10 Best Low Maintenance Pets For Kids
Are your kids harassing you to get a pet? But you are just not sure which one to get them? You want them to be happy but you don’t want to be stuck having to take care of the pet, a pet you bought for them. The good news is that you have a lot of options. There are your usual suspects like dogs and cats. Maybe you’ve even considered a hamster or a parrot. The bad news is that most pet choices do require quite a bit of care. This, considering a child’s interest span, means that you will have to do all the work. That is why we present to you a list of the best low maintenance pets for kids.
Full disclosure – We’ve noticed that many websites are recommending pets for kids that are not really suitable for younger kids. Pets like hamsters, some rabbit species, snakes, pocket pets like hedgehogs, rats, and chinchillas are not really easy to care for or handle. They may be alright for teens but definitely not kids under 10. Consequently, we’ve made a conscious decision not include them in our list of low maintenance pets for kids.
Low Maintenance Pets For Kids
A few things have been considered before coming up with these best small pets for kids. We’ve asked ourselves, are these pets easy to take care of? Are they easy to feed? Will they set off allergies?
Then there is the matter of understanding how kids are. Some kids are gentler than others. Some kids are more loving than others. Then are kids who just want to watch the world burn.
After taking all of that into consideration, we’ve come up with what we think are good low maintenance pets for kids. These are the best pets for kids under 10. We don’t recommend getting a pet for a kid under 5 at all. Kids under 5 are too young and can’t be trusted with an animal’s safety. You would have to always supervise the two together on top of taking care of the pet, which would just add to the workload.
Turtles are easily one of the best pets for kids under 10. What makes them so great are that they are unconventional, very easy to care for and quite hardy too. Additionally, they have something going for them that other pets don’t. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – yes the cartoon which makes turtles all the more attractive to kids. Kids love their turtles.
Turtles are great first pets and they will teach your kids a lot about how to care for others’ needs. Turtles eat mainly vegetables like carrots and cucumbers. Box turtles will enjoy insects. You may have to step in to prepare the meals for the turtles, but your children will have no problem feeding them.
Another thing going for turtles is that they make the best pets for kids with allergies. They are generally quite clean but it is always best to teach your children to wash their hands after handling them. Plus they live for a long time, so your children can look forward to having a companion to love for all of their childhood.
You didn’t see that one coming did you? Well, there is a reason we are going with chickens as a best pet for a child. The reason is that they are incredibly fun to raise and will actually give your whole family something to do together. They are quite easy to take care of too. Your kids will absolutely love picking eggs, feeding the chickens and just observing them as they go about chasing bugs in your yard.
You will need a big enough yard for a coop and space for the chickens to run around in. There are plenty of kid friendly chicken breeds out there. Something like the Buffs or Olive Eggers are quite docile and make good pets for kids. Your kids will have a lot of fun holding them and snuggling them under their chins. Mind you not all chicken breeds are kid friendly and some can be aggressive.
The best time to get a chicken would be when it is a newly hatched chick. That way you can teach your kids the right way to hold it and take care of it. By the time it grows older, the chicken will be used to your kids. And your kids should be well-trained to handle it.
Gerbils are easily one of the most low maintenance pets for kids. But they are not only low maintenance, they are incredibly friendly and will give your children something to do throughout the day. They are not be the hardiest of creatures, so your kids will have to be taught how to be gentle with them.
They don’t have a long lifespan with most gerbils living for 2-3 years. For kids under 10, this could be a blessing in disguise as their priorities tend to shift as they grow older. You will have to give your pet gerbil a good sized-cage with proper bedding and an exercise wheel. Humidity is an issue, so make sure you maintain optimum humidity levels. If the humidity is too high, your gerbil might develop breathing issues.
Food for gerbils is easily available commercially. They will eat commercially available pellets similar to those that pet rats eat. They are not fussy eaters and your kids will have a lot of fun feeding the cute animals.
Gerbils make little noise, are quite clean and almost without any foul smell. They are often considered to be one of the best small pets for kids by experts because they are very active in their cages and will give your children a lot of action to observe and enjoy.
4. Brine Shrimp
As far as low maintenance pets for kids are concerned, brine shrimp are hands down one of the best pets for kids under 10. They could actually work for kids under 5 as well, and make great starter pets.
So what are brine shrimp exactly and why are they good for children? Also known as sea monkeys, brine shrimps are not to be confused with the shrimps you like to eat. They are two separate species altogether. Brine shrimp are crustaceans that are to be kept under water in an aquarium or bowl much like you would a fish. But what really makes them one of the better low maintenance pets for kids is the fact that require very little care in terms of feeding and general maintenance.
Available in kits, all you children have to do is add the contents of the kit in some water and observe. In time, tiny shrimp will start growing. Take it from us, your kids will be in complete awe as they watch these shrimps grow bigger and become more active by the day.
Brine shrimp need to be fed only once or twice a week, and their water will last for a long time. If you feel the water level is dipping due to evaporation or it’s getting dirty, add or replace more water. This is as low maintenance as it can get!
5. Ant Farms
Ant farms are a great learning experience for kids with just the right amount of maintenance required to keep the kids occupied without becoming overwhelming. Although not pets in the traditional sense, ants are surely great low maintenance pets for kids.
One of the things that stand out with having ant farm is that they can be very educational. Your children will learn a great deal about how nature works, how ants work night and day to survive, how they help each other and build colonies and even how they deal with the dead.
Traditional ant farms are basically flat enclosures with glass or plastic walls containing sand. Ants colonize the sand, while your children can observe how they are doing from either side of the walls. Nowadays 3D options are also available.
You will have to buy an ant farm setup separately from the ants. Get the Western Harvester ants as they are the best pets for kids under 10. The ant farm is easy to install but you may have to help. Once the ants and the sand are in, you can lay down some basic rules and your children should be able to do the rest.
Ants will eat small morsels of food fed to them every 2-3 days. They will eat anything, so fruits or veggies do nicely. Some sugar would be great too. A few drops of water every day should be enough to meet their water requirement. Other than that, nothing much else. Pretty low maintenance isn’t it?
6. Stick Insects
Stick insects make great pets for young kids because all they need is a small enclosure with some privet, bramble or rose leaves to feed on, and they will live happily.
There are many different species of stick insects. Some large, some small, each requiring different levels of care. Some of the larger and more exotic species can also be aggressive and bite. So they aren’t quite suitable for children. The Indian and Pink Winged stick insects are what you want and are quite low maintenance pets for kids.
The thing about the Indian and Pink Winged stick insects are that they are all female and capable of reproducing on their own. So if they are well fed, and have enough space, you will pretty soon end up with baby stick insects running around in the tank.
As far as the space requirements are concerned, aim for a tank that is 3 times bigger in height as well as width than the insect. If there are more than one insect, make the tank wider. The tanks don’t need any additions. Some soil will do as substrate. Remember that stick insects shed their skin as they grow and require a place to hang from while shedding. Give them a roof made of netting for this.
Not only are stick insects incredibly low maintenance but they are also great for kids with allergies.
7. Bearded Dragon
Most reptiles don’t really make good pets for children. The bearded dragon is an exception though. They are very docile, like to laze around and require very little in terms of upkeep. Baby bearded dragon care may be something a little too much for children, so getting an adult or juvenile dragon older than a 1 year would be the right call.
Since bearded dragons are primarily animals of the desert, they do require specific living conditions. A glass or rubber vivarium will do perfectly well. You will have to make sure that humidity and temperature is monitored.
Bearded dragons eat live insects and vegetables. Baby dragons eat more insects than plants, but an adult will eat both in equal proportions, maybe even more vegetables than insects. You can easily get live insects from your nearest pet supply. And since they eat only 3-4 times in a week, they are pretty low maintenance pets for kids.
8. Leopard Gecko
Another lizard that is one of the best small pets for kids under 10 is the Leopard Gecko. These amazing creatures are very friendly and docile, not at all dangerous and good for kids with allergies.
Leopard geckos are quite small. Babies measure around 2-4 inches, while adults can reach up to 7-10 inches. They have a good lifespan, living for over 10 years and in some cases even over 20. They are as low maintenance as they come, and great for children.
While we wouldn’t say that getting a baby gecko is not advisable, it would be best not to get a hatchling either. Babies are a little delicate and too much handling could kill them. Slightly older leopard geckos are very hardy and will love to explore your kids’ hands as they are held.
You will need to give you leopard gecko a medium-sized cage. Big enough to move around in, with a few hide spots. But nothing too big. They need a heating spot too. As far as substrate goes, you can go with anything or nothing.
Leopard gecko eat live insects and no greens or veggies. They eat only once in two days, sometimes three, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Crickets and food for geckos are available commercially.
9. Hermit Crabs
We have had hermit crabs for ages, and we can say with complete confidence that they are definitely one of the best low maintenance pets for kids. They are not the most social, in fact are the opposite of that, but their activity within their tanks will keep you children occupied and interested for a long time.
Some people recommend keeping hermit crabs alone by themselves, but we’ve always felt that they do well when they have company. Aim for 3-4 hermit crabs in one 10-15 gallon tank. Give them some sand to dig around in and they will be fine. They live for 25-30 years so be prepared to have them for the long haul. Your kids will have a lot of fun watching these creatures burying in the sand and doing all sorts of weird stuff.
Hermit crabs are also one of the best pets for kids with allergies. They scare easy and shouldn’t be removed from their tanks. They eat very little and can go without food for long periods. Your children will have no problem caring for them.
10. Small Birds
Let us start by saying that not all kinds of birds are good for children. Some are quite loud and messy, so might be too much for your children to handle. On the other hand, birds are colorful, active and can have sweet singing voices. That’s a pretty good deal for any child!
You will have to put in some research to see which bird would be best for your kid. They range wildly in terms of personality and upkeep required, so do some homework.
Small birds like cockatiels, finches, canaries and parakeets are easily the best small pets for kids. Since they usually stay in the their cages, there is no risk of harming them due to improper handling. Also they can’t cause much havoc. These birds are not for handling or petting.
There are birds that can be taken out of their cages and are more sociable. But they don’t make good pets for kids under 10, because kids that age are just not gentle enough yet.
BONUS – Betta Fish
Fish have long been thought of as the best pet for a child and for good reason too. They are easy pets to take care of, and can be incredibly entertaining swimming around in their tanks flashing their brilliant colors all the while.
Having said this, most of you probably think of Goldfish as the best small pets for kids. You wouldn’t be wrong and they do make great pets for kids. But there is another fish, which is actually much easier to maintain. These fish don’t quite live as long as goldfish but are less prone to getting sick and dying. They just have smaller lifespans. We are talking about the Betta fish.
Betta fish can live in the simplest of fish bowls without any added features. They have a natural lifespan of 3-5 years, by which time your child should be ready to move on. You will have to replace the water at regular intervals but that should be more than enough to keep them healthy. Food is easily available and not a problem. As far as low maintenance pets for kids go, Betta fish are right up there with the best.