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Pets are great for kids! They provide companionship, love, and a great opportunity for kids to learn about responsibility. But not every kid is ready for a dog or cat right away. Here are some good starter pets for your kids:

  1. Hermit Crab: Hermit crabs require little maintenance but still give some sense of responsibility.  They need shelter, food, water, and misting a couple times a day, and that’s it. You can pretty much let them be, while still giving your child the sense of ownership and accountability.

  2. Gerbils: Gerbils require more responsibility than hermit crabs, but still have less commitment than a dog or a cat. Your child will have to feed the gerbil, but won’t have to take care of walking it or other responsibilities that come with cats and dogs. The confines of the cage will teach them about clean up though! Be sure to purchase a “pen” for the gerbil’s playtime outside the cage–you will avoid the search party with this nifty pet accessory.

  3. Fish: Fish are good because they are extremely low key. Just feed them and clean the bowl, and that’s all that they really need. Still teaches responsibility, but in the minimalist way.

  4. Birds: Birds are another nice starter pet as the maintenance is not a huge time commitment. They still need food and water and a clean environment, but you don’t have to worry about the exercise factor.

What was your first starter pet as a child? What has worked with your kids? Do your children help take care of the family pet responsibilities? We’d love to hear from you!