Now I have my own children and hope that they can grow up to be animal lovers like myself. My 8 year old daughter already has a huge appreciation for animals and has told me that she wants to be an animal doctor when she grows up.
|Shiner and Lily|
Of course, not all animals make suitable pets in my opinion. Especially for children. I've compiled a list of bad pets for kids based on my experiences handling them in a veterinary setting and otherwise. I am not saying that these animals make bad pets all the time, just that they probably aren't your best choice when choosing a pet for your children.
|Photo via GarrettTT|
Sugar gliders can bond with their owners and be very loyal pets. The reason I want to include them on my list of bad pets for kids is because they can and will bite when they feel threatened or scared. They need a very calm handler whom they can trust. Young children aren't always the calmest. Especially when it comes to handling small pets. I also put sugar gliders high on my "will bite" list, and their teeth are no joke. You can see a sugar glider in action here.
I bet you're surprised to hear that these are even kept as pets. Yes, they are and I've handled quite a few. They are also on my list for craziest animals to handle in a veterinary setting. I have met one prarie dog outside of the vet clinic though. It was pretty nice, but I still don't think they would make appropriate pets for children. Actually, I think they should be left to live in the wild but some pet stores have started selling them as pets.
Since this pet is pretty "exotic", that's another reason I don't think they would make good pets for kids. They require special care that most adults aren't even aware of. Without proper socialization they can become quite aggressive.
|Photo via petepictures|
Large to medium sized parrots such as African Greys, Amazons, Macaws, Cockatoos, and others would not be a very good choice as a pet for a kid. They require a lot of specialized care and interaction. I do think that with adult supervision, these types of birds could be fun for a child to interact with however. A child is probably not mature enough to care for one of these birds alone.
Some of these birds tend to bite people that they don't trust or like. This isn't true for every bird, of course. It just depends on the individual bird, but something to consider when choosing a pet for your child. Many large parrots can live to be well over 20 years old, a commitment that I don't believe many kids are responsible enough to make.
Certain Types of Reptiles
|Photo via joncalutan|
Reptiles require some pretty intense and specialized care that may not be suitable for children. Also, some can grow to be very large. Typically, the larger they are the more dangerous they can be. I wouldn't recommend iguanas for the size they grow to be. Iguanas can also be fairly aggressive. A bearded dragon would be a much better choice as a pet for children.
Large snakes are also not a good option due to their size and strength. Small snakes may be a better choice, but only with a lot of help from adults. Also, reptiles do carry salmonella so be sure to practice good hand washing and hygiene when handling them.
Remember that children under the age of 10 should not care for their pets alone and kids older than 10 still need supervision and help with pets. No pet is "easy" but there are plenty of animals out there that make great pets for kids. I will have to follow up with a list of good pets for kids another time.
Did you keep pets as a child? If so, which one was your favorite?