When Are Children Old Enough for a Pet Rabbit or Hamster?
Many children want nothing more than to have their own pet. For parents, the decision for or against the animal is a challenge. A pet costs time and money. However, the acquisition of an animal promises many advantages. Handling the animal teaches your child social skills in a fun way. Thus, it learns to care for the animal carefully and reliably and to provide for it according to its species and needs. The child understands that it has to respect the pet as a living being. It must show consideration for the little four-legged friend. Children who are shy and reserved quickly find in the new roommate a loyal friend who gives them joy and more self-confidence. Pets always have time and listen to all worries calmly and patiently.
In our guide we recommend at what age your child is suitable for which small animal. Not every animal is suitable for every child’s age.
Rabbits as pets for children
Not a cuddly animal Pinches also sometimes with the teeth Lifting rabbits is difficult Keeping with conspecifics and lots of exercise Average life expectancy: 8 to 10 years Pet for children from 10 years
Many children want a rabbit as a loyal playmate. Rabbits are fluffy, have spoon ears and a stubby tail. However, they are not cuddly animals and can sometimes nip with their teeth if something doesn’t suit them. It is difficult to pick up a rabbit. Inexperienced children should only lift rabbits with the help of an adult. The rabbit will make defensive movements if the grasp is improper. The child’s arms can be scratched by strong wriggling of the animal and rabbits can injure their spine. From the age of about ten years, children can independently take over the care of rabbits. For this, the child must have practiced lifting the animals with adults.
Once the children have chosen a rabbit, you must create a home for it that suits its species and needs. Note that the animal needs conspecifics and plenty of exercise to be happy. Rabbits can live up to ten years – some even older. During this long lifetime, it wants to be well cared for.
Guinea pigs for children from what age
No cuddly animal Keeping with conspecific and run Considered a "starter animal" for children Average life expectancy: 6 to 8 years Pet for children from 8 years
The same applies to the keeping of guinea pigs as to the keeping of rabbits. Guinea pigs do not want to be picked up and petted all the time. They resist and run away. In addition, guinea pigs should not be kept alone. At least a second conspecific should keep your animal company so that it does not feel lonely. Under supervision, children four years and older can pick up and pet guinea pigs. If your child wants to care for the guinea pig completely on their own and take on the responsibility, they should be about 8 years old.
Often guinea pigs are considered the perfect “starter” animals for children. However, children must carefully learn how to handle and care for the animals. Parents should also keep in mind when choosing the species guinea pig, that it can live up to eight years or even older.
Hamsters as pets for children
Completely unsuitable for children NEIGHBORING! Does not like to be petted Average life expectancy: 1 to 2 years Suitable for teenagers
Along with guinea pigs and rabbits, hamsters are mistakenly considered the ideal species for small children. However, the small rodent is nocturnal and therefore completely unsuitable for children who play during the day and go to bed early at night. Children find it difficult to leave the cute animals alone all day. When the animals are awakened during the day, they are stressed and sometimes bite.
The cute animals may become tame, but they don’t like to be petted and are out of the question as a cuddle partner for your child. In addition, the hamster makes noise at night in the wheel and when rooting in the cage and disturbs your child during his valuable sleep.
Hamsters are not suitable for children or teenagers until they are in their teens. From this age onwards, children or teenagers are sufficiently considerate of the animal’s sleeping rhythm. Adolescents also find it easier to say goodbye to their pet when it dies. Hamsters usually live only one to two years.
Budgies as pets for children
Not a cuddly pet Cannot be held in the hand Can become very tame Always keep with conspecifics Average life expectancy: 5 to 10 years Pet for children from 9 years
Budgies are not suitable as cuddly pets for children. The birds do not want to be taken in the hand or stroked. However, the animals become very tame if kept well and are happy when their owners spend a lot of time with them. Children love to play with the tame birds. For example, they can lure them onto their hand and feed them cob millet. However, they must be very careful, because the birds are very small and have a delicate physique. To care for a budgie, your child should already be 9 years old. At that age, your child understands that birds do not want to be picked up or petted, and they can responsibly care for their welfare.
Budgies live in flocks of several dozen birds in the wild. They should therefore never be kept alone in captivity. Also, when purchasing budgies, keep in mind that they can live up to ten years.
From the age of about four years, children can gradually be involved in the care of the animals. They help to feed the animals and clean the cage. How to clean the rabbit cage perfectly together with your child, for example, you can read in our guide “Cleaning the rabbit hutch properly“. With the support of their parents, small children are allowed to hold and pet the animals. As they get older, they can gradually care for the animals on their own. If an older child is given complete care of an animal and is not yet familiar with it, he or she must be thoroughly instructed in the care of the animal and how to handle it. Our age recommendations for children for the different types of animals do not vary much:
Rabbits: from 10 years Guinea pig: from 8 years Hamster: from teenage Budgerigar: from 9 years
Basically, a child should never have to take care of an animal completely alone – no matter how old they are. As an adult, you must always keep a watchful eye on the condition of the animal and its cage:
Is the animal healthy? Does it always have fresh water? Is the food sufficient and appropriate for the species? Is the cage clean? Is the animal busy?
If necessary, you must regularly remind your child of his or her duties so that the animal is always well cared for. The child must not only take care of the pet when he or she feels like it, but must make sure that the animal is well around the clock.
Before you get the pet, you need to consider how long you yourself want to commit to the animal. Are you willing to take care of the pet even after your daughter or son has moved out? You should therefore also consider the average life expectancy of the individual animal species as a guide for the decision.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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I have spent a lifetime learning about pets and animals, and have worked in the pet and vet industry for over 20 years now!
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