a tremendous amount of responsibility but will help build a child's confidence. Do your research!

8. Chickens (Yard permitting)

Chicken Brahma

Our staff writes a lot about chickens and if you have a big enough yard for a coop then a few chickens make a wonderful pet for a child. They're relatively easy to care for and can be handled. And it'll be super fun for your kids to collect eggs every day. They also keep the yard free of insects!

9. Hedgehogs

Parents.com explain that hedgehogs are cute but do require maintenance and mula,

"These spiny mammals may not make cuddly pets, but they are cute, friendly, and relatively long-lived, with a lifespan of five to seven years. And if hedgehogs are handled while still young, they will grow to be social with your child. A downside is that you might find yourself spending more money caring for them."

Good luck with your research!

What pets did you have growing up? What did you and your child decide to bring home? Leave a comment below!

WATCH NOW: Why Pets Are the Best

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The Best Furry Friends for Kids: 9 Options Perfect for Families