We all know pets are great for our kids. Pets teach all kinds of good things, like how to be caring and responsible.
But pets can become just one more thing for mum or dad to look after!
Some kids can even be allergic to pets with hair. Plus, there’s the whole picking up poo thing that comes when you have a furry friend in the family. So until the kids grow out of their allergies or grow big enough to tackle the poo pick-up themselves, here are some awesome first pets that are easy to look after.
7 Low Maintenance Pets for Kids that Won’t Take Over Your Life
1. Stick insects
Stick insects are great first pets because they’re interesting and easy to care for. You’ll need a terrarium or mesh enclosure to keep them in. Stick insects just need fresh gum leaves to eat, a daily mist of water from a spray bottle and their home cleaned when dirty.
Snails are super easy first pets and free if you find one wandering in your garden! You just need a large container with a lid and holes to let air in. Put some clean soil in the bottom and then a thin layer of natural material, like moss, peat or compost. Then all your snail needs is some fresh fruit or vegetable scraps daily and their home kept moist using a spray bottle. Give their container a clean when it gets dirty.
Making an ant farm is great fun. Find a jar or container and make small holes in the top to let air in but not so small the ants escape! Fill the jar with a mixture of two parts soil and one part sand. Find some ants outside and use a teaspoon to gently transfer them into your container. Ants are sugar addicts and just need a few drops of honey, jam or fresh fruit every few days. Cover the jar when you’re not watching your pets as ants prefer dark, cool places.
Goldfish are great first pets and with good reason! They are bright and colourful, fun to watch and easy to look after. You just need a bowl or tank, filter to keep the water clean and some fish food. Goldfish need part of their water changed each week and algae cleaned off the tank to keep them healthy. The RSPCA has great information about buying and caring for goldfish.
Worms are fun, wriggly pets and as an added bonus can help make great compost for your garden! You just need a large container in a cool place. Cover the bottom of the container with newspaper and leaves, and add about five centimetres of top soil. Use a breathable material like hessian to cover the soil to keeps your worms’ home cool, dark and moist. Worms eat most kitchen scraps, but don’t feed them dairy, meat, onions or citrus.
Silkworms are awesome first pets, especially for little lovers of The Very Hungry Caterpillar book! They help your child understand the lifecycle of moths and butterflies, from eggs to caterpillar to cocoon to moth. And they are easy to care for. All you need is a shoebox with small air holes in the lid and access to fresh mulberry leaves. You can also put some pieces of egg carton in the box for the caterpillars to spin their cocoons in. Once the moths hatch, they mate and lay eggs so you can have more little caterpillars.
7. Pet rocks
Ok so if all of the above still didn’t sound easy enough and your child really wants a pet, get out the art supplies and find some rocks. Pet rocks are fun to make and are cute to keep on bookshelves or bedside tables! Let the kids paint funny faces on their rocks and, best of all, pet rocks require no care at all!
But even if you don’t want to get a pooch of your own, it’s a good idea to make sure your kids know how to be safe around dogs. Here are some tips for introducing dogs and kids.