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At what age is it ok for child to get a pet of their own?

my son who is 6 has been begging us to get him a goldfish and my DH told him when he was 10 he could get one. But i fear that while that is a good age and all he would get bored with the fish after a while b/c there is not much you can do with a fish. So i was pondering getting him a hamster or guinea pig now that he could keep in his room and actually play with. Any thoughts?


Asked by amberpaiz at 4:44 PM on Apr. 5, 2011 in Pets

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Answers (12)
  • i think 6 is fine but just remember it will end up being your pet =) i would go with something low maintenance still like a fish or hamster. it would be good for him to have a little responsibility and learn how to take care of a pet.

    Answer by tnm786 at 4:46 PM on Apr. 5, 2011

  • JMO. Pets and kids do not mix well

    Answer by louise2 at 4:46 PM on Apr. 5, 2011

  • I've had lots of small pets over the years. I don't think that six is too young to help a parent to love and care for a pet. I do think that six is too young to have sole responsibility for a pet or for a child to handle at will without supervision. My recommendation would be to research different animals and get one that appeals to you as well. Although your child can be your helper, ultimately it's going to be the grownups who have to make sure that the pet's needs are met, so make sure it's an animal whose needs you are willing and able to meet! I would also really recommend not keeping a pet in the child's room for two reasons. First, if it's in a common area, the animal will be more accustomed to people coming and going and less spooked by the family's actions. Secondly, it will let you keep an eye on the animal for health and maintenance issues. And third, it makes sure your child is supervised handling the pet.

    Answer by Freela at 10:15 PM on Apr. 5, 2011

  • i totally planned on it being "my pet" too i just thought it would be neat for him to keep it in his room and have something specail all to himself

    Comment by amberpaiz (original poster) at 4:48 PM on Apr. 5, 2011

  • I had my own horse that I took care of on my own (with obvious help and supervision) when I was 4 and I think it gave be a lot of responsibility. If I can say one thing for myself as an adult it is that I am responsible if nothing else. Pets are wonderful for teaching kids about responsibility.

    Answer by 08MrsAllen at 9:09 PM on Apr. 5, 2011

  • thanks for the info it really helps im not gonna go right out and buy him one i still want to mull it over but it makes me feel better to think that he's not too young for it i was really on the fence about it

    Comment by amberpaiz (original poster) at 9:14 PM on Apr. 5, 2011

  • thats very true i guess i just thought that it would help keep the other kids from taking over his pet i never thought of that!! thanks

    Comment by amberpaiz (original poster) at 10:17 PM on Apr. 5, 2011

  • Con't. It's really easy for kids to unknowingly hurt small animals through rough handling or dropping. So it's best if play/cuddle time with kids is supervised and that the pet is in a convenient location for that.

    I have three kids (8, 6, and 4) and we have two guinea pigs. They're my pets as well as the kids... they have a cage in the family room. The kids interact with them on a daily basis and top up food and water and treats. I clean the cage and make sure they get time to run around every day, cuddle time every day if the kids are busy, and do the cage cleaning. The kids handle them with supervision. They are very docile and sweet creatures- they like pats and lap time. They're social animals, so I would recommend getting two of the same sex... most of the 'play' aspect comes from watching them interact with each other, since they don't 'play' with people the way a dog or cat might. HTH!

    Answer by Freela at 10:20 PM on Apr. 5, 2011

  • you rockyes that helps a lot thank you for all the great input!!


    Comment by amberpaiz (original poster) at 10:24 PM on Apr. 5, 2011

  • Age 6 is great for a fish.

    Age 8 or 9 is a great age for something bigger like a guinea pig.

    Having a pet of their own is something really special and they do better with the responsibility and appreciation of the pet after age 8 in my opinion.

    Answer by spottedpony at 12:47 AM on Apr. 6, 2011