best pet for kids by age

What are the best pets for kids by age? Glad you asked! Choosing the right pets for children based on their age helps ensure his or her first pet experience is successful.

A quick word of caution first for parents of kids under age 6: This group generally isn't capable of understanding a pet's needs and caring for it properly.

So when it comes to pets for toddlers, realize that a new pet is truly your new baby. Don't go into the situation with false expectations.

That's not fair to the kid or the pet. That said, here are the best pets for kids by age group.

Best Pet for Kids 5-Years-Old and Younger

Good beginner bets include those that are confined to a cage so that kids can enjoy watching them, and parents can control when it comes out of the cage, and supervise the kids with pets.

Because most animals aren't too keen on having their ears tugged, tail pulled, or sharing their food, a tolerant pet and a physical boundary, such as a cage, is essential.

That, and good supervision of pet-child interactions, is essential to a successful first-time pet experience.

Small pets to get here include guinea pigs, gerbils, rats, and hamsters. 

Best Pet for Children Ages 6 to 9

School age kids are able to develop a bit more responsibility for a pet and can adequately care for - with help from parents:

  • Durable freshwater fish, such as goldfish
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Small birds such as cockatiels and parakeets
  • Lizards, such as leopard gecko, red ackie, bearded dragon, and the Argentine black and white tegu
  • Snakes such as the corn snake, rat snake, and king snake
  • Turtles and tortoises

These pets offer the added benefit of being easy to care for and offer more opportunities for child-pet interaction. 

At this point, kids can begin taking more responsibility for the care and feeding of their pet. This is also the time to stress important pet hygiene and safety. (Read more about preventing zoonotic diseases here.)

Once these gradeschool-age kids begin showing they can handle the added pet-care responsibility, when they're a bit older, they can move on to a larger pet.

(See Pet Chores for Kids by Age to get ideas on what pet responsibilities kids can handle at various ages.)

Best Pet for Kids Ages 10 to 13

These tweens are morphing into little teenagers, who can handle the responsibility of feeding, exercising, and cleaning up after their animals.

Good pet ideas here include dogs, cats, and rabbits.

Best Pet for Teens 14 to 17

This is the time to allow teenagers to have a pet bird or fish aquarium. Because you're there to ensure these more care-intensive pets get the care and feeding they require, it can prove to be a great learning experience for everyone.

Once you've matched a child by age with the right animal, these 9 Pet Safety Tips for Kids can help ensure everyone in your home stays safe under the new arrangement. Get more information on kids and family pets here.

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