Children love animals, and once the idea of getting a pet enters their little head… it’s all they can talk about. It would be easy to cave and buy them all a puppy or a pony, but we all know that a three-year-old would have a pretty tricky time taking care of a high-maintenance pet (so guess who it falls on!). Think outside the box and try a ‘starter’ pet to teach your kids about empathy and responsibility.
An exotic bird such as the cockatiel is a pet your child will feel pride in taking care of. Not many kids can boast owning birds at such a young age and even fewer can say they own an affectionate bird that is known to interact with its owner. The cockatiel only requires a small cage, a few little toys and feed that is cheap and will only be eaten sparingly. A bird such as the cockatiel that’s known to make physical contact with humans is an animal that your child will no doubt bond and grow with.
Our children see bunnies in children’s books, posters and all over the TV. Bringing home a rabbit for your child to take care of will make them feel like they have a movie star in their living room! Bunnies are a safe and easy pet to take care of – they also happen to be awesome to snuggle up with. The most important aspects of caring for a rabbit are making sure that it has enough space to roam while also having a proper place to do their business. Just like cats, rabbits require a litter box. Let your children handle the feeding process and have them use personalised labels to identify foods and toys that belong to your new pet.
Ditch the gerbil and guinea pig for something a bit more exotic. Chinchillas are like the cooler, quicker, smarter, more playful and all round more enjoyable version. Along with being more rewarding pets, chinchillas can also live to between 12-15 years and require a little more maintenance. These agile little guys require dust baths twice a week and a healthy dose of exercise. Feel free to let them roam throughout designated areas of the house that are sectioned off. It’s also important that you teach your children how to properly handle these fragile animals.