7 Great Little Pets For Your Kids

Are you lacking space for a large pet? Don’t fret. There are still several great little pets for your kids to adore. Check out our top picks for adorable, palm-sized fuzzy companions that are perfect for children.

It’s easy to think that cats and dogs are your only options for a family pet when you’re in the market for one. However, smaller pets can be just as cuddly, easier to care for, less attention-demanding, and potentially more inexpensive.

Jennifer Graham, DVM, associate professor of zoological companion animal health at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, Massachusetts, believes that for children over the age of five, small pets are a terrific option, and caring for them teaches youngsters responsibility.

If you’re wondering whether or not a little pet will be suitable for your kids, you should do as much research as you would if you were thinking about a larger animal. Even though some of the most common pets, like hamsters and guinea pigs, look identical, their needs and relationships with people are very different.

As you explore which tiny pet will best suit your family, consider these seven alternatives, some of which are more conventional than others. Regardless of who you let into your home, keep in mind that each has unique wants and qualities.


This traditional tiny pet is simple to care for and can be trained to use the litter. According to Katherine Quesenberry, DVM, chief medical officer at the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center in New York City, small breeds (and females in particular) can be very violent. This makes handling some hamsters more difficult than others. Dr. Graham suggests bringing home a larger breed, such as a Syrian hamster, which may adjust to your family’s care better.

A hamster should be housed in a spacious cage with tunnels and sleeping spots (make sure you can clean the cage easily). Consider how long your child will want to interact with one of these creatures, as they normally live for three years. Those years can feel interminable if they lose interest. They can also appear brief if the pet passes away.

Your child may learn something from experience, although it will be traumatic for him or her unless he or she has already experienced the loss of a loved one. “It can be depressing, but it’s also a chance to introduce the concept that everything dies,” Dr. Graham explains. You can be present when your child undergoes the experience.

Guinea Pigs

While guinea pigs and hamsters belong to the same rodent family, their personalities couldn’t be more different. These rodents are mild-mannered and possess a pleasant personality, making them less prone to bite.

As long as they are held properly, guinea pigs are docile pets who likely won’t mind interacting with even the youngest of children. However, if you are only seeking to add one new pet to your household, you may want to investigate alternative options; as social animals, guinea pigs thrive in couples or small groups.

These cuddly critters are perfect for a young child learning to care for a pet because they are less prone to become frustrated with a young owner. Compared to hamsters, guinea pigs have a lifespan of five to seven years and require more time and care. Their voracious appetite causes them to consume a great deal of hay and vegetables, making them dirtier than other tiny mammals; you may need to clean their cages more frequently.


Dr. Quesenberry explains, “Gerbils are simple to care for yet do not require much attention.” They are OK for children who do not wish to be so involved. In comparison to hamsters and guinea pigs, gerbils have a comparatively short lifespan of approximately two years. Gerbils have a conventional diet similar to that of rats and hamsters, consisting of rodent pellets, food blocks, and additional seed mixtures.

Gerbils are often not aggressive, so they can be held, although their speed makes it difficult to do so for an extended period of time. This swiftness indicates a great deal of action in the cage, which may pique your child’s curiosity. More so than other small mammals, gerbils are sensitive to changes in humidity, which can lead to breathing and hair problems. Consult a veterinarian if you are concerned that your atmosphere may be too humid for a gerbil.


A rat may not be the first small pet that comes to mind, but according to Dr. Graham, “they make some of the best pets for small children.” “Rats can be placid, laid-back, and less aggressive than other tiny mammals, and they can be handled frequently.”

Rats are interactive and capable of learning skills, such as retrieving objects and negotiating mazes and obstacles, making them ideal pets for children who wish to form a close relationship with a pet.

Since rats enjoy interacting with humans and objects, supplying them with a variety of toys and accessories, such as ropes and paper towel rolls, will keep them active and happy. In addition to being simple to care for, rats require a conventional rodent diet of food blocks. Rats, like gerbils, have a relatively limited lifespan of two to three years.


You may consider these popular tiny pets for children if there is extensive adult supervision. They must be handled carefully and receive the care they require. Similar to guinea pigs, rabbits are friendly, which can benefit younger children but can be quite frail.

While larger rabbit breeds may be exceptionally docile, Dr. Quesenberry suggests spaying or neutering all rabbits to prevent aggression (and to prevent uterine cancer in females). This is particularly important if you maintain multiple rabbits in the same place, which is ideal due to their social requirements.

Rabbits can live between eight and twelve years. They can be trained to use the litter box, but they are not the easiest tiny pet to care for. Rabbits demand a great deal of space and care. Dr. Quesenberry emphasizes the importance of green hay, fresh veggies, and rabbit pellets for their health and enjoyment.


Chinchillas are a more exotic option for children who would rather observe their pet than interact with it. Dr. Quesenberry explains that although chinchillas are friendly, they can be rather nimble and swift, so they may only be suitable for small children who are able to handle them securely. They must consume chinchilla pellets, hay, and vegetables as treats.

In contrast to other small pets, chinchillas require a dust bath as opposed to a water bath. You will need to purchase chinchilla dust (specially designed to resemble the dust in their native habitat) and set it in a sturdy bowl or dish with a deep well. Alternatively, a dust house can be purchased. Two to three times a week, a chinchilla should be given a dust bath outside of its cage; its cage should be multilevel so it can climb up and down.

Chinchillas have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years, which is significantly longer than that of guinea pigs and other rodents.


These scaly creatures may not make the ideal pets, but they are interesting to look at, friendly, and can survive for five to seven years. And if baby hedgehogs are handled, they will develop a social relationship with your youngster. The disadvantage is that you may end up spending more money on them.

Dr. Quesenberry states, “When compared to other small pets, hedgehogs have more unique needs and are more likely to experience health concerns.” They have a higher disease incidence and occasionally develop mouth cancer and have mites, so your veterinary costs may be a bit more.

Since hedgehogs are omnivores, they require a particular diet consisting of veggies and protein-rich food. Occasionally, cat food can meet the requirements, but you should see your veterinarian confirm. Check the laws of the place you live in before deciding to make a hedgehog your pet; in some states, it’s against the law to do so.

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