Taking care of a pet can benefit people of all ages. When you entrust a toddler with a pet, it teaches them responsibility, time management, compassion, and much more from a very early age. To avoid discouragement and heartbreak during your toddler’s pet-keeping experience, it’s vital to choose a pet that will be easy to care for. Here are a few ideas for beginner pets to give to your toddler.

Turtle

Although turtles aren’t the most cuddly creatures on the planet, they don’t require a lot of complicated care. As long as you give the turtle a nice tank to live in, they can fend for themselves with minimal interaction. Plus, the natural curiosity of a turtle will delight your toddler when the turtle follows their finger back and forth. One important risk to watch out for with turtles is Salmonella. When your toddler handles their put turtle, make sure they immediately wash their hands before touching anything else.

Hamster

It’s hard to beat the bright eyes and puffy cheeks of a hamster when it comes to cute animals. Hamsters make perfect first pets because they don’t eat or drink very much, meaning that a once-a-day care regimen is more than sufficient. Plus, they produce minimal waste, meaning that you don’t have to perform full cage cleanings all that often. When handled properly from an early age, hamsters can be quite sociable, allowing your toddler to snuggle with them and teach them tricks. If they’re not properly socialized, however, a hamster’s sharp teeth can produce a painful bite.

Fish

Fish are a popular first pet for many children because they are inexpensive, calming, and easy to care for. When caring for fish, water chemistry is the most important consideration. It’s vital to run your tank for at least a few days before adding fish to help establish the nitrogen cycle. This cycle helps remove harmful substances from the water so that the fish can thrive. Another great perk of owning fish is that you can get a small tank with nano fish so that the entire setup doesn’t take up much space in your toddler’s room.

Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are largely independent creatures, meaning their care requirements are easily achievable for a toddler. Although you can’t cuddle a hermit crab because of their large pincher claw, you can watch their fascinating behaviors and imagine that you’re on a beach somewhere. Hermit crabs are extremely clean animals, so you and your toddler won’t have to clean the cage constantly. They also only eat a minimal amount of food because they are cold-blooded. The most fascinating part of owning hermit crabs is watching them when they move from one shell to another as their bodies grow.

Guinea Pig

If you’re looking for a loving, sociable pet, a guinea pig should be at the top of your list. Guinea pigs that are properly handled love to be cuddled by their owners. If possible, you’ll want to buy or adopt a pair of guinea pigs because they are naturally social creatures. Additionally, make sure to give your pigs a large cage with plenty of space to roam around. Another key to proper guinea pig care is regular nail trimming. In captivity, a guinea pig’s nails can grow so long as to cause issues with mobility. The trimming process is something that a grown-up will definitely need to do to avoid injuring the guinea pig.

Ants

Perhaps the most low-maintenance first pet around, ants are fascinating and intelligent creatures that have been delighting toddlers for decades. If you choose an art farm with sand, be sure that the sand stays moist so that the tunnels the ants build don’t collapse. Additionally, make sure to remove any uneaten food quickly before it has a chance to mold. For the most simple pet-keeping experience, you can choose an ant farm that uses a gel-type material for ant tunneling. The great thing about this material is that it doubles as food for the ants, meaning you don’t have to worry about moldy food in the enclosure.

Make the Commitment

No matter which type of pet you choose for your toddler, make sure that you are prepared to commit to caring for the pet long-term. Even if your toddler loses interest in the pet, it’s important to still care for the pet to give it a happy life. If you and your toddler are ready to make that commitment, then it’s time to start shopping for their first pet.

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