Pets are an excellent way to foster responsibility and compassion in a child. The question is: which pet is best for your family? Depending on your child's age, the family's lifestyle, and the animal's personality, the answer might not be what you expect.
Some pets to consider for your child are:
Ferrets. Ferrets are cute and cuddly pets that require a lot of maintenance. These little animals make great pets for teenagers or older people, and they can be kept indoors and taught various tricks. Since ferrets live to be around ten years old, it is important to know what you are getting into before adopting.
Birds. Birds are a great family pet, particularly when you lack the room and green space for other animals. Watching birds is relaxing and comforting, and many types of birds can be taught tricks, commands, and even verbal communication. These are excellent pets for children of all ages, as long as young kids are taught the proper way to handle and care for the bird.
Reptiles. A reptile, like a turtle, lizard, or snake, can make an excellent pet for children of all ages. These pets don't require a lot of care, although the child should be at an age that they can be taught how to handle the pet properly. Reptiles can be a life-long commitment as many snakes live up to ten years and some tortoises can live much longer.
Pigs. Pigs are considered to be one of the smartest animals alive, so it is no surprise that pigs make excellent pets. The key is having the space and making the commitment to the pet, since many domesticated pigs can live 15-20 years, much longer than feral pigs, which are often targeted by predators. Mini-pigs are smart, clean, and loyal, which makes them ideal pets for any family.
Dogs. When you think of a family pet, a dog likely comes to mind. Dogs are an excellent companion pet for a family and shelters are bursting at the seams with animals in need of homes. Before you adopt a dog, make sure that the family is aware of the time and care required (feeding, training, walking) and that everyone is fully on board before visiting a shelter.
Cats. Cats are an excellent choice for those that may not have the time or ability to provide a lot of care; most cats are very independent. Cats provide a comforting presence for older owners and snuggly love for children. Indoor cats require little maintenance, other than feeding, litter-box training, and routine vet appointments.
Give your child the chance to show responsibility and caring by adopting a pet. Make sure to choose an animal that will integrate with your household and that won't require more work than you are willing to do. Visit your local humane society or pet adoption shelter to find the ideal pet for your family!