Pet for a 5 yr old, options?
My son’s birthday is coming up in May and he is absolutely obsessed with the idea of having a pet. Does anyone have any advice?
A few considerations;
– the bar is really quite low here, ie. he’s mentioned worms and snails recently! Would ideally like to take it up a notch to something that interacts with you a bit though.
– I’m fully aware I’ll probably end up looking after it. Am happy to to be honest as long as it’s not too much of a time/money pit.
– In an ideal world I’d love a family dog but it’s just not an option as we wouldn’t be able to give it the time it deserves
– Cat – no, I’m allergic
– Not keen on anything small and bitey (or nocturnal, or incontinent), so that’s rats/mice/hamsters/gerbils out. Oh and not a snake – just no.
– The little bit of research I’ve done suggests a lizard of some type might be an option (bearded dragon, leopard gecko)?
– Am also interested in guinea pigs. I’m aware they would be more of a commitment but my wife has always wanted them (and I am quite keen to be honest). Would be interested to hearing on the practicalities of ownership.Posted 3 years ago
Rethink your objection to rats. They don’t bite (unless seriously provoked and/or a seriously nasty one, they exist but are rare). Crepuscular so mostly sleep during day/night and play in morning/evening. Very interactive, friendly and intelligent compared to all other small pets. Best of all they are cheap as chips and only live 18 months so you won’t be stuck looking after it for ever.
I had a guinea pig as a child. Moderately friendly but pretty stupid and boring. I’d have much preferred a rat (though didn’t realise at the time).Posted 3 years ago
A pair of guinea pigs might be a good shout. Must be a pair though, they are very social animals.
What do you need to know?Posted 3 years ago
I had a couple of these – dead easy to look after and he’ll never be scared of a house spider again 🙂
They’re getting a bit spendy now though I believe (if you can get hold of one). Edit: wait, no they’re not.
Guinea pigs…. never again – noisy smelly bastards
Hamsters are cute.Posted 3 years ago
guinea pigs are boring and stupid. they are constantly terrified of you even though you give them food and take care of them.
I had a toad when I was 6, that was also shit. Get Russian hamster I reckon they are awesomePosted 3 years ago
For a five year old? Something stuffed, or a goldfish.
Whatever you ultimately choose, you’re investing in a family pet, not just a pet for your lad. Chances are that the novelty will soon wear off. Check average lifespans – guinea pigs can last for several years, you could still be looking after it in 2026.Posted 3 years ago
I know it wasn’t in your list but don’t get a rabbit. The amount of poo they produce is staggering.Posted 3 years ago
Get Russian hamster I reckon they are awesome
I had three Winter White dwarf hamsters for a while. They were ace, though sleep a lot during the day. It was a shock to me how something so small could have such personality, they were three very different characters. The only downside is that the were supposed to be sociable and this turned out not to be the case so I ended up with three cages before they killed each other. (They were sold to me as brothers and in hindsight I suspect that may have been a lie.)
Whether they’d be appropriate for a five-year old, I’d guess not.Posted 3 years ago
Komodo dragon. Or other apex predator.Posted 3 years ago
Best thing about hamsters is they teach kids about death! Especially the Russian Dwarf ones.Posted 3 years ago
I assume your cat allergy is the usual itchy runny eyes and sneezing? In witch case there are some very very low allergy breeds. Its not actually the fur that causes the allergy, its a protein in their saliva which is all over the fur from washing. So low allergy cats tend to be the hairless/short haired and IMO ugly things BUT Siberians are the opposite, very long haired and cute, very affectionate too (or at least the one I know is), it just doesn’t have much at all of sai protein. They aren’t cheap though….think a siberian kitten is £600-£800. Nice cats though.
Posted 3 years ago
Standard (Syrian) Hamsters are easy to handle and pretty entertaining, they can make a racket at night though.Posted 3 years ago
Russian Hamsters are harder to handle than their Syrian cousins IME, they’re smaller and more nippy.
Gerbils are fun to watch but harder to handle than hamsters and faster if you let them out.
Chipmunks are lots of fun to watch but lightning quick when they escape (which they will when you clean them out).
Stick insects – fairly interesting to observe and easy enough to handle if you’re careful of their legs. They breed like nobodies business though, If you start off with one within 6 months you’ll have 50.
Giant Millipede – easy to handle, easy to look after, cheap(ish). Might be good if he likes insects?
We’ve Currently got some fish, and also a couple of armoured shrimp which add another dimension to a fish tank.
yes and with a hamster it will only live 2 -3 years then they can move on to facebook or playstation or smoking or whateverPosted 3 years ago
I know you said no dogs, but have you considered giving a home to a retired racing greyhound? All the ones I have ever met are docile and just want to spend as much time as they can sleeping.
Guinea Pigs seems to squeak and poo a lot. However, they are apparently quite tasty and, fun fact, are one of a select few animals that cannot make their own vitamin C so, like humans, need it in their diet.Posted 3 years ago
Chickens.. Free eggs (well not really but fresh) and they’re surprisingly social and clever..Posted 3 years ago
Get some quails?Posted 3 years ago
Get him a tamagotchi. No mess, you can turn the sound off, he has to keep it alive, no issues with allergies.Posted 3 years ago
My friend had a couple of rats. The room stank of their piss.Posted 3 years ago
For a five year old? Something stuffed, or a goldfish.
Whatever you ultimately choose, you’re investing in a family pet, not just a pet for your lad. Chances are that the novelty will soon wear off. Check average lifespans – guinea pigs can last for several years, you could still be looking after it in 2026.
Goldfish is not a great option TBQH; they have long life spans (20 years+), need a large tank (75L+ going on to more like 150L+ when fully grown), and are messy (hence need a lot of cleaning to avoid the tank getting overrun with algae or poo).
If you’re going to suggest fish then something like a male betta splendens is a lot more sensible (and interesting to keep). Just make sure to cycle the tank before adding the fish. 🙂Posted 3 years ago
A PerchyPanther? They’re awful cuddly, don’t move very fast, just really need feeding and their cages cleaned out on a regular basis.Posted 3 years ago
Loving and loyal. He’ll be the envy of all his friends.Posted 3 years ago
A PerchyPanther? They’re awful cuddly,
It’s glandular* …..and you really, really wouldn’t want to clean out my cage. 😉
*overactive chippy gland.Posted 3 years ago
A PerchyPanther? They’re awful
FTFYPosted 3 years ago
A PerchyPanther? They’re awful and cuddly
At least acknowledge my body image issues.Posted 3 years ago
Guinea pigs are the best. We’re adults with no kids and, because we aren’t allowed a dog in our rented house, got two guinea pigs, and love them. My wife wasn’t mega keen but says she can’t imagine going without them – she’s convinced they’ve improved her mental wellbeing and we just don’t get bored of them, they’re constantly entertaining. They also interact with you and are vaguely interested in you – they’ll come and say hi in the morning (because they want food) and will come up to you, smell you, lick you and so on. Ours will chase the postman as much as their cage will allow when they’re outside.
They will need a bigger cage than the pet shops advertise (as a minimum they’d need the ones they advertise for two big rabbits) and the first year is pretty crucial for getting them socialised, you’ll need to get them out at least every other day otherwise they turn into wimps. Otherwise they’re pretty low maintenance. Chuck the bedding in the garden waste wheelie bin once a week, feed them twice a day and let them play outside in the summer and they’re totally content. I’ve also not had to mow our lawn for four years because they do it for me.
My colleague looks after them while we’re on holiday. She is not into pets but loves them, and her daughter and mates just can’t get enough of them.
Posted 3 years ago
Oh, and ours will pong a bit after a week but so would you if you lived in your own filth. When they pong, clean them out. They’re also not very noisy, and silent at night. They are very noisy if a fridge is opened or a plastic bag is rustling, though. Anything that means food will bring out noise.
One of ours bit one person, once.Posted 3 years ago
Guinea pigs or hamsters are a good bet. I had both around that age. Reptiles are pretty dull after the novelty wears off and need to be carefully handled and cared for. Special lights for heat and uv which need replacing regularly. Special diets etc.Posted 3 years ago
If you can’t have a dog or cat, guinea pigs are a good bet. The more you cuddle them the nicer they get.
Had a dodgy rabbit once that was cute and nibbly to begin with, but morphed into psycho bunny which just attacked you if you got near it. It “must have escaped” one night shortly before a very tasty stew.Posted 3 years ago
+1 for chickens. A proper pet that all the family will love, great personalities, pretty easy to keep and leave for a few days. &.eggs.Posted 3 years ago
We had two guinea pigs. They were a pain. They lived outside, contributed nothing back to us yet needed a weekly clean involving clearing out the hutch and putting in new paper and hay. Also had to pop them in the run every day and take them out again. We got them on the basis that my wife would look after them, but she then spent two years being pregnant..!
We have a dog, but that’s something else altogether. Don’t get a retired greyhound, they might be huge work and destroy your house (actual, current real life experience of this with a good friend, and it’s not her first)
Something small and indoors is good, one that doesn’t smell is a bonus. Fish is a good idea, low maintenance, can look nice with some lighting and fun to watch
Chickens are a good shout, but they wreck your garden!
Something small and furry is more of a pet for a child though, something they can pick up.Posted 3 years ago
We’ve had guinea pigs girls since late 2009, they live indoors (pen in ~150×150 cm including a multi-storey hutch), but they go out on the nicer day(s) in the so called summer. They do much better in 3+ groups, we’ve usually had four, but the group is now down to two after Coco died of old age ~2 years ago and Hazel died last November far too young (nasty tumour).
The general consensus is males are much braver than females, as youngsters our five girls were quite active during the day until they reached ~2 years old, but our remaining two are now mostly inactive outside food time (morning, mid afternoon, dinner).
In the past, we’ve had Syrian (singleton females) and Russian Dwarf hamsters (two brothers living together), our last one (Ruby) was an amazing character! However, they won’t normally wake up until it’s gone ~1900, which doesn’t give kids much interactive time.
You can’t “play” with them like mammal pets, but I reckon a 120x30x30cm fish tank of livebearers might make decent pets for youngsters. For example, the colourful and sub-tropical Illydon xantusi, much smaller broods of youngsters every few months, compared to Mollies and Platties. Or in a 250l+ tank, some colourful cichlids from the Rift Valley lakes.Posted 3 years ago
I’d take a Rabbit over Guinea pigs any day of the week, and we’ve had both. Best if you have a secure garden, and they have the run of it most of the day.
At the other end of the spectrum, the low bar end, Woodlice are quite interesting. We’ve had them too. And a toad called Rachel.Posted 3 years ago
Look at small / nano aquaria and suitable species of fish – all my boys have little biotopes with plants and very small fish (plus the odd Betta) that require minimal maintenance as long as you keep the stocking low and are fascinating.
We do also have dog, cats, guinea pigs so fish may not fill any cuddly requirements.
EDIT – having read above – NOT LIVEBEARERS. Or at least males only.There’s no stopping them once they get going! Has taken a few years to whittle back down to a few male Endlers after introducing 3 pairs ….Posted 3 years ago
Sphinx kittens are cute! Also, apart from not causing allergic reactions, their body temperature is higher than normal, and their skin is plush, like suede.
Posted 3 years ago
Indoor guinea pigs are great, right size to be handled by a 5 yo (hamsters are a bit small), live a decent long life, are easy to look after (you’ll be cleaning them out), and, as mentioned, like the sound of a fridge!
Avoid rabbits, nasty and vicious.
At one time we kept, guinea pigs, stick insects, fish, hamsters, giant land snails (MUST be kept separately), a dog and two kids.
The last two were very hard work!Posted 3 years ago
I have an allergy to cats, when the kids come in from their friends who have cats, my eyes are streaming and I find it hard to breathe.
however, I am typing this with our Bengal sat on my shoulder. It’s true, they are hypoallergenic .
hes a royal PITA though !!
Then again, I might just be allergic to the kidsPosted 3 years ago
Sorry, did a bit of a post and run, but lots of food for thought there. Many thanks.Posted 3 years ago
Sphinx kittens are cute!
That looks like a normal kitten that you’ve fed after midnight.
Don’t get it wet or expose it to sunlight.Posted 3 years ago
Quit your job and get a puppy
(seems to be the option my wife has chosen)
Posted 3 years ago
That ballbag-skin kitten thing is just weird….Posted 3 years ago
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