What Are The Best Pets for Kids to Get First?

Hilary Smith

September 1, 2020

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One of the many ways parents can teach their children about responsibility is through pet ownership. Giving kids the challenge of caring for another living creature is a tremendous learning experience. Along with their parent’s guidance, many pet choices offer affection in return for a child’s, love, care and attention.

But if you’re thinking of getting your child a pet, then What Are The Best Pets for Kids To Get First?

What Are The Best Pets for Kids to Get First?

Is your child begging for a pet? Do they have their eye on a kitten, puppy, goldfish or a hamster? It can be tricky to make that all important choice of which animal to get. It depends on many different factors and your family circumstances:

  • the child’s age
  • what animals they might be fond of
  • how much time they’ll be able to spend with their new best friend, etc.

Whichever pet you decide on, it’s a good idea to research in advance, so you know what you are letting yourself in for. If possible, I would recommend borrowing a similar pet for a few days to let your child have a go at caring for it before you commit yourself.

Other than the many different breeds of dogs and cats available, here are some other choices for a child’s first pet:

An Ant Farm

ant farm

While insects aren’t for everyone, owning an ant farm can be a visually stunning experience for some kids, who can watch them care for their habitat.

A small amount of food and water must be added from time to time, but these little critters pretty much take care of themselves.

Brine Shrimp

Called sea monkeys in the past, or sometimes called Fairy Shrimp, these have been a longtime favourite as they are so small, they most often come in a kit that you buy at the pet shop. They are a popular species to culture at home because it is relatively easy to keep a population of them. Petplace.com has some instructions on what you need and how to care for them.

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fish tank

These are a good choice for a starter pet since they don’t need much care, love or affection but they still require daily responsibility.

While goldfish are a popular pick for a pet, some prefer to start out with a single Betta fish, often called a Siamese Fighting Fish. They very colourful and are actually easier to raise those most other breeds of fish.


Be prepared to spend many decades with this non-fuzzy long life favourite, as tortoises can live to around 80 years old. But as an added bonus, they’re non-allergenic due to their lack of fur.

The most common species would be the Hermannís Tortoise, other species include Marginated, Spur-thighed and Horsfieldís. Tortoises require very little care and make great pets for small children.



After dogs and cats, hamsters are probably the most popular choice. You will need to clean out their cage regularly, but hamsters are cute and fun for kids as a starter pet. We opted for a dwarf hamster for our daughters, and they adored Agent 105 as we named him!


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Owning a bird is a little bit more challenging than caring for a fish or tortoise, but they’re very social creatures and make excellent pets.

A good choice for a starter is an inexpensive parakeet or canary as more expensive birds like cockatiels and cockatoos which require more care than their cheaper cousins.



Other than hamsters, there are many other rodent pets to choose from like guinea pigs, gerbils, mice and rats. It’s often recommended to get a same-sex pair of rodents for more social types of rodents.

And to reduce the risk of a child being bitten, these animals should be acquired when they’re younger and gently handled often.

Caring for a pet not only gives children a sense of responsibility, it also offers them educational value, a form of entertainment and enjoyment.

Of course you could always go down the traditional four-legged route and get your kids a dog or cat, but some of these other choices are good for beginner pets.

What Are The Best Pets for Kids to Get First

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Published On: September 1st, 2020 / Categories: For Parents / Last Updated: August 3rd, 2021 / Tags: /

About the Author: Hilary Smith

Hilary Smith has parlayed her love of technology and parenting into a freelance writing career. As a journalist, she specializes in covering the challenges of parenting in the digital age. She loves all things tech and hasn’t met a gadget that didn’t peek her interest. The Texas native currently resides in Chicago, IL and braves the winters with her two children, ages 4 and 7.

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