Small Pets Suitable for Children

Many studies have shown positive benefits for children when they grow up in homes with pets, however it is not always possible for a child to have a pet cat or dog. Here are some smaller pets worth consideration for children.



peace with my buddies by Leino88.  Tetras.

Fish have the advantage that they have no allergens and no real odor concerns. Different species can work in any size tank to accommodate any amount of space or aquarium size. They can be left for a few days and with a proper filter, regular maintenance can be done once a week. Care must be taken with kids and fish in that they do not put things into the tank (such as coins) which will eventually kill the fish. Children also need to be taught not to overfeed their fish, this too will kill them and excess food will make the water dirty.   Some of the best fish for children are Bettas, Goldfish, Guppies, or Tetras.  Be aware that guppies will multiply, do not get them unless you are prepared to deal with their offspring. 


fritzli the treefrog by VannaGocaraRupa.  Tree Frog

Frogs and salamanders can make good pets for children. The main concern with them is that the children wash their hands both before, and after, handling the pet. Salmonella is a concern with some amphibians, especially turtles. If given a good sized enclosure these pets are quite happy to be watched and do not need daily handling. Some species do not like being handled as it causes stress. Most amphibians are a bit more tricky than fish in that they need special lighting and regular misting of their tank. A few species of frogs, such as the red eyed tree frog, are nocturnal, and therefor may not be enjoyed by children.


Seth Gecko, poised to leap by Toby Irvine.  Leopard Gecko

Some reptiles are better pets than others, particularly when it comes to snakes. Larger snakes require larger food and some children (or their parents) might be disturbed at the notion of feeding rodents to snakes, it should be noted that many will eat already dead animals, and such animals can be purchased frozen. Other concerns with reptiles include their special needs for heat and lighting. Of reptiles Anoles, Geckos, and Corn Snakes, are some of the best for children.  Many reptiles, such as Iguanas, grow to be quite large.


 Hamster anyone?? [Explore] by OMP Production.  Hamster

There are a couple of concerns with rodents that children and parents need to be aware of. They, and particularly their cages, have a smell. Some, such as untamed hamsters, can bite. Rodents should be taken out of their cages daily, or have a very large cage. However, most rodents are seen as cute, in the eyes of children who like to watch them. Also it may be noted that some rodents are nocturnal and will not be awake in the day. Some rodents must be kept alone or will kill their cage mates. Even dwarf hamsters (often marketed as pets that can live together) will often kill a cage mate if their cage is not large enough.


Budgie by itspaulkelly.

Birds are not always great for young children. One reason is that birds have dander which can cause allergies. They are also messy and some are loud. The larger birds can bite hard. Finches or Canaries, being smaller and not as loud, might be suitable for some children, but are not suitable to be held. One thing to be aware of with birds is they often leave their seed husks in their food dish so it may look like they have lots of food when all they have is empty husks. Another consideration with birds is space.  Many cages are tall, and do not allow the bird flight room, this is cruel as birds were made for flight.  Birds do not do well when left alone for long periods of time. Budgies are probably one of the best feathered pets for children, or even chickens.

Other Critters

hermit crab "hermit crab"  "hermit crabs" coenobita crabstreet lilcrabbygal "hermit crab" nature crustacean pet hermies hermie by Vanessa Pike-Russell.  Hermit crab

Other pets worth consideration for classroom pets include insects, hermit crabs, and rabbits (not technically rodents). Ferrets are fairly demanding pets, requiring lots of time out of their cage.  Hedgehogs might keep children awake at night and are not overly cuddly.  Insects and hermit crabs having many advantages such as no smell or allergens. Additionally there are many unusual insects, such as walking sticks, that can help children overcome their (occasional) fear of bugs. These pets should be purchased, not captured wild, as this practice is illegal in some areas.



Parents need to be involved in overseeing all pet care. In fact no pets should be attained unless the parents are willing to be the care giver for the pet when their kids are away or if they tire of the animal. It is not fair to any pet to get rid of it because of lack of interest, after all a child is not old enough to buy a pet, therefore really it is the adult who is the owner. Veterinary care must also be given and paid for by the adult when needed.

When selecting any pet, it is always better to buy from a breeder rather than a pet store.  Pet stores get animals from mass breeders so the animals are typically not use to being handled.  Some animal shelters will have small pets for adoption and this is often a good option because they may come with a free cage and supplies.

Click this link on How to Convince your Parents to get you a Pet.

More Information on some of the Above Pets

Betta Fish Facts

Leaf Frogs as Pets

Anole Lizards as Pets

Hamster vs Guinea Pig

Chickens as Pets

Walking Insects as Pets

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User Comments
  1. Jenny Heart

    On January 27, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Very interesting and informative.

  2. ken bultman

    On January 27, 2010 at 9:28 am

    When I was a kid ant farms were all the rage. I don’t know if ants are pets but they were sort of educational.

  3. BradONeill

    On January 27, 2010 at 10:26 am

    great write B. very important information for those seeking pets. I think I am going to get my girl a fish and cross my fingers that it will do the trick.

  4. moneynwealth

    On January 27, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I will go for a fish or a bird!

    great day! @ money and wealth strategy

  5. Sourav

    On January 27, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Good information. Well written.

  6. Bailey Thompson

    On January 27, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Great article – very informative!!

  7. Ruby Hawk

    On January 27, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    I like your choices, My granddaughter has a turtle and oodles of cats.

  8. Inna Tysoe

    On January 27, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Good one.

  9. papaleng

    On January 28, 2010 at 3:13 am

    good post. BTW what would you recommend as pet for my 2-year-old grandson?

  10. qasimdharamsy

    On January 28, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Nice piece….

  11. AlmaG

    On January 28, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    When I was a a little girl I kept a gold fish as a pet. This is very interesting and an enjoyable read :)

  12. Daisy Peasblossom

    On January 31, 2010 at 3:48 am

    Good point on the pet care. Children have short attention spans, and tend to forget about watering and feeding. Animals should not have to suffer just because kids are kids.

  13. PR Mace

    On February 3, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Another good article. Parents should only allow their children to have animals that the parents have the proper time to care for because you know it will be the parents. Our two dogs we have where our daughters dogs. As you can see she grew up and left home and Kole and Katie are our babies now. Not that I mind in the least, I love these guys so much.

  14. AlmaG

    On February 3, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Revisiting and still loving this post! :)

  15. clickmarbin

    On February 12, 2010 at 1:50 am

    nice work

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