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Which is the best first pet

My lo is only 14M but I'm thinking about getting him a small pet soon and have had a few thoughts.

I've ruled out a mouse because my OH says he had them and they smelled

I've also ruled out fish because theyre pretty boring

I've kind of ruled out hamsters because theyre nibbly and can smell..but also that wheel....aaargh!

Then a bloody shop keeper told my OH that rats are really intelligent and clean so now he wants one but I just can't get over the fact that its a rat and its not exactly cute is it!?

So now im thinking either a rabbit or a guinea pig...Ive heard guinea pigs are really friendly and hardly bite but I hate the little squeaky thing that they do! So I'm thinking rabbit now...but How long do they live for?? I live in a huge rented house with a huge garden and in retrospect an outdoor pet would be ace as no noise and/or smell...but I don't know if our next house will have a huge garden short...what first pet did you have as a child and what, if you have already got, did you buy as a first pet for your child??


  • I had a cat and dog as a child my parents actually got the dog a year before i was born and he was mine slept at my bedroom door every night to protect me he was lovely the cat was also lovely.

    When we had dd1 we already had 3 cats and kept them and she loved them then when dd2 was 5 months old dd1 was almost 2 and was asking for her own pet we got a kitten and it was a brill decision as the kitten cat now loes both the girls and the other cats seeing that dds dont hurt her they became more friendly with the girls too and then for Lexies 3rd b'day we also got her a hamster but shes not that keen she likes to stroke it if im holding her but wont hold her herself so i would say either a rabbit or a cat image
  • We have a dog but I wouldnt rec getting a puppy with LO. Their teeth are so sharp as puppies and they can actually hurt LO's without realising it, jumping up etc. Great pet for when older though. Our dog was 3 when LO was born and they are best friends

    Fish is a great start and although boring LO's love them and fish was one of LO's first words so they like to point and say it over and over haha.

    We like you were off last weekend to get LO a pet (he is 16 months) but whist there I decided that we would wait for his 2nd Bday where he can actually choose it himself and give it a name etc.

    I have to say though I hope to have loaaaaads of animals when LO is older as I love them.

    I did have 2 pet rats growing up and they are good pets, very intelligent, mine would sit on my lap whilst I watched telle. However they take a lot of patience to get to this stage and little fingers do look like little carrots haha
  • We had our dog, a yorkshire terrior, about a year before having Riley. She's always been so good with him and they play together sometimes.

    A rabbit would be nice. My brothers girlfriend has one and Riley loves looking at it when we go round there. The only thing that puts me off about them is cleaning the cage out which you have to do pretty regularly if you don't want it to smell. I remember having both rabbits and guinea-pigs when we were growing up and cleaning them out became a real chore! x
  • get him a pony!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! pmsl only joking I think a cat is the best tbh. I have had mice/hamsters/ rats they all stink they are a pain in the ass to clean out and they all want to escape.

    A cat is good in that they are clean animals, easy to look after affectionate, they really take care of themselves, we have dogs and tbh since ds2 has come along I haven't been a great dog owner in that they are lacking walks etc etc whereas with a cat you wouldn't have this issue xx
  • hmm I may rethink the fish thing then. We had a dog before we moved that my mum and dad now have because we both work full time I dont think its fair on the pup and OH is allergic to cats so thats a no no too unfortunatley. His mum and dad have a cat and DS loves her! Her name was one of his first words too (shes not as fond of him though hahaha..he has a habit of petting her too hard bless) and we think he might be allergic too as he comes out in a small rash everytime we stay with his parents. ho hum

    maybe ill get him a pet rock??? lol
  • a fish/couple of fish or a rabbit...i lov rabbits, both mine were very tame and behaved almost like puppies lol, they were small breeds though, not the big type, but the cleaning out can be a pain (and stinky) especially n summer when it needs doing more often...i think a fish is the best introduction to having a pet as minimum maintenace but teaches some responsibility, ur lo can feed them etc (under ur supervision ofc as fish can get overfed and poorly)... i would love to get ds (22months) a fish but we don't have anywhere to put a tank/bowl, but i would suggest getting the filter (even if ur only getting a goldfish)as otherwise, again, lots of cleaning out x
  • id say you've made a good choice between a rabbit or a guinea pig. Ive always had all sorts of pets growing up. I always had hamsters but since growing up I don't know why people always get them for there children... for one thing they can be quite unpredictable at biting, and man does it hurt when they do!! and 2- they sleep through the day and get up at night, not very good for kids really coz they get up when they are in bed haha.

    Ive had 3 guineas and 1 rabbit, and I think if I had a child and was buying them there first pet I would choose a guinea pig over a rabbit. Ive never once been bitten by a guinea pig but have by a rabbit, and even though my rabbit had loads of time spent with her and she lived in the house practically all the time, she used to get quite moody, she used to growl and charge at you, and would stand on her back legs and kinda scratch and punch you. haha. I dont know if that was coz she was a girl and if males are maybe abit more docile. Or maybe she was just a spoilt brat! lol Only thing is with guineas is some can be a little bit nervous and jumpy so make sure you find one thats abit more confident. I seen one in pets at home the other week and he was so cute, and looked a right little character!

    ive heard rats make excellant pets but im abit like you, i dont know wether i could have one. I dont really like their tails! As a child my friend had one, she bought it as a baby and was told she was buying a hamster. well any way this hamster got huge and when she took it to the vets the vet said that was no hamster, it had been a rat and something must of happened to its tail!! It was a really friendly thing thou!

    what ever you choose im sure you will be happy with your choice image xx
  • we had goldfish which dd1 loved as she liked feeding them,cleaning them out and watching them but last year we got her a hamster and she loves it! i dont like them myself but its up to her and hubby to feed,stroke,handle,clean out ect and it lives in her bedroom. as long as you keep them clean they dont smeel but it all depends on how much time you have to do this. they do it twice a week.

    the noise of the wheel (DD1'S has 2 wheels as we have 2 cages joined together now its got so big,lol) doesnt wake her at all and she has very acute hearing, also her room is right next door to lizzies and even with doors open,i can hear it other end of the house but neither of the kids wake to it.

    we were going to get a rabbit but we live in the country side and foxes would get it and i would not have something so big and smelly in the house all winter when its cold!

    we want to get a dog but at the mo we cant as we are both out the house from 7:30-7pm and it wouldnt be fair on the dog to be alone all day x
  • I couldn't really say as I grew up with cats, dogs, ferrits, rabit, hampster/rats, fish, birds of prey, doves errm i think that was it but yeah lol they were all great and to be honest can all be smelly if you dont clean them out!

    I wouldnt rule out a rat tho as they actually make lovely pets, really loving, clean and fun.
  • We got a young cat from the local rescue centre when LO was about 6months and they are so lovely with eachother. As soon as LO comes down in the morning our cat runs up to him and has a little cuddle.

    A dog or rabbit would be a nice first pet too.
  • i had rats growing up and they are fantastic pets,and def a pet i would be buying my ds as a first pet....when you actually see them they are cute not the sewer rats you would think of,they are very very clean animals and perfect for little hands to hold,maybe go to a pet shop and 'try' one..seriously they are very underestimated. I actually owned ex lab rats that were tested on smarties!!!

    rabbits can be scratchy and take time to clean out,guinea pigs are ok,not great to handle but they dont bite,can be a very timid animal

    I grew up with all sorts of animals and ive always recommmended a rat to people looking for kids and will def be buying my ds one xxx
  • Please don't get a rabbit!! They're a nightmare.

    I'm a vet nurse (worked for the RSPCA for years) and people just don't realise what a disaster rabbits can be. They're prone to all sorts of dental and digestive problems caused by not being able to graze grass freely. Plus, some can be really unfriendly and have behavioural problems, often as a result of living alone in an unnatural environment.

    Rabbits are designed to live in large groups in burrows and graze grass all day.

    Rabbits can be very kicky and scratchy, and are very easy to break. Their backs are quite fragile and can just snap if you're holding one and it kicks out.

    Guinea pigs and rats make much better pets for children, but older children I think. They are friendly and have fewer health issues. However, both these species like company of their own species so you would have to have two.

    In my opinion, the best solution is to have a family pet, a cat specifically. They do their own thing most of the time but are also sociable and cuddly. Plus, there's no hutches to clean out and you don't have the moral dilemma of keeping an animal in a cage that would rather roam freely. But, as your OH is allergic it's a no go.

    Guinea pigs and rabbits are a huge commitment - they live for about 5-8 year and actually take a lot of looking after. Cleaning them out takes time and needs doing at least twice a week, you need to interact with them so they don't get bored and depressed and they need plenty of free grazing time.

    You also need to consider where you would put them in the winter - it's too cold to leave them outside.

    If you have rabbits you'll want them insured as vets bills are horrendous. It costs about ??10 a month per rabbit. You'll also need them vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease, about ??50 per rabbit per year and then if you have a pair one will need to be neutered, about ??100.

    Guineas don't need vaccinating but the male of a pair should be neutered, again about ??100. I don't know of an insurance policy for Guinea Pigs but would imagine if there was one it would be a bit cheaper than rabbits.

    Seriously consider why you want a pet - you have animals around you that your LO can visit and he's too young to really understand about having one of his own. Plus, it looks like you're TTC, how are you going to have time for pets when the new bubs arrives?

    Surely it's a better idea to wait until your LO is old enough to really appreciate a pet and take an active role in looking after it.

    Sorry for the long post, but I've seen hundreds of pet disasters over the years - mainly rabbits and guinea pigs abandoned in cages at the bottom gardens and visited once a week to get a bit of food thrown in and a clean out if they're lucky because their owners are really busy, made a hasty decision and the novelty has worn off.

    It's really sad and really common.

    Have a look here...

    ...and here...

    ...and here...

    and make sure you really know what you're letting yourself in for before you take the plunge.

    B xx
  • Hi, I have to agree with monkey nuts, rabbits and guinea pigs are such hard work, much more than people think! I have 2 rabbits and have to clean the litter trays every other day at least, they need to be put out to run and graze everyday, vaccinations and vets bills add up to loads and they are so sensitive that if they get upset they stop eating which equals more trips to the vets! I think rabbits are some if the most neglected animals out there purely because people think they are an easy child friendly pet but unfortunately that couldn't be further from the truth! I had 2 cats and a dog growing up and I think a cat would be the best first pet , at least they don't need walking! Hope this helps your decision! Good luck! X
  • I understand where youre coming from MN, but I'm not TTC haha god my OH would die if you told him that! Plus, although family have pets, they live in Glasgow and we in Aberdeen so we have no family at all.

    I've grown up with pets around me and a house isnt a home to me without animals imo its just I've never had to make the decision of a first pet for a child. Ive had rabbits, hamsters, fish, dogs and cats and I am aware of the commitment because I was always cleaning out cages growing up too.

    I think were going to take lo to Pets and Home and see how he reacts to the animals never know he may be frightened of them!!
  • I'd seriously say no pets are easy!!!! We have 2 cats and 2 fish and the cats are easier to look after than the fish!!!! Fish are great first pets for kids but they also take a bit of looking after, right feeding, getting the pump right and cleaning it regularly, adding chemicals to the water etc.

    You obviously sound like you're used to animals so i would go with whatever suits best in your lifestyle!!

    Hubby now wants to get our ds a bearded dragon and even tho I like them I am avoiding this subject at the moment as I don't know enough about them to commit!!! and I don't know how the cats will be with it!!!!! image
  • hmmmm, I have had rabbits and never had a problem with them, I have never had an unfriendly rabbit, but they have all been fairly domesticated, started off as house rabbits until the birth of dd, when they went outside, we had to unfortunately find new homes for three of them when we moved in with my mum and dad for a few months, but we still have one and he is now coming up to 7 years old, the belief that they only live as long as 3-4 years is wrong! My In laws have the two brothers of ours and theirs are also still going strong, so out of a litter of 4, 3 are definatly still alive (the other was one of those we had to rehome :O( so no idea how she is getting on) We have always allowed ours free reign of the garden if we are outside which is alot with two children and a big garden, but you must ensure that the garden is well enclosed to make sure you don't get an escapee! We don't need to overly handle ours, so don't have the problem with him kicking out and getting hurt, etc as I said he's fairly domesticated so we only have to signal for him to go back in his hutch and in he hops and rather than us approach him, he approaches us, which I think has helped with trust, etc. He does like alot of affection and love but definately prefers dd to provide this rather than the rest of us, although we will do if she's not around, lol!

    We also have a fish tank, that until our recent move only had one big goldfish and three tiny fish in it, however, the in laws were looking after it until this last weekend for us and we now have 16 of the things!! They may be boring to us but the kids love them, even at almost 6 and 4 my two spend hours watching them, but every pet needs alot of looking after and you have to make sure you have someone you can rely on to feed whilst you are on holiday, and someone who is happy to do the mucking out/cleaning up after any animal, including fish!
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