Best for families with kids, even babies, and limited time and/or space. You can go as basic as a fishbowl with a couple of goldfish or set up a more elaborate aquarium. Fish need to be fed daily with fish food available at pet stores. The tank should be cleaned each week. Goldfish do best in water temps from 60 to 75 degrees F. Well cared for goldfish can easily live for five to seven years, and have been known to live as long as 30 years!
Best for families with even very young babies and limited time and/or space. It turns out they are more social than their name implies and do best in groups. Hermit crabs need a tank that maintains humidity (no lower than 70 percent, but no higher than 90) but lets in fresh air. They'll eat most foods and especially like fruit. Be sure to provide the crabs with larger shells as they grow. Properly cared for hermit crabs can live as long as 10 years.
Best for families with toddlers old enough to handle a pet gently. Turtles require a tank that is at least 40 gallons, and has a water and land areas with a sun lamp. The ideal temp depends on the breed, but in general, the tank should be kept at around 80 degrees F during the day and 70 degrees at night. Check with the pet store to determine what to feed your turtle. When properly cared for turtles often live 30 to 40 years.
Best for families with plenty of time and with kids old enough to handle a pet gently. Frogs are a fairly labor-intensive pet. They require a well-ventilated aquarium that's either all water or part aquatic and part land. The temp must be maintained with heat lamps. Frogs typically eat live mealworms, insects, and larvae. Properly cared for frogs have an average life span between five and 15 years.
Best for families with kids old enough to handle them gently. Hamsters require a roomy aquarium or cage lined with shredded newspaper or wood chips, which should be changed twice a week. Hamsters like having a quiet spot such as a tissue box to retreat to. Buy hamster feed and offer spinach, lettuce, carrots, apples, etc., and give them water from a hanging water bottle. Properly cared for hamsters live an average of two to four years.
Best for families with toddlers old enough to handle them gently. Guinea pigs require a well-ventilated aquarium or a mesh-screened cage. The bottom should be lined with shredded ink-free paper or hay, and changed twice a week. Buy special feed and offer spinach, lettuce, carrots, apples, etc. They need their nails trimmed every four to six weeks. Properly cared for guinea pigs live an average of four to eight years.
Best for families with even young babies, but kids should not handle the birds. Birds require a cage large enough for them to stretch their wings and make short flights. The cage should have horizontal bars for climbing and should be cleaned weekly. You'll need bowls for water and bird seed, and toys to keep the bird occupied. Life span varies by breed, but the average life span is 15 to 30 years.
Best for families with toddlers old enough to handle them gently. A rabbit cage should be four times the size of your bunny, with a solid (not wire mesh) floor and a litter box that should be changed weekly. A rabbit's diet should include quality pellets, fresh hay (alfalfa, timothy, or oat), water, and fresh vegetables. A properly cared for rabbit can live seven to 12 years.
Best for families with young babies. Cats require weekly litter box changes (so because of the risk of toxoplasmosis, it may be best to avoid getting a cat if you are planning another pregnancy), and regular vet checkups. Many cats are content to stay indoors so a backyard is not necessary. They require a constant source of water and daily feeding. The average life span for an indoor cat is 15 to 18 years.
Best for families with plenty of time, space, energy, and older toddlers. Dogs require plenty of affection and exercise, regular vet checkups, and occasional grooming, and need to be fed two to three times a day. Some breeds are better with children than others, so check out these tips on picking the perfect pooch for your family. Life span varies by breed, but the average is between 10 and 15 years.
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