I’ve been an animal lover since I was a very small child. I remember wanting to cuddle everything from a turtle to the neighbor’s dog at the age of 3. My parents gave in to my pleas and got me a number of pets throughout my childhood, all the while knowing they would be the ones caring for them. I was too young and irresponsible to really take care of them, and my parents knew that.
Each pet was a learning experience for us; we learned which pets worked for me and which didn’t. There are some pets I wouldn’t recommend as a pet for a child, and these are at the top of that list.
I remember wanting at bird when I was about 5 years old. My mom wasn’t sure it was a good idea, but eventually caved and got me not one but two birds. The guy at the pet store told us the birds would be happier as a pair, which led my parents to getting two.
I was excited to get them home and set up in their cage, but as with most new things, that excitement faded. There wasn’t much I could do with the birds apart from listen to them chirp and watch them play, so I lost interest. My mom was left to clean up endless amounts of bird seed for the remainder of their lives.
Oh the fish! I know this is one “pet” my mother regrets. When I was around 10 years old I begged my mom to let me have a fish aquarium. I remember her explaining that fish weren’t something to play with and I would get bored. However, after much debate, she and my father gave in.
We went to the pet store where I picked out five of my favorite guppies, small colorful fish that are extremely cheap, and some decorations for my fish tank. It was fun for everyone at first, then they started having babies. The store clerk didn’t tell my parents that guppies have babies all year long.
Before we knew it, we had an entire aquarium full of guppies of all ages. My parents spent years carting guppies back to the pet store asking them to please take them off their hands. Finally, around three years later, my mom had enough. She drained the tank, leaving about 3 inches of water for the fish, and gave it all to the pet store.
My hamster came at age 12. I’m still shocked my mother let me have one while she was still dealing with the fish mess, but she did.
I was older and really interested in the hamster. In fact, it was the first pet I took care of by myself; he even lived in my room. The problem was that while I had great intentions, I still wasn’t responsible enough. I often forgot to feed him, which luckily my mother always double-checked, and I even left his cage open. Imagine my mother’s horror when she learned my hamster was on the loose in her house, and she had no idea how to find him.
Luckily, we found him the first, second, and third time he got out, but we weren’t so lucky the fourth time. All these years later we still have no clue where that hamster ended up. I can only hope he found his way to a food source, grew old, and went peacefully in his sleep.
Pets can be fun for every member of the family, but don’t be fooled. Some of these pets seem to be easy or low maintenance, but no pet really is. They all take a lot of work, and even if your child swears you won’t have to do anything, you will.