We keep pets for many reasons. Some people keep pets for protection, some because they are beautiful to look at, and others because they love how a pet purrs or cuddles up next to them. If you ask anthrozoologist John Bradshaw, he’ll tell you it’s because pet-keeping is an innate part of human nature rooted deeply in human evolution. Whatever the reason why some animals are more well-suited to being family pets than others. We will cover ten of the best family-friendly pets to help you decide whether you’re buying some top-notch dog grooming products or a terrarium and heat lamp on your next pet store visit.
Counting Down to Number One
Chickens as pets are on the rise in America, with 1.1 percent of all U.S. households now claiming poultry as pets. If you have enough property for a proper coop, they can be very social birds and are generally good with people. Chickens need food, water, shelter from predators, room for laying their eggs, and regular coop cleaning. They make great family pets because kids will love collecting eggs, and chickens can provide an excellent learning opportunity for children, particularly for animal husbandry (keeping animals).
Rabbits make great indoor pets for families and, surprisingly, aren’t difficult to care for at all, provided you handle them from a young age and socialize them properly. Some can be litter trained, meaning you can even let them free-roam indoors. Just mind any wires, as they may nibble. Rabbits will probably never win any awards for being affectionate.
Still, they are pleased to sit next to you or hang out in a comfy space and be petted and groomed.
7) Leopard Geckos
If you’re looking for a reptile friend, then a leopard gecko might be the right choice for your family. These fascinating creatures don’t require much attention but can be handled and even trained to follow light sources. Their enclosures are usually pretty easy to clean and maintain. It’s simple to provide excellent habitats for them while also blending in well with any home décor you may have going on. They will need a heating pad under their tank, and it’s advised to get a special UVB bulb to enhance their immune system, health, and wellness.
6) Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are great pets if you want to teach your children responsibility and how to care for another living thing that needs them. Just be prepared to pick up the slack so they never suffer. They’re very social and love playing with toys and each other, as well as their humans. As long as they have good-quality food and a large, clean enclosure, they’re pretty content living indoors as a family pet.
5) Crested Geckos
Another entry from the world of geckos, cresties are the kind that can climb up glass, making them a very different pet from leopard geckos. Also, while leos come from a sandy and desert-like environment, a crested gecko tank will do better with lots of foliage and regular misting. They’re nocturnal and love spending their daytime hours napping under a branch covered by a plant leaf. When handled regularly, they become pretty tame. But, like with most reptiles, they’re best suited for older children.
4) Tropical Fish
Oh, the possibilities! Setting up a fish tank can feel a little expensive, but what pet isn’t? The great part about tropical fish is the sheer variety available at your local pet store. An excellent way to decide which you’ll get is to pick your tank size first and then select fish who can live comfortably inside. Believe it or not, some of those little half-inch fish in the shop can grow to be a foot long. The added bonus of a fish tank for kids is it makes for great science and circle of life moments, as fish may breed and pass away.
Did you just spit out your coffee in surprise? Did your eyes just pop out of your head? Are you asking yourself, “Don’t they mean hamster?” No, you don’t need to adjust your screen. We certainly put rats as the third-place family pet for a good reason. Rats are small animals, but they are highly intelligent and can easily be trained. In addition, they love being around humans and will happily make every family member a part of their rat pack. They’re much better pets than hamsters or mice, but only if your family has the time to devote to playing with them each and every day.
In general, cats are pretty low maintenance. As long as there’s food, water, and a clean litter box to use, they’ll be alright. And they make great family pets because they love to play and demand your attention and affection at their own discretion. So if you’re looking for a pet that will greet you at the door, snuggle up on your lap as soon as possible, and spend all day playing with you inside and out, a cat might be the best choice for you.
There is no better family pet than a dog, and over 48 million American households would agree. Dogs are social animals that thrive on human companionship and reflect the love you give them a hundredfold. This doesn’t mean you should go out and get any old mutt, though. There’s a wide variety of breeds with different traits to choose from. This makes it easier for prospective pet owners to narrow down which type of dog would be best suited to their families’ lifestyles, although adopting from a shelter or rescue is always a kind choice and there are rescues that specialize in certain breeds.
Final Words of Advice
Never get a pet “for your kids” that you’re not prepared to take care of yourself. This is especially true if you’re not comfortable with the idea of dealing with that kind of animal. Whether it’s a special bath to provide allergy relief for dogs or picking up superworms and dropping them into a gecko tank, you need to be ready to take over the care when your child is at a sleepover or camp or off to college if you take in a long-lived animal. The bottom line is if you’re into it and excited about it, you’ll be able to keep the whole family involved. And that’s a big win, especially for your pet.