One of the questions people ask me is what is a good first pet?
It really depends on the household and the child. I usually dissuade people from getting an animal too early for multiple reasons. First I find that the mom, or the parent in the home taking care of the children, is usually over worked and overwhelmed–especially when the kids are under eight (or in some cases) under 12.
In today’s world, kids are not always required to pitch in by doing chores or helping around the house. In the cases where the pets become the responsibility of the kids–they forget or lose interest in maintaining their job–usually agreed to prior to obtaining the pet.
I do believe that one of the big problems in the world today is that we are so isolated from animals/pets and that animals in the household, neighborhood, or community are important. This is often reinforced by the people I meet when we are working animals and the excitement I see when people spy a wild rabbit, hawk, squirrel, or barnyard creatures such as chickens, ducks, and others.
So, what is a good first pet? I’d start with something that does not require huge amounts of caretaking such as grooming, walking, and playtime. For young animals you might consider a hermit crab, a betta fish, and a cricket.
Each of those animals is easy to care for and low in maintenance. Also, they provide opportunity for parents to help the child understand the importance of each creature and the habitat they reside.
As for other animals, instead of getting a pet consider arranging your kid to become a junior docent or volunteer at a humane society, zoo, or other animal facility. Kids love to help and the once a week commitment is manageable.
Setting tangible rewards for goal achievement can be to obtain the desired animal in the future. Spend the time researching so that the whole family is involved in the decision making process. You can properly prepare and then truly be ready for the new furry family member.
On that note, I just found this article–fish can be very complicated to care for but you can get started with easier species such as the Betta or a Gold Fish.
BTW: My first word was “fish.” We had a gold fish and my grandfather (who could barely speak English as he immigrated from Mexico) and I both giggled as we each tried to utter the word. The family legend is that was the first inkling they had of my life with animals.