When you think of family pets you automatically think of a cat or a dog, but there are other animals that make wonderful pets if you do not want to go down the canine or feline route.
There are many reasons why families cannot have a cat or a dog, for example they may be in rented accommodation where cats and dogs are banned.
To buy a pedigree dog these days costs a lot of money and you have all the inoculations and vets bills to consider. So if you are looking for a family pet that is good with kids here is a list of ten alternatives to consider.
Please note, not all the pets are suitable for very young children, so please see the appropriate entry for details.
1 Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are ideal pets for children and you can get them in a variety of colors and choose between a long-haired or short-haired animals.
Young children will not have to go through the traumas of losing their beloved pet early on as a healthy guinea pig will live for five to ten years.
They are easy to feed as besides pellets you get from the local pet shop they love fresh vegetables. They need exercise but can be handled quite safely and easily so can run around the house or garden.
These are ideal starter pets for a child and there is nothing a hamster likes more than be carried round by its owner in their pocket, which is why they have the nickname “pocket animals”.
They are best for children eight years or older as they are very small, maximum 17cm, and so are easily squashed.
But hamsters are a good way for a child to learn how to look after a pet before they move on to something bigger like a dog.
These are great pets if you live in an apartment. They will provide you with hours of amusement and male budgies can be taught to talk quite easily.
They need very little looking after, just daily feeding and fresh water and cleaning out the cage once a week.
Budgies do like plenty of attention so you should talk to them regularly or get a companion if you only have one. Males do tend to fight so it is best to get a male and a female.
They do need to be allowed out of their cage to fly free but do not forget to shut the window before you let them out of the cage.
Rabbits make wonderful pets and love being played with by their owner. You can get outdoor rabbits or house rabbits that will soon learn to use a litter tray like a cat.
They love to roam around the house and will even settle on your lap if you want.
They do need plenty of exercise so an outdoor rabbit should have a hutch and a large run. An indoor rabbit gets its exercise exploring the house. They can also be taught to go out with you on a lead.
These friendly creatures are very good pets for older children who know how to look after them properly and are not afraid of the occasional nip.
They are extremely inquisitive and also very intelligent, and if they see anything new they will want to go and see what it is. Do not leave an outside door open when your ferret is loose as it will go through it before you know it.
The cage needs to be cleaned out regularly to avoid the animals becoming smelly.
These are classed as exotic pets and are suitable for older children. It is fascinating to own one but it is a long-term commitment as they can live to be 20 years old.
They do need to be kept in a heated terrarium and they are quite shy so they need to get to know you before they allow you to handle them.
They need very little in their cage, just a few logs, and once you have one you will never be bored.
These beautiful animals with soft, velvety fur are lovely to handle and cuddle. Because they are quite fragile creatures they should not be given to children under ten years old.
They can grow up with the kids as they can live to be 20 years old and they do not need much looking after. All they need is a wire cage with a solid floor and they eat pellets from the pet shop and drink fresh water.
8 Pygmy Goats
If you have a large garden or an orchard and want an outdoor pet you cannot do better than a pygmy goat. These miniature goats are so pretty you will soon learn to love them like a dog or a cat and they are a great way of keeping the grass down.
All you have to provide for them is some form of shelter so they can get some respite from the cold and the rain. They can live to be 15 years old but they never grow very big.
These are fun pets but are not cheap to buy. Neither is a proper parrot cage, as they need a lot of space.
Most of them can be taught to talk quite quickly and they will also mimic things they pick up from the television or your visitors.
They do like to come out of the cage but beware of your polished furniture as they enjoy pecking away at it. They are colorful, lively and playful and can live to be as old as 80.
If you have a baby or toddlers and do not have much time an ideal pet is a couple of goldfish in a bowl. Simple and cheap to buy, you only need some plants and some fish food from the local pet shop.
The children will be fascinated to sit and watch the fish swimming round and when they are older you can teach them to give them their daily food.
Very little maintenance is required as the bowl only needs to be cleaned out once a week to avoid algae building up.