As a youngster I grew up around only three pets.
The first was the baby chicken I won at a neighborhood fair and bonded with like a loving big sister. But after a month with this pet, I suffered childhood trauma when I came home from kindergarten one afternoon and learned that some stray cat had eaten my little bitty yellow playmate.
Next was my grandparents’ dog Wimpy. All I remember was that he was a light fluffy brown thing, stayed in the house most of the time, didn’t move very fast and was really old.
Woody, on the other hand, was my little English Beagle. We kept him in the back yard, but our neighbors kept complaining about his loud crying at night. You see, the Beagle does not have a normal sounding bark, but rather a howling that sounds like an old country western singer sobbing over his lost love.
Either way, the folks on our block were having none of it, so I had to give Woody away and that ended my experience with animals.
But I understand how a pet teaches a child responsibility and lots of little kids (and you parents) want to have them around. However, some parents may not want to bring a dog or cat home for their 3 year old.
So, what is another pet you can get your child that won’t put a big load of pressure on you? I decided to ask people about different small creatures for young children and I was encouraged to check out guinea pigs and hamsters along with fancy rats.
Yes, I said rats.
According to my friend Estella, regardless of what you may be thinking, they make great pets. She claims they are docile, social, and just plain sweet. “Rats are intelligent,” she said trying to convince me. “We had one that actually knew his name and would come when you called him! “
Estella went so far as to tell me that she had taught her rats to do tricks. “I used a Cheerio tied to a string to teach them to roll over. You gotta love ‘em!” she smiled as I LOL’d in her face.
When I finally sobered up I tried to be very polite and instead of telling her I thought she was absolutely wacko, I just explained that Mickey Mouse would be the only member of the rat family I would ever consider as a pet.
But you or your child at some point may be interested in rats, mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, birds, snakes or fish which all require small animal care. So whatever pet you are thinking about getting for your child, I strongly recommend that you do plenty of research first. Maybe even buy a book.
It is not something to be taken lightly. Don’t buy a pet solely for a child, because you can’t just leave a young child in complete control. You will have to remind your kid to clean the cage or feed the pet and it will ultimately be the responsibility of the whole family to care for it adequately.
Personally, I suggest getting a gold fish, but you may want to think about the fun you could have entertaining friends and family with your trained pet rat. Having a pet rat would certainly make for a great conversation starter!