There is nothing quite like owning a pet as a kid. It teaches responsibility, but also love and care. It gives your child an animal to bond with, which will ultimately become one of their best friends. However, kids aren’t the most responsible and may forget their duties with a high-maintenance pet. Plus, kids these days have jam-packed schedules that make it challenging to spend a lot of time caring for pets that need a lot of maintenance. Does that mean that your kid can’t have a pet? Not at all! Below, we’ll run through the top 10 low-maintenance pets for kids and why they made our list.
Ok, so dogs are definitely not as low-maintenance as most of the other pets coming up on our list, but they make amazing companions for a kid of almost any age. Plus, when you get a dog from a shelter or from a pet-related agency rather than a breeder or the pet store, it’s easy to find one that is already house trained, which spares you one of the most challenging parts of dog ownership. Dogs come in a wide range of breeds, sizes, temperaments, and activity levels, too, so you will be able to find the perfect companion for your kid.
Rats get a bad rap. They’re actually highly intelligent, very social, and loving animals. If your child’s time with the rat is limited, it’s recommended that you buy them in pairs, as they do need interaction to be healthy and happy. Otherwise, they require most of the same equipment as other rodents.
Yes, snakes can be fear-inducing. They can also be great pets. For kids, non-venomous snakes are best, and you will find many different species available. Snakes need a habitat that’s large enough for them, a little water, and very little food (usually freeze-dried mice, but the diet varies from species to species).
If your child has a thing for reptiles, then lizards might be great options as pets. You’ll find many different species out there, and some of them are quite decorative. They need no human contact, either. You will need a terrarium or aquarium of the right size, as well as things like branches for them to sun themselves on, food and water, and a UV light that mimics the sun’s rays.
6. Guinea Pigs
Another rodent on our list, the guinea pig requires little in the way of maintenance, plus they are super fluffy and adorable. They also make noises and will chatter at their owners. Note that while these are low-maintenance pets, they do require some human contact in order to thrive, so your child will need to play with them regularly. Other than that, guinea pigs require only a cage, fresh straw, food, water, and something to play with. They can also live up to six years.
5. Hermit Crabs
Another pet that requires almost no care and very little space is the hermit crab. You can buy these at most pet stores, but avoid the ones with painted shells or ones that have had “decorations” glued to the shells, as this can harm the crabs and shorten their lifespan. You will need a 10-gallon aquarium for your hermit crab, a little food and water, and a few odds and ends to make a comfortable home. Note that chlorinated water can be deadly to hermit crabs, so use bottled water. They also need saltwater for bathing to stay hydrated.
4. Beta Fish
Perhaps the ultimate low-maintenance pet a kid could have is the beta fish, or Siamese fighting fish. Brightly colored and large-finned, these fish need almost nothing but food in order to survive. They are also solitary and should never be kept with other fish, meaning that they’re well-suited to bedrooms or homes where space is at a premium. In fact, you can keep a beta in a small bowl or aquarium designed to hold just a single fish. Note that only males are aggressive – female betas can be kept with other fish, allowing your child to expand their aquarium if they like.
Want a pet that’s low maintenance, but also colorful and interactive? A range of birds can work here. Their needs are minimal – a cage with enough room to flit about, water, food, and a perch or two. They don’t even need human interaction to thrive. Some birds are also smart enough that your child can teach them simple tricks or commands. Finches, canaries, cockatiels, and parakeets are all good examples of small birds that do well with minimal attention and care.
Like hamsters, mice are low-maintenance, affordable, and widely available. They do well on their own, but are better with at least one other mouse. Also like hamsters, they need very little in the way of equipment – a habitat, a way to get food and water, and something to exercise or play with are the necessities. The only thing your child will really need to do on a regular basis is provide food and water, clean out the feeder and waterer, and change the bedding material when it gets soiled. It’s as simple as that!
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance pet that’s about as cute as it gets, consider a hamster. These little balls of fluff are lots of fun, take up very little space, and need minimal maintenance to stay healthy and happy. You’ll need a cage, a feeder and waterer, and a piece of exercise equipment like a wheel at the very minimum, but you can go as big as your budget will allow, including full Habitrail setups! Hamsters do well on their own, but they thrive with a companion. They’re also relatively affordable and widely available in many different colorations.
With our list of the top 10 low-maintenance pets for kids, you’re sure to find the right option for your own household.