Gerbils: the best pet option for young children
If you have young children begging for a puppy, you may be concerned that even after they have promised to feed, walk, and clean up after him, you will in fact be the one taking care of the poor. creature. Then you will have a furry child to add to his offspring.
As a dog aficionado, even though I’m allergic, I’m an advocate for kids growing up with one (maybe even 2), but that says it’s a lot of work and when it comes to younger kids, it’s they may not be the best option. As children grow older and appreciate that a dog or cat requires a lot of care and work and is actually a member of the family once adopted, this idea may become more appealing. However, if your little loved ones are just that little ones but you still want them to have a pet to love and learn to care for (with your guide, of course), let me stand up for gerbils. But before we do, let’s go over some other pet options that may look attractive but may not be as suitable for a number of reasons.
Other small animals and their drawbacks.
I guess before assuming you the little critters will want one of the furry and cute varieties, I should go to the cold blooded ones. Personally, I quite like snakes and lizards, but I wouldn’t necessarily want one living in my house. Also, young children are very tactile and many of these creatures must be handled with care or they don’t necessarily like to be handled at all. Beyond that, your setup can be expensive and difficult to maintain. Since reptiles cannot regulate their own body temperature, it is crucial that their homes are kept at a certain constant temperature. Their diets can also be complicated. For these reasons, it is very easy for them to get sick if they are not closely watched for signs of distress.
Now to our fluffy friends. Rabbits are some of the cutest animals around, but experts will tell you that they don’t make good pets for young children. They are prone to biting, even with a lot of gentle handling and “training” to get them used to being petted and cuddled. Even more concerning is the fact that they are much more fragile than they appear. Rabbits have very delicate bones and even older children and adults need to be aware of how they are collected, handled and returned to their homes. They also need a lot of care and it can be a lot of work to clean up afterwards to keep their cages neat and odor free.
Guinea pigs have many of the same difficulties as bunnies. While they actually need a lot of love and attention, what may seem like a match made in heaven for kids who want nothing more than hugs and kisses is a lot more work than you’d think. If you have a guinea pig, you should spend at least a couple of hours a day getting it out of its house and playing with it. If you have two (highly recommended as they are very sociable and lonely), it is still necessary to remove them from their cage at least once a day for an hour or more to play. They also require many different toys to play with and places to hide and explore to keep them happy and healthy. Again, diet is critical and cleaning can be a job in itself. The benefits are worth it, ask any guinea pig lover, but that’s a lot of work for anyone.
Rats (if they don’t scare you) are very sociable, but the downside once again is that they require a lot of attention and care. Mice are great, but they are lightning fast, urinate a lot, and need a lot of things to climb and play with to be happy. They are a great option though, as they are easy to care for in terms of diet, they don’t require much attention if kept in pairs or groups, and they don’t require a large cage. And the more you give them to play with, the more entertaining they get. It would definitely rank them number two.
Hamsters, although they are one of the cutest creatures out there, are not that easy to care for. The diet is simple and, again, they don’t require a large cage (although with any animal, the more space you can give it, the happier it will be). However, they need to be trained to hold them without freaking out or biting, they are fragile, and they also urinate a lot, which means their bedding needs to be changed regularly. There are also different types of hamsters and each type has different requirements to be healthy and happy. Some can and should be housed in multiples, others should be solitary, such as Teddy Bear hamsters. And while this should be intuitive and applies to any pets you may have, don’t house both genders together or you’ll end up with more pets than you bargained for. Hamsters (of any kind) would be better for a slightly older child with a little more patience.
Gerbils are a great option
Now we come to the gerbils. They should be housed in groups of at least two or more females to keep them happy as they are very social little munchkins. They are fast but do not bite and can be easily trained to get used to being carried. They don’t seem to care too much if a child shows up, scares them, and picks them up without warning. The only time a gerbil bit my finger was when I forgot to wash my hands after making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, who could blame the little one?
Gerbils are creatures of the desert, which means that they drink less water than other furry animals and therefore urinate much less. This means that their bedding stays clean longer and they should never have a smelly cage to deal with. They also love to dig and dig, but they introduce a wheel into their environment and once they figure it out, it will be their new favorite toy!
Their diet is simple (you can buy a two-pound bag of gerbil food at your nearest Walmart for $ 4.00 and it will last two gerbils for quite some time) and so is their home setup. The only thing I recommend that you don’t do is buy them one of those hard plastic houses from Habitrail. They love to chew and will eventually crack the plastic, but this does not mean that they are difficult to accommodate. You might like the look of the store bought shrine, but trust me, they don’t care. All they want to do all day is dig and race on their wheel, and maybe box a bit; this is typical of gerbils, especially sisters like the gerbils I have, Lola and Yvette. They can squeal and fight, but as long as they snuggle together at bedtime, you’ll know they’re okay.
I bought my little duo the largest Rubbermaid container I could find, filled it with recycled cardboard bedding (also available at Walmart and pet stores, of course) as wood chip bedding is not safe nor healthy for any animal, as it can cause respiratory problems. A wheel, a $ 5 log cabin, food and a bottle of water and you’re in pig heaven. They live an average of one to 3 years and mine are past the 3 year mark!
A reminder: plenty of space is key to the well-being of your new pet
As an animal lover, I am a huge advocate of making sure you do your research before adopting a pet of any kind. This is essential to ensure that everything from bedding to food to home settings is appropriate and of the highest quality.
Another crucial issue is space. Commercial cages are not that large and the “experts” at pet stores will be happy to direct you to a cage with all the amenities and convince you that this will keep your new pet happy, but this is not the case. Again, if you do your research, you will find that commercial cages are made to be large enough to house the appropriate animals and give them room to move around a bit, but that doesn’t mean they are suitable in any way. .
Imagine if someone had him in a cage for almost twenty-four hours a day. The problem is, manufacturers need to make cages that are easy to ship, can be easily stacked once they hit the pet store, and can be sold at an outrageous markup so it’s little more than heavy wire and / or plastic. In the future, when the kids are older and you decide you can graduate with one of the animals I’ve mentioned, take a look online for easy and inexpensive DIY pet houses. Often times, it is more fun to design and create your own habitat and this way your pet will have all the space he needs and a little more. This will be evident in your behavior and everyone will reap the benefits of a happy, healthy, and fun new addition to your family.