Which pet for children?

Which pet is best for children?

A soft furry best friend, learning about responsibility and the inevitable face of grief and loss. Giving your child a pet brings many things worth considering. Before making the big decision, it's always a good idea to consider the pros and cons of different kinds of pets. Read on to find out more about children and pets - even if you have allergies in the family.

Rabbit

Long soft ears and a cute expression - these little bunnies are hard to resist. But actually, the little animal requires a lot more than many might think. In recent years, "free-range" rabbits have become more and more common. That is, a rabbit that is not caged.

A rabbit needs a lot of space to move around, and preferably as many hours a day as possible. If the rabbit is caged for most of its life, there is a high risk of an overweight, aggressive and unhappy rabbit.

Rabbits can run freely around the house just like a cat. It can learn to go to the toilet in a litter tray or in its cage. You can also choose to have the rabbit outside in the garden. All you need to do is provide a fox-proof area that you can lock the rabbit in at night.

The rabbit is quite cheap to buy, but can be expensive to run. It needs fresh hay every day, fruit and vegetables and, of course, plenty of opportunity for exercise. In addition, it can more or less look after itself. You don't have to walk it like a dog, and it can be left at home on its own.

In the wild, rabbits live in colonies. This means that they live side by side but alone. You can therefore keep a rabbit alone. If you have two together they must be neutered and otherwise have plenty of space.

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Find out more in the big facebook group "Frikanin". Be aware that many books about rabbits have outdated knowledge, so read them with a critical mind.

A rabbit is

  • Cheap to buy
  • Does not require much, except space
  • Maybe not fond of being lifted and hugged a lot by a child
  • Not the best indoor animals for allergy sufferers as they shed a lot and need hay and bedding that dusts
  • Can easily stay outside all year - An option for the allergy sufferer

Porpoise

The cute little creatures come in many colours and different fur types. They don't require as much space as a rabbit and can live mainly in their cage, as long as it's big enough. However, you should be aware that guinea pigs are pack animals and therefore need to live at least two together. As a general rule, two guinea pigs should have a cage of 50*100 cm.

Guinea pigs are not nocturnal - that is, they are awake during the day and are usually quiet and sleep most of the night.

Unlike rabbits, guinea pigs are very talkative. They make little squeaks of delight when you come home, or when they smell something delicious nearby. Conversely, they may also growl if they feel threatened or unsafe. This makes it easy for children to read the animal's signals.

Guinea pigs feed on hay, fodder and fruit and vegetables. In summer, the baby can go hunting for dandelions, which are many guinea pigs' favourite food.

Guinea pigs can live outside, but not all year round, as they are vulnerable to draughts. You should therefore be prepared to keep them indoors for at least part of the year. They are generally a bit fragile and you should expect a lifespan of 3-5 years, although of course there are always some that break the average.

The little animals love to get out of their cages and peck at their owner. You can sit with the guinea pig on a towel while watching TV in the evening. They can also go for a run on the floor, where you can train the guinea pig to go to the toilet on a small tray, or jump into its cage when it needs to.

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When buying your guinea pig, you can either buy privately or from a pet shop. In pet shops, several litters are often mixed and the young are often taken from their mother. There is therefore a high risk of disease. It is better to look for a good private breeder on, for example, The Blue Paper, or check the terms at the pet shop carefully before buying.

Good to know before buying guinea pigs

  • Guinea pigs should always live with at least one other guinea pig, as they are pack animals
  • They cannot live outside all year round as they do not tolerate draughts
  • Guinea pigs make nice little noises
  • They love to snuggle on the sofa or be put on the floor for a run (watch out for the wires)
  • They feed on hay, pellets and fruit and vegetables

Hamster

A hamster is a curious little rodent that has been one of the most popular pets for children for years. They are easy to care for and don't require much space.

However, you should be aware that the hamster is nocturnal. This means that the small animal is active at night, running around in its cage, playing and eating, etc. Typically, the hamster wakes up between 4pm and 6pm on weekdays. This means that it sleeps during the hours when most of us are usually at nursery, school or work.

You can choose between a golden hamster or a dwarf hamster. Both animals prefer to live alone, as they can become aggressive towards each other. The golden hamster is slightly larger than the dwarf hamster, and slightly more active.

The cage for a golden hamster should be at least 50 * 100 cm.

The cage for a dwarf hamster should be at least 40 * 70 cm.

Budgerigar or other bird

The budgie is probably the most popular choice of bird as a pet for children. It comes in many beautiful colours, and is a lovely animal that loves company. The bird needs a spacious cage and to get out and fly around the house 3-4 times a day. Birds need to live together at least two by two as they are pack animals.

However, you should be aware that a budgie can be very noisy. This is true of all birds. They can sing beautifully, but they can also "squawk" and make very loud scratching noises. It may not be ideal to have the bird in a child's room or bedroom.

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As a pet for children, you should also consider that a budgie cannot be "petted" as such. It is therefore perhaps more of a pet that is fun to look at. Also, it takes a lot of patience and time to tame it, so the child probably needs to be at least 8-10 years old before they can really look after the budgie themselves. Until then, of course, it's fun and entertaining to watch.

Allergies to birds are rare in themselves, but they can be very dusty. They flap their wings and spread their food and litter all over the place. So a daily bout with the vacuum cleaner is probably unavoidable.

Reptiles

Reptiles have become increasingly popular as pets for children - in part because they're great for children with allergies. Reptiles are different from traditional pets in many ways. They don't necessarily like to be picked up and handled, and they require special living conditions such as heat lamps and special diets.

On the other hand, they are fascinating animals that children will get a lot out of observing.

Reptiles as pets can be:

  • Turtle
  • Leopard gecko
  • Tyresnog

Or other reptiles. It's always a good idea to get proper advice before acquiring reptiles. For the most part, they will only thrive if their living conditions are ideal.