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What would be a suitable pet for you and your family?
Obviously not many people have the space or would want to take on a pet such as an Emu (emu shown on the right below was rescued and now lives happily in a back garden of a home in California), but it just goes to show that there is a range of animals and birds, large, small, common and exotic for you to choose from when your child first asks you if they can have a pet!
Warm blooded cuddly furry animals to cold blooded reptiles and fish. There is a large range of pets to choose from, and the decision that you make will be influenced by the money you want to pay and the time you have to spare to look after it. And we mean YOU, the parents, as for many children the novelty of a pet soon wears off.
When choosing a pet it is very important that it will fit in with the lifestyle of the whole family, that way, if the child gets bored, or proves unable to look after it on their own, it will not become one of the unwanted pets left at rescue centres every day - or worse, left to starve and die on its own. Not everyone might appreciate a snake in the house.
Pets for Christmas or Birthdays
The very worst time to buy a pet is at a time when the focus is on having fun and enjoying parties with friends and family. A pet is a living animal, and needs time to settle in its new home, and this is done best with the minimum of fuss and handling, and with lots of peace and quiet. If you really want to give a pet as a present our advice is to give accessories (cage, collar, bed) etc, and the promise of the pet, and then go to collect it when the excitement has died down. And we must reproduce that common but oh so true saying here: A pet is for life - not just for Christmas! Getting a pet is a lifetime (theirs, that is!) commitment. Pets have feelings and rights under the law - it is not something that you can get tired of after just a few days, weeks or months!
Considerations when buying a pet
You will need to consider:
The cost: how much will it cost to buy the animal, the accessories, and how much will it cost per week to feed.
Time: how much time does the pet need per day to look after? What happens if you want to go away for a weekend or on holiday?
Commitment: how long will the pet live? (you may be left looking after it long after your child has left home!).
Lifestyle: how will your lifestyle need to change? A rabbit in the garden or aquarium of fish won't cause too much concern, but a dog or cat will take over your house, leave pet hairs on your furniture and will be impossible to ignore!
Young Milk Snake
The age of your child: Older children will be able to take at least some responsibliity for looking after their pets - younger children will need more help, or will expect you to do it!
What type of pet will suit your lifestyle?
Any pet will need looking after - some need a lot more attention than others. Unless your child is a exception to the general rule, however much they tell you before you give in that they will be the sole carer for their pet, pretty soon you'll find yourself becoming involved t a greater or lesser degree.
Before you decide on the animal you want to give house or garden room to, consider the questions below.
Is there a member of the household who is at home most of the day?
How much time would you be prepared looking after, grooming, cleaning out or feeding an animal?
Do you have a lot of holidays or weekends away from home?
Whose pet will I be??