Family Life


Household Pets


6 Animals That Make Great Family Pets (and 6 You Should Avoid)

Pug exercise

6 Animals That Make Great Family Pets (and 6 You Should Avoid)

Having a family pet has been proven to build up a child’s self-confidence, teach about empathy and positive relationships, and teach them responsibility. They are cuddly, cute, and definitely love attention. When it comes to choosing a pet, most families typically choose a dog or cat. Before beginning your search, it’s a good idea to learn the pros and cons of any type of pet. Let’s take a closer look at 6 animals that make great family pets and 6 you should avoid.

Firstly, when choosing a family pet, there are always factors to consider, such as:

  • Is it good with children?
  • Does it have a soft temperament?
  • Can I afford to take care of it?
  • Will it fit my personality?
  • How much space will it need?
  • Will I have enough time to give it attention?

1. Dogs

Dogs are usually the first choice for most families. These domestic dogs are known to be man’s best friend. Today, there are over 700 breeds of dogs in the world. A 2016 study showed that a third of worldwide homes have a dog as a pet. This shows that domestic dogs are the most popular pets. Domestic dogs are part of the same species known as Canis familiaris, making them different from wild canines like wolves, coyotes, and foxes. Furthermore, dogs usually live between 10 and 13 years. There are many breeds of dogs that are great with kids; however, three popular breeds that are wonderful with kids include:

  • Labradors: They love children, are clever, playful, affectionate, and get along well with other family pets.
  • Poodles: They have a lot of energy; they are kind, clever, and perfect for families with allergies.
  • Beagles: These dogs have cheeky personalities, and are energetic and naturally friendly. They also enjoy getting up to mischief with their small human buddies.

2. Cats

baby with cat. best  animals that make great family pets

Cats are the second-most popular pets in the world. According to Virginia Veterinary Beach Hospital, the purring sound from cats can help humans sleep, reduce stress levels, and lower blood pressure. Additionally, cats do not only purr when they are happy but also purr to calm themselves down when stressed. Cats are lower-maintenance and eat less than dogs. They don’t require you to take them for walks, as they do this all on their own and return home. Cats live between 13 and 17 years old.

Furthermore, cats do not need a lot of space. So, if you live in an apartment, a cat is a great family pet. They also self-groom, so you don’t need to bathe them often. Cats have scent glands in their paws, which is why they enjoy scratching and marking their territory. So it is best to make sure you buy a scratch pad for your cat to avoid them abrading your furniture.

3. Birds

Two Ringneck Parakeets Confronting Eachother in a Bird Sanctuary. Animals that make great family pets.

Did you know that there are more than 11,000 species of birds in the world? Choosing a bird as a family pet can be a rewarding experience. They are easy to take care of, are generally low maintenance, and do not cost much to feed. Budgies, also known as parakeets, are gentle, friendly, and easy to train. Furthermore, birds are loyal to their owners and can live for a very long time, sometimes over 100 years. When choosing your feathery friend, you need to think about how much room you can provide for them. Additionally, if you live in a small apartment, you may want to consider which species you choose; a loud bird might not be suitable.

4. Fish

Fish are great family pets for those who have allergies or are limited in space. These colorful creatures are generally low-maintenance and safe for little kids. Depending on the type and how many fish you choose, it is always best to make sure that your aquarium is an appropriate size. It can also be a fun activity for the family to do together when decorating the aquarium. Once you have your aquarium set up, speak to your fish breeder about which types of fish live well together. Goldfish and guppies are usually excellent breeds for first-time fish owners. Keep in mind that while fish are low-maintenance, they still need to be cared for properly. Clean water, balanced pH levels, a balanced diet, a decent filtration system, and proper lighting are what’s needed for your fish to survive.

5. Hamsters

Hamster poses for a portrait. Animals that make great family pets

Are you considering a small furry friend for your kids? Then a hamster could be a good fit. Hamsters usually live for about 2.5–3 years; however, if you are looking for a longer companion, you may prefer an animal that lives longer. Hamsters can entertain themselves for extended periods, provided that their home is equipped with proper bedding, toys, and opportunities for them to climb and burrow. They are usually happy little creatures and should have interaction and daily handling.

You should consider the costs involved. First, you will need a wire cage or aquarium, nesting materials (unscented sawdust), and paper-based bedding. Next, it will need food, a water bottle, treats, a nesting box, a food dish, toys, and an exercise wheel. Hamsters suit children over the age of 8. They require a soft, gentle touch, and younger children can be a little more rough. They might squeeze it too hard or accidentally drop it, causing it to startle and possibly bite. It is always best to supervise when young children play with hamsters.

6. Turtles

Turtles can bring a lot of joy into your family’s life and are more suitable for elementary school-age children and older. However, before bringing a turtle home, you should contact animal control to find out about ownership laws. Some states prohibit the possession of these creatures. Turtles may seem low-maintenance; however, they do have a long lifespan and need enough space to grow to lead healthy, happy lives.

You will need to consider the type of species, where you’re going to keep it, what type of food it will need, and safety precautions. Having said that, it is important to know that turtles can transfer Salmonella to humans, which can cause serious illness in the stomach. Children, the elderly, and immune-compromised people are at higher risk. If you are willing to take the time to maintain their environment with enough lighting, water filtration, and space and feed them correctly, turtles can be amazing pets.

Not all animals make great family pets; some can be dangerous or high-maintenance and belong in their natural habitat. In our next section, we will take a look at 6 pets you should avoid.

1. Tigers

Let’s start with the obvious: exotic animals like bears, tigers, lions, and wolves are potentially dangerous and belong in their natural habitat. It may seem cool to have one as a pet; however, these types of animals cannot be domesticated. Their needs are simply not compatible with ours.

2. Ferrets

Ferrets are small, long-bodied mammals with short legs. They are known for their playful and curious nature. Animals that make great family pets

Over the past few years, domestic ferrets have become popular pets. Before adding a ferret to your family, there are some factors to think about. Remember to first check local laws, as some states do not allow them as pets. These little mischievous, clever creatures are high-maintenance, so you need to be fully committed when looking after this pet. Ferrets are tough little animals; however, they can be prone to fracturing their limbs or spines when wriggling off a surface or out of your arms.

Additionally, they like to chew on small objects, which can be dangerous and cause a blockage in the intestine. They also need to have their ears cleaned and bathed regularly. Like all mammals, they can transmit and carry rabies and also contact canine distemper, which is fatal. Therefore, it is your responsibility to make sure they are vaccinated. They have sharp nails, so frequent trimming is a must. These energetic creatures also require a large cage and soft blankets. Ferrets require a meat-based diet because they are carnivorous. High-carb foods, fruits, and vegetables are not recommended. Ferrets also have sharp teeth and bite when startled. It might be best to avoid having a ferret as a pet with small children. 

3. Squirrel

Two Squirrels are in the forest and one of them is eating nuts. Animals that make great family pets.

You may have seen a squirrel in your backyard and wondered what it would be like to keep one as a pet. However, squirrels are not domesticated, which is why they aren’t good to keep as family pets. It is a lifetime commitment if you decide to adopt a squirrel, and they are super high maintenance. They lose their natural survival instincts once domesticated. These cute little animals enjoy hiding, climbing, and playing.

When preparing your squirrel home, make sure to move any small objects that can be knocked over. Lock away dangerous substances and chemicals. Put away any appliances it can climb into to hide, and cover any small holes. Always supervise your squirrel when it is around other pets. Squirrels can fit through chicken or rabbit cages, so it is best to create a mesh wire cage. Make sure it is big enough for it to run and climb in.

What’s more, squirrels are difficult to train. If you have a baby squirrel, you will have to help it go to the bathroom by softly massaging its bottom for about 5–6 weeks several times a day. Then try to teach it to use a litter box. Furthermore, when it comes to feeding your squirrel, it is best to feed it foods it would find naturally in the wild, like mushrooms, seeds, pecan nuts, and berries. While squirrels love junk food, too many cakes and other human snacks can upset their digestive systems. Like ferrets, squirrels have sharp claws and teeth. Furthermore, you need to provide squirrels with sufficient chewing materials. This is because their teeth always grow, which can lead to illness if they are not worn down. You wouldn’t be happy to discover that your new coffee table has been chewed.

4. Armadillo

Armadillos are unique animals with a natural armor called ‘scutes’ that protects them from severe weather conditions. They sometimes live in small groups, but they usually live alone. They are affectionate animals and enjoy being petted. Usually, around humans, they are relaxed and calm. Additionally, if handled incorrectly, they could do some harm with their strong claws. However, they do have some annoying habits, which makes them not the most desired pet. They eat everything and anything, climb into the trash, and love digging holes in the yard. In the wild, they live for approximately 12 years. Sadly, armadillos are vulnerable to pests, parasites, and diseases such as malaria and leprosy. You would need to do thorough research before committing to this pet. Armadillos need enough space to roam around and dig; they also require a pool to swim in.

5. Venomous Snakes

Rattlesnakes, cobras, African rock pythons, and other venomous snakes should not be kept as pets. Not only are they poisonous, but their upkeep can become quite costly. Some require food that is difficult to get, have bad attitudes, which can lead to a very fatal bite, and quickly grow much larger, requiring more space. All of these factors can make it more difficult for the average hobbyist. You definitely wouldn’t want it to escape from its enclosure and slither into your bed.

6. Alligators and Crocodiles

Many people believe that they can domesticate and train an alligator or crocodile. They are very smart and cannot be trained in a normal home setting. There are some reasons why you can’t have one as a pet. It’s illegal, and they get big. The average size of a male alligator is 11.2 feet; very large males can weigh nearly half a ton. They are dangerous hunters and can live for up to 50 years. Where are you going to put it when you don’t want it anymore? According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, since 1948, there has been a record of over 450 alligator bites on people in the state. 30 of those were fatal. Bottom line: alligators belong in the wild.

To top