Choosing the right pet for young families!

Written by Eve Bandusena | Parents Avenue’s Editorial Assistant 

Inarguably, there’s going to be an age where children will start begging for a pet, whether it’s a dog, a bird or even a pony. As parents, there’s a lot to consider and choosing a suitable pet should be a family decision.

It can be somewhat of a tricky footing to balance a child’s full understanding and execution of responsibilities while being appreciative and considerate of their parent’s efforts in maintaining and financially supporting their children’s pets.

A bunch of things that should come into consideration in selecting the right pet should be lifestyle, type of housing, finances and of course the health of your children, this includes if they have any history of allergies and asthma.

To put these words into action, we’ve partnered up with Harvest Fish and Pet to consider which pet is best for you and your family.

Selecting the perfect pet for the family

Parents Avenue has teamed up with Harvest Fish and Pet’s expert to give us some tips on which animal is suitable for your young child and you.

Image Source: Freepik

#1 Why is it suitable?

They’re easy to take care of, the cost of maintaining them is cheap and they’re a friendly animal that’ll be a good match for young children. A quick note too, if your child is more gentle, quiet and calm in nature then chances of building a relationship with the rabbit is higher as rabbits are quiet and peaceful animals that panic easily. 

#2 Age range?

6 years old and above.

#3 Temperament?

Rabbits have different personalities; they range from being sociable to passive. Mostly, they eat, sleep and need their exercise from time to time. This is also dependent based on their environment. Like most animals, rabbits do tend to scratch when they feel threatened, but this shouldn’t be a problem once they’re used to their owner.

#4 Method of care?

They’re a little bit tricky. Rabbits don’t take baths so you have to wipe them with a wet cloth or get them water sprays that are specifically for rabbits. Another matter to look into is the grooming, different rabbits have their lengths of fur which is long and short. Regardless, the rabbits will grow out their fur so bringing them to a pet shop is a must. A list of things to do when grooming rabbits are trimming their fur, nails and wash their ear canals.

Image Source: Freepik
Guinea Pigs

#1 Why is it suitable?

Guinea pigs are similar to rabbits. They’re friendly and fluffy. It’s also a matter of a child’s attitude towards it. When they’ve adapted to their environment and grown comfortable with their owners, they’ll enjoy being petted. Generally, they’re a great little pet to look after.

#2 Age range

 6 years and above.

#3 Temperament

Guinea pigs are very sociable animals, they love attention and affection. They don’t bite or scratch as long as they’re held properly, they’ll stay in the palm of your hand. It’s important to give them their space from time to time as they love exploring their grounds.

#3 Method of care?

They’re similar to rabbits. You only have to groom them, trim their nails, spray them with water. They can’t take excessive baths otherwise they’ll get sick. Unlike, dogs and cats, guinea pigs only eat specific food so, you think have to think a lot about what to feed them. You can buy a specific seed that they eat and that’ll be enough for their diet. 

Image Source: National Geographic Kids

#1 Why is it suitable?

They’re relatively easy to care for. The cost of maintaining them is inexpensive as they need a few necessities including love, care and attention from their owners. They’re fun to watch and are loving and rewarding animals to raise. 

#2 Age range?

7 years and above.

#3 Temperament

Hamsters require extra attention and are a little bit more sensitive than the other pets mentioned above. They’re easily stressed when their often disturbed, when they’re cage is too small and also when they’re too many hamsters in a single cage. So, a larger cage is a must. Be a little wary because hamsters do have a tendency to bite and it will feel like a sting and they’re nocturnal animals. 

#4 Method of care?

They’re simpler than a guinea pig. First, for feeding, all you have to do is provide enough water and food. Additionally, you can provide a hamster litter box, they’ll know by nature where to go. You don’t have to worry whether or not they clean themselves as hamsters tend to be very spotless animals. 

Image Source: One Green Planet
Sugar glider

#1 Why is it suitable?

They’re small, cute. Sugar gliders are rare pets to keep, so having one can be an educational experience in itself. They can fly from one place from another, so it’ll be an exciting sight for the entire family. 

#2 Age range?

9 and above.

#3 Temperament

First of all, they’re endearing and affectionate. They tend to bite if they feel threatened but when you finally tame them, they’ll take a liking towards you. They’ll rest on your shoulder, run around your neck, and they’re lovely animals. 

#4 Method of care?

They’re more like rabbits, to be honest. You have to take care of their bedding. Sugar gliders don’t bathe, so basically, you just have to wipe them. They need a specific type of food unlike the other three specifically their pellets. They eat vegetables and fruits as well such as apples. They need big cages with branches in them so they can glide from one place to another and exercise.

The many benefits of having a pet as a family

According to Huffington post, here are the many advantages of having a pet as a family member!


  • Pets give unconditional love. They are non-judgmental, and, especially for only children, lonely children, or children who have sibling rivalry or emotional distress, a pet gives them someone to talk to. A pet can comfort, give support, and listen to a child’s troubles without judgment or consequence. And, when playing, a pet can become your child’s partner and best buddy.


  • 2. A pet can teach a child that he doesn’t have to take out his anger or fear on others. Some children become bullies and if they don’t have a safe place to share their truest emotions, they may project those emotions onto other children. Because a pet will love your child no matter what he says, a pet gives him a confidant, a safe place in which to verbally pour out his fears and his anger.


  • A pet can teach empathy. Caring for a pet that is so dependent on you teaches empathy. Your child learns to read your pet’s needs: is he hungry? Does he need to go outside? Maybe the pet is scared of the wind, rain or snow and needs to be comforted. Moreover, empathy is the one skill that can be taught and a skill that bullies often lack.


  • A pet can teach confidence and responsibility. Children can gain confidence by having the responsibility of caring for a pet. Children as young as three years old can manage simple tasks such as filling the pet’s water and food bowls. As your child gets older, he can groom and walk the pet.


  • Animals can help socialize children and increase verbal skills. You’ve likely seen even little kids who are still learning to talk attempting to chatter away with pets. In this way, pets give not only social and emotional support but also cognitive language skill support to children. A pet’s simple presence provides verbal stimulus to help your child practice talking and socializing with another being.


  • Pets (and animals in general) can be very therapeutic for children. Studies have shown how pets can help lower blood pressure, speed up recovery time, and reduce stress and anxiety. We see this with troubled children and Autistic children, and, as my horse whisperer friend has, with children who experience PTSD: when they are with animals they can immediately relate because they sense the animals are unconditional in their love and affection.


For more information, you may contact Harvest Fish and Pet at 014-699 9671 or find them on Facebook via @harvestfishandpet. To visit Harvest Fish and Pet in person, they’re located at Wisma Harvest Fish, Penampang New Township, Jalan Penampang, 89500 Penampang, Sabah

*Disclaimer: Tortoises are not available for purchase.

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