What Is A Good Pet For A 7-Year-Old?


First pets are certainly a milestone for anybody, especially children. But it may be difficult as a parent to decide what pet to put into the hands of your 7-year-old. I did some research, and decided to share what I found. 

What is a good pet for a 7-year-old? Some great pets for your 7-year-old include ants, fish, ferrets, guinea pigs, rats, mice, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, chinchillas, reptiles, cats, and dogs. Some animals have very different care needs, so it is important to do some homework on each option before making your final decision. 

Pets are a great way to teach your 7-year-old about responsibility and companionship. Each pet has its quirks and needs, so there are options and choices aplenty. 

Ants 

Ants are an excellent choice in a pet for your 7-year-old. These little guys are extremely low maintenance, thus making them a parent-favorite. They are easy to feed, and entrancing to watch. Depending on the species, queens can live up to 15 years. Ant habitats can be purchased for around $25 dollars.

Fish

Fish are a fantastic pet for your 7-year-old. They are easy to feed, entertaining to watch, fairly easy to maintain, and small. 

The positives about fish are endless.

While you would still need to invest in a nice tank, filters, rocks or pebbles, and foliage, beyond that, caring for a fish requires very little investment of your time. Feeding them daily and cleaning out their tanks will be on a caregiver’s to-do list.

The frequency of tank cleaning depends on a few factors, like the kind of fish you have, but generally, it will need to be cleaned every two weeks. If your family life is too hectic for a dog or even a cat, these underwater friends can make great pets.

The positives about fish are endless: their colors and swimming patterns can soothe, they’re quiet, they don’t require a lot of space, they don’t shed — but they still need care and attention, some more than others.

Ferrets

The ever-curious ferret is a furry ball of energy when awake and a limp ragdoll when asleep. Ferrets live for about five to seven years and are full of personality. Some are shy, while others are rough-and-tumble characters.

Ferrets should be neutered or live in same-sex pairs/groups. A ferret can be kept as a single pet as long as the owner is attentive.

All ferrets require a few hours of out-of-cage playtime or free-roam of a ferret-proofed room. Most ferrets won’t mind being held but typically prefer to be off exploring.

Grooming needs are a bit higher than other small animal pets because, in addition to regular nails trims and occasional coat brushing or baths, ferrets need regular tooth brushing.

Yes, ferrets can be litter-trained.

Young ferrets are known to go through a nippy phase, and the hammocks or sleep sacks ferrets need must be laundered at least weekly. It is also worth noting that because ferrets are particularly clever and mischevious, it will be important to ferret-proof your home.

Otherwise, you might find them stowed away in your cupboards, happily munching away at all of your favorite cereal.

Guinea Pigs

The endearing guinea pig is a herd animal that enjoys interacting with its owner. Often, guinea pigs request food by wheeking, making a high-pitched, drawn-out squeak. The American Cavy Association recognizes 13 guinea pig breeds, so there’s some variety to choose from.

Guinea pigs typically live for about five years. As a herd animal, they do best when paired with another guinea pig, but some do well alone if an owner is attentive. If males are not neutered, same-sex pairs or groups are needed to avoid breeding.

Guinea pigs will generally be content when held securely for a few minutes. Hold a guinea pig while seated with it resting on a towel or small animal bed. Although it’s fun to sit with a guinea pig, one drawback is that they urinate or defecate frequently, so be prepared for some accidents.

Grooming needs for shorthaired breeds include occasional brushing and spot-cleaning of fur and regular nail trims. Longhaired breeds need more frequent brushing. Guinea pigs keep their growing teeth trim by chewing appropriate food or toys.

Rats and Mice

Rats might top the list as a kid-friendly pet. With only a two to three year lifespan, the time commitment is low. Many rat owners wish rats lived longer. Mice have even less of a time commitment, living only one to two years.

Both rats and mice are social animals and do better in same-sex pairs or groups; the exception is male adult mice, which will fight if housed together.

Rats enjoy interacting with owners and like to hang out together, which is why they make a kid-friendly pet. Their size is about right for children — not too small, but easy to pick up and carry.

Mice are much smaller than rats and are more like hamsters regarding interaction. That means mice often enjoy doing their own thing and are more fun to watch than hold.

Grooming for both rats and mice is minimal because both pets groom themselves. Owners might need to brush or spot-clean the coat occasionally. Chew items must be provided to keep their growing teeth trimmed.

Rats and mice both need ample space, though rats need more than mice. While a large aquarium might work for a mouse, rats need a cage with multiple levels, similar to a hutch you might buy for a gerbil or hamster.

Hamsters

The charming, busy hamster is a pet that’s fun to watch. Five species are usually available — the large Syrian and the four smaller dwarf species (Roborovski, Winter White, Campbell’s and Chinese).

The life span of hamsters ranges from one to three years, with the Syrian living longest. The Syrian must always be kept in its own habitat, because adult Syrians usually fight, sometimes to the death.

The dwarf breeds can do well in groups, but might occasionally get into fights that require housing them in separate habitats.

Pair or group same-sex hamsters to avoid breeding. While hamsters don’t usually object to being held, they usually won’t sit and cuddle. Hamsters are the busy bees of the pet world and are usually on the go.

It’s most fun to watch them play in their habitat or in a play area.

One drawback to hamsters is their sleep schedule, which is the opposite of a child’s. Hamsters are awake and busy at night and sleep during the day. Hamsters are self-groomers that rarely need an owner to do anything except provide an occasional dust bath with the special dust sold by pet retailers.

As rodents, hamsters have constantly-growing teeth that are kept in check by them chewing appropriate food or toys. It is also important to note that  Chinese hamsters are illegal to own in some states.

Gerbils

The playful gerbil is busy, smart and likes to hang out with people. Although gerbils only live for about two to three years, they pack a lot of living into that time. Acrobatic and social, gerbils usually do best if housed as same-sex pairs/groups.

Occasionally, gerbils might need separate housing if fighting occurs. With gentle handling, gerbils learn to trust their owner and enjoy interacting. A gerbil should never be lifted by its tail, because the tail skin might come off and never return.

Gerbils are another self-grooming pet and do not require regular grooming from their owner. However, gerbil owners should offer a dust bath to the gerbils weekly and always provide items for the gerbils to chew to keep their ever-growing teeth trimmed. Gerbils are known for their chewing ability!

Gerbils are illegal to own in several states, so be sure your area permits gerbil ownership before obtaining one.

Rabbits

Soft and furry rabbits are available in many breeds, with more than 40 rabbit breeds recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association. The large selection of rabbit breeds and availability make rabbits a popular children’s pet.

Holland Lops, Dutch and Polish are some of the popular bunny breeds, and larger bunny breeds like the Flemish Giant tend to be more tolerant of handling.

Although life-spans vary, rabbits generally live for about 10 years, which means getting a pet rabbit is a significant commitment. If a child is 10 when a young bunny joins the family, he or she will likely be a high school graduate or beyond for the bunny’s senior years.

Although life-spans vary, rabbits generally live for about 10 years, which means getting a pet rabbit is a significant commitment. If a child is 10 when a young bunny joins the family, he or she will likely be a high school graduate or beyond for the bunny’s senior years.

Rabbits are social animals that generally do best when paired or grouped with other rabbits, but be sure that all rabbits are neutered or spayed to avoid unintended breeding.

Rabbits generally do not like to be held or picked up; incorrect handling can result in a rabbit’s nails scratching a child, or a rabbit’s back or legs being injured or broken.

Because rabbits groom themselves, shorthaired breeds usually don’t need owners to do much beyond a weekly brushing and spot-cleaning of fur. Rabbits do require regular nail trims, especially if they do not have access to appropriate digging opportunities, and they must have items to chew in addition to hay to keep their teeth trimmed.

Rabbits with maloccluded teeth could need regular tooth trims done by a veterinarian. Longhaired rabbit breeds usually require daily brushing. Yes, rabbits can be litter-trained.

Rabbits absolutely must eat hay, so a rabbit won’t be a good fit if anyone in the house is allergic to hay.

Chinchillas

Touching a chinchilla’s super-soft fur is a sensation, but chinchillas rarely hold still for petting. Chinchillas live to be about 10 years old. They are on the large side of the small animal pets and require a larger cage.

As herd animals, they do best with a companion chinchilla (same-sex to avoid breeding).

Chinchillas, like hamsters and mice, are pets more to appreciate by watching instead of interacting with them. Handling can be difficult, and grabbing the fur wrong can cause it to come out in clumps.

Grooming for a healthy chinchilla basically requires just offering it a dust bath a few times a week.

Chinchillas also like to chew and have constantly growing teeth, so appropriate chew items must be provided to keep their teeth trimmed.

Chinchillas, like hamsters and mice, are pets more to appreciate by watching instead of interacting with them. Handling can be difficult, and grabbing the fur wrong can cause it to come out in clumps.

Grooming for a healthy chinchilla basically requires just offering it a dust bath a few times a week. Chinchillas also like to chew and have constantly growing teeth, so appropriate chew items must be provided to keep their teeth trimmed.

Chinchillas must eat hay, so a chinchilla won’t be a good fit if anyone in the house is allergic to hay.

Reptiles

Like fish, reptiles can be excellent cold-blooded choices for your 7-year-old. Here is a list of some reptiles that are good for your child. See PetSmart’s article on this. There should be some good information there. 

  • Anole – These cool lizards boast colorful neck pouches and are a great choice for novice reptile pet parents. Anoles can live more than five years and grow up to 8 inches long. They like to relax in a tropical habitat and love to eat crickets and worms.
  • Bearded Dragon – Don’t let the name fool you; this reptile is more a lizard than dragon! They’re gentle pets and also a good choice if you’re new to reptiles. Beardies enjoy being picked up and eat all sorts of food including crickets, worms, and veggies. Be sure you have space and time—they can grow up to 24 inches long and live for more than a decade.
  • Leopard Gecko – Friendly and low-maintenance, this is a fantastic first-time lizard. They are calm and easy to handle. These lizards are nocturnal and prefer to have caves to hide in during the day. Leopard geckos grow to about 11 inches long and can live up to 20 years.
  • Snake – Legs are overrated. These twisty pets are surprisingly easy to care for—with gentle treatment, they’re wonderfully docile. Snakes can live 15 to 35 years, depending on the species. They’re often carnivores and can be fed prepared diets of frozen rodents.
  • Tortoise – With an ancient lineage that can be traced all the way back to the days of the dinosaurs, tortoises look amazingly prehistoric. Unlike turtles, these guys are land dwellers and herbivores. Common pet species can grow up to 12 inches and live to be over 50 years old with the right care.
  • Turtle – Turtles spend most of their time in the water, tend to have webbed feet, and are omnivores. The diet of a turtle can include crickets, worms, goldfish, veggies and pellets—definitely no pizza. Turtles can grow up to 11 inches long and can live for more than 30 years.
  • Water Dragon – This attractive lizard has skin made up of different shades of green and a glamorous head-to-tail crest. Water dragons may require more maintenance than beginner-level reptiles. They grow up to 3 feet long and eat crickets and worms.

Cats

Cats are a fantastic choice in companion for your 7-year-old. They are affectionate and loyal animals. There are lots of different breeds that each have different characteristics. Below are some of the best breeds of cat to get your 7-year-old.

Abyssinian

 Abyssinians, affectionately known as Abys, are affectionate, loyal and normally mix well with children and other pets. Known for their curiosity, playfulness and need to explore their surroundings, Abyssinians are people-oriented cats who like to participate in the activities taking place around them.

Cornish Rex Cat

These cats can be trained to fetch balls and toys, enjoy the company of other pets, and are typically not couch potatoes. The breed has a reputation for racing about, often performing acrobatics when very excited. 

The Cornish Rex is an adventurous breed, often finding unusual nooks and crannies to explore, such as the washing machine or refrigerator. It is easily adaptable to new situations and is known to get along well with shy or timid children.  

Exotic Shorthair Cat

The exotic cat’s personality tends to mimic that of a Persian cat: sweet, affectionate and playful. Exotic cats are known to show a great deal of affection and loyalty and commonly follow their owners throughout the home. 

Generally friendly towards other animals, exotic cats have a gentle and tenderhearted disposition. With their tame, gentle personality and rare meowing, they are good companions for children.

Himalayan

Himalayan cats are known for their sweet temperament, intelligence and playful interaction. Much like Siamese cats, the Himalayan breed enjoys a good game of fetch and can usually be entertained for hours with a simple scrap of balled-up paper or a cat toy.

These cats bond well with their families, preferring to spend more time in their company than on their own.

Maine Coone Cat  

Maine Coon cats are known for their intelligence and playfulness, as well as their size. One of the largest breeds of domestic cats, they are lovingly referred to as “gentle giants.” 

Maine Coons are people-oriented, relaxed and easy-going with high intelligence, making them excellent companions and easy breed to train. They’re also known for their dog-like behavior: they follow their owners from room to room, respond when called and play fetch.

Ragdoll Cat

One of the largest breeds of cats, the ragdoll is also one of the most affectionate, often referred to as “puppy-cat” because of its dog-like personality. Ragdolls are extremely mild-mannered and friendly, and often seek out human companionship, such as following people around the house, sleeping with or flopping on their owners. 

This breed is particularly good with children and other pets and is easily trained to learn the same tricks as dogs, such as playing fetch, rolling over or begging.

Manx Cats

Manx cats have the independent qualities of cats but are loyal, warm and playful like dogs. The Manx meow unusually sounds like a trill. This laid-back, unruffled cat makes a good pet for children and takes an interest in what you’re doing.

You will likely hear their padded paws following you around the house. Some Manx have also been known to play fetch and enjoy the water. But their similarities to dogs don’t end there.

Manx are so protective they might growl or attack a dog or a person they suspect is a threat to their family.

Scottish Fold Cats

Sweet natured and demure, Scottish fold cats are known to possess an easy-going nature, and to be very loving and friendly with people and other household pets.

This outgoing and playful breed tends to become particularly attached to one family member. The Scottish fold cat is also known for its soft voice and the ability to “speak” in a variety of different-sounding purrs and meows not commonly heard in many other cat breeds.

Siamese Cats

This shorthaired, blue-eyed breed is one of the most sociable of all felines—and one of the most popular. Intelligent and highly social, Siamese cats enjoy interactions with children and other animals, particularly dogs.

This active and playful breed seeks out companionship from human counterparts, whether that entails sitting laps or being in bed with their owners. Because of their attention-seeking personalities, Siamese cats are often compared to dogs since they tend to follow their owners around and have been known to willingly walk on leashes.

Siberian Cats

Siberian cats are known to be incredibly affectionate and playful—eager to play with children and accepting of other household pets. This easy-going, social cat is often referred to as “dog-like” due to its devotion and constant companionship.

Always looking for an activity, a Siberian will play fetch, walk on a leash if trained, hunt, leap from one high place to the next and play in water if given the opportunity. This breed retains its kitten-like personality throughout life. There is some debate as to whether or not this low-shedding cat breed is ideal for a family with allergy sufferers.

Discuss with a veterinarian first if this is of interest to your family.

Dogs

Dogs are often considered the classic pet to get for your child. But it’s important to remember that no two dogs are the same, and each breed has a very different personality.

Some dogs are active, some are lazy. Some are patient, some are high-strung. It’s important to look into each possibility to find the best fit for your 7-year-old. Below is a list comparing some of the best breeds of dogs for your kiddos and family.

  • Dachshunds are a small to medium sized dog. They are often described as having a spunky and active personality, as well as being a loyal lap-dog. These are excellent dogs because they don’t shed, and they would make very good running partners. However, they can be aggressive to strangers, and can be high-strung. 
  • The Maltese is a small dog. They are sweet, gentle, and playful dogs, that aim to please their families. They are hypoallergenic, and are very gentle with kids. However, they can be delicate, and they require regular grooming. 
  • Boston Terriers are medium dogs that are often described as patient, loyal, and smart. They are easy to groom, and have minimal shedding. However, they can be prone to eye and breathing problems because of their short snouts. 
  • Pugs are small to medium sized dogs. Their personalities are often playful, gentle, and attention-loving. These dogs are not barky, and have medium shedding, making them easily groomed. However, they are prone to colds, breathing problems, and allergies because of their short snouts. 
  • Bichon Frises are small dogs that are playful, energetic, and tolerant. They don’t shed, and are very good with kids. However, they require regular grooming. 
  • The Keeshond are large, fluffy dogs with big personalities and a big aim to please their owners. They are playful and loving, with a moderate activity level. However, these dogs require lots of attention, and need regular brushing and grooming. 
  • Labrador Retrievers are a classic choice of a dog. These are large dogs that are smart, playful, gentle, and patient. They are good playmates with moderate activity levels. However, these dogs shed and need regular grooming. 
  • Golden Retrievers are another classic choice. They are larger dogs that are extremely gentle and patient. These dogs enjoy outdoor play and are extremely tolerant. However, they shed a lot, and need grooming. 
  • Boxers are large dogs that have a gentle-giant personality. They bond extremely well with children, and are good playmates. These dogs are smart and have average shedding, but may become boisterous if they aren’t exercised. 

Related Questions

Can I give a pet to a child younger than 7? It is not recommended to give pets to children who are under 7. Younger children lack the comprehension skills it requires to take care of a pet, and can often be too rough when handling small pets.

What should I avoid when choosing a pet for my child? It is best to avoid all animals that may pose a particular health or safety issue to your child. Avoid poisonous or aggressive snakes, aggressive dogs, and wild animals. 

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