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choosing a pet

Discussion in 'Personal' started by cariad2, Jul 31, 2012.

  1. cariad2

    cariad2 New commenter

    Cariadlet had been wanting a pet for years (literally). Although I love animals, I've always said no to her, because we are out all day (so it would be cruel to have something like a dog, which is a pack animal and needs company), and because we go away most holidays.
    I've told her that it would be unfair to expect her grandma to look after her pet whenever we were away. However, when we popped round to see her grandma today, Cariadlet took it upon herself to ask if she'd look after her pet when we were away.
    Her grandma said that she would be happy to look after an animal if it was one that could be kept in a cage and taken down to her. So now I've said that I'll think about it.
    I'm still not sure whether to let her have one. She's 9 years old, so old enough to have the animal as her responsiblity. She'd have to feed it, handle it and clean it out. She insists that she wouldn't get bored, and would look after it, but I'm not convinced.
    Have any other posters had experience of children this age and pets? How long does it take for the novelty to wear off? How much nagging to they tend to need to take care of their animals?
    If I do give in, what would be the best animal to choose?
    She's keen on guinea pigs, but my understanding is that they need a nice big outdoor run. We've got the space, but I don't know if (and how) we'd have to foxproof its home: we have a fox that we feed and also another couple of foxes that sometimes pass through, one of which recently took 2 of next door's chickens.
    I'd want an animal that would like being handled, and would be OK to be left all day (on average, we're out from 8 in the morning until 6 in the evening). I worry that an animal on its own would be lonely, but 2 together would fight (or mate, if we accidentally got a male and female).
    I don't like animals being sold from pet shops (they always seem to be in tiny cages, and I don't think it's right to breed animals when there are so many unwanted animals around), so I'd have to try and find a rescue centre near me that has small animals for rehoming.
    Sorry that this ended up being such a long post. Thanks for your patience if you managed to read through to the end.
  2. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    I had a hamster when I was that age. Perfect pet if the child gets bored as they don't live that long.
  3. dozymare1957

    dozymare1957 Occasional commenter

    Not all children lose interest in their pets. It sounds like Cariadlet is prepared to be responsible for her pet so I wouldn't worry about that too much. If she does go off it, donate it to the school!
    You can get things like hamsters and gerbils but I believe they sleep in the day and are awake at night so not very interesting and they don't live very long which can be hard for a child to deal with.
    Anything that lives in an outdoor cage is no good as it can't be transported easily - rabbits and guinea pigs stink if you don't clean out the hutch every single day.
    Snakes, lizards, tarantulas - well what can I say? Not my cup of tea and I wouldn't fancy cuddling one.
    Fish? Not very cuddly.
    Suggest that you pay the money that it would cost to have a pet for 8 years (food, vet bills, etc), into a bank account so that she can buy herself a car when she's 17!

  4. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    My guinea pigs have always lived indoors. You get a LOT more out of them when you are living in close contact with them. Their noises are very communicative, and you get to know exactly what they want.
    I put them out on the grass during the day in summer in reasonable weather.
    I would recommend guinea pigs, and I think she's at a good age for handling them confidently too. They are easier than smaller rodents such as rats and hamsters, are tame and rarely bite. In fact, over (approximately) 10 guinea pigs in my family, we've had 2 bites - and one of those was a trimming of a fingernail!
  5. Victoria Plum

    Victoria Plum New commenter

    I would echo lilachardy's comments about guinea pigs as well! They are super animals - very sociable when kept iindoors too! I used to let mine have a run around the kitchen for some exercise! Hamsters sleep all day and just don't become as friendly as guinea pigs can if handled often and gently. They make wonderful noises and it's really easy to interact with them. Go for the Squeakies!! :)
  6. cariad2

    cariad2 New commenter

    Thanks for the replies so far.
    I've also been looking at the RSPCA website.
    A hamster looks a possiblity, as they are happy to live on their own, and one could have a temporary small cage for holiday visits to grandma.
    On the other hand, guinea pigs seem to be more interesting.
    How many guinea pigs do you have at any one time? How big does their home need to be? Would it be practical for them to be in a smaller cage when we go on holiday, or would they get stressed? We go away during most school holidays, and in the summer we sometimes go away for 4 weeks, so that would be quite a long time.
  7. Victoria Plum

    Victoria Plum New commenter

    I have four at the moment!! And two visiting ones from a friend who is on holiday!! LOL It IS best to have two as they like the company of each other. I often move mine into a smaller cage for various reasons and they seem quite chilled about it. Even the larger indoor cages are easy to manouvere (sp??) about though. My visitors are in a sizeable cage which I am managing single-handedley to move inside for the night - they are outside under the rain canopy during the day, keeping MY squeakies (in their luxury two-storey home!!) company! I'll look after them for you, cariad, when you go on holiday!! Maybe I could start up a boarding house for guinea pigs?!! (Aplogies for my awful spelling and grammar - and possible made up words! I am VERY tired this evening!!)
  8. We have 2 guinea pigs - Credit and Crunch. They have a hutch, then a separate enclosure on the grass in summer. They come indoors at times. They are very friendly and their 'chatty' noises are great fun.
    BUT, how near is their other holiday home? They would need to be moved carefully.
    With a regular fox in your garden, I am not sure I would recommend an outdoor pet.
    Hamsters are not sociable - they like to live alone, and are nocturnal.
    Gerbils, on the other hand, like to live in pairs, and tend to be very friendly. My son's pet gerbils were extremely sociable. He also took them on holiday with us. They need a specialist 'home' with several centimetres of depth as they like to burrow in the shavings. We have 2 - one glass and one plastic - as all our smallest pets died in the last year.
    Sm,all rodents do not live much longer than 3 years, on the whole, while guinea pigs are longer.
    If you want a rescue pet, loads of rabbits are in need of proper, caring homes; and thaey can be indoors or outdoors
  9. cariad2

    cariad2 New commenter

    Thanks Victoria Plum, that's all really helpful. It sounds like guinea pigs are the way to go. I'll see what Mr C thinks. We're going on holiday in a couple of weeks, so maybe I could look into it more before we go, and maybe get some when we come back.
    It's Cariadlet's birthday in September, and I've always said, No, she won't be getting a pet for her birthday. Maybe this year her wish will actually come true.
  10. cariad2

    cariad2 New commenter

    Their holiday home is only in the next street! I'm lucky enough to have in-laws that live very close.
    Mmmm, now I've got even more options to consider. I'm not sure what would be best.
  11. Victoria Plum

    Victoria Plum New commenter

    Aw! That would be SO lovely!! I brought home the school guinea pig - Weetabix! - for a week when I was in Year Six. I have had guinea pigs ever since! They really are gorgeous! :)
  12. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    I've had up to 3 at once, and based their housing on the www.cavycages.com website. Bigger is better, obviously, but you have to be reasonable!
    They don't mind being put in a carrier in the car, being driven for three hours then going in a different cage when they get there either. they take most things in their stride.
    If you've ever heard a guinea pig sing, you are truly lucky. I cannot describe the sound!
  13. scienceteacha

    scienceteacha New commenter

    I agree with the hamster/guinea pig idea.

    Also, this is going to sound harsh, but choosing a pet with a short lifespan ie. a hamster) teaches kids a valuable lesson about mortality, if none of their relatives have died since their birth, it is a horrible fact of life that a dying pet will allow your daughter to confront the issue.
  14. I don't know anything about guinea pigs, but I would certainly advise against a hamster.
    Ours was a cute little thing, but was horribly unfriendly. We couldn't handle him at all and he drew blood on several occasions when we tried (we followed all the handling advice given to us by the pet shop). His cage stank and needed to be cleaned on a daily basis and, worst of all, he only lived for a year. I have got friends who have had sweet, friendly hamsters, but they were all female. That might be something you'd wish to consider.
    I think cats are easier to manage. They're independent, very clean and affectionate. Mind you, I've just spend over £50 on booster immunisations, so they aren't cheap. They can also live for up to 20 years - I think that is an advantage, but you might not!
    PS Before you all say it, the hamster was when we were 'between' cats.
  15. sparklepig2002

    sparklepig2002 Star commenter

    I would recommend guinea pigs! (no surprise there!!) We currently have two. They need company and any good pet shop, rescue centre would not sell one on its own. They are delightful little creatures. Ours live in doors because of the local cats and foxes and have an out door run for when the weather is nice. They are part of the family-they squek when they hear me coming down stairs, they squeak when the fridge door opens, they squeak when I rustle a bag-all food related! They love to be cuddled and stroked and they puurr and chirrup. They will sit up on their hind quarters and "beg" if I wave a spinach leaf above them. I used to go up to Yorkshire whith my children every school holiday to see my parents-(a three hour journey) the guinea pigs came with us! My mum bought a collapsible run that we used in her garden and we made a big indoor cage out of big cardboard boxes. They seemed to enjoy their holiday just as much as we did-perhaps Yorkshire grass is particularly yummy!
    They do not smell, they do not bite, they love attention, they have their own definite personalities and I love them!! If you treat them well they are perfect little pets.
  16. I'll add another vote for getting her a pair of guinea pigs. They're the most sociable small pet that you can get. :)
    Having pets and being responsible for them is a good life lesson. Your responsibility for them doesn't go away because the novelty runs out etc.
    My Mum came up with a brilliant way of re-enforcing this. We were warned when we had our first pets that we were entirely responsible for them. We were also told that if we didn't feed them or clean them out, then we wouldn't be fed or have our washing done etc. We forgot to feed the pets one night - we came downstairs at dinner time to find that we didn't have any dinner! I was 8 at the time, my brother was 6. It was a shock - but we never forgot to care for the pets again.

  17. PlymouthMaid

    PlymouthMaid Occasional commenter

    Another vote for piggies. We had them for years and they were much loved.They lived indoors in a long hutch and came out and pottered around the living room sometimes. We tried hamsters and that was traumatic - one bit the pother ones head off and my daughters discovered it first.The survivor was known as 'killer' for his remaining fairly short lifespan and looked at with great fear.
  18. cariad2

    cariad2 New commenter

    Thanks for all the replies. They're really helpful.
    I'm going to measure up to see if we have enough space to get a decent sized guinea pig hutch.
    I love that idea. I've just told Cariadlet this anecdote and warned her that I'll do the same IF she gets a pet, and if she neglects it. She looked at me, and then said "but you wouldn't really do that to me would you", and was quite shocked when I said that I would, and when Mr C nodded in agreement.
    I'm definitely veering towards getting a couple of guinea pigs (if we have the space) as there are so many piggy lovers on here.
    The other animal I've thought of is a rat (although I'm not sure what Cariadlet's grandma thinks about rats, and it needs to be an animal that she'd be happy with as she'll be looking after it whenever we're away). I had a couple of friends who had rats when I was a student, and they always seemed very friendly.
  19. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Guinea pigs are lovely but have you thought about a chinchilla? I think you'd need 2 chinchillas as they like company but they can be fantastic pets.
  20. cariad2

    cariad2 New commenter

    I'm still not 100% sure, but (when I find where we've put the measuring tape) I'm going to measure out and see if we've got enough space for a guinea pig run. I've just been looking at various pet websites,and although there are some reasonable outdoor runs, the cages for indoor guinea pigs are awful - they're all so small that it would be cruel to keep piggies in them.
    So where do all you guinea pig lovers get your cages from? Also, what are they made of? I think that wooden ones look nice,but Mr C thought they'd probably be unghygienic because the wee would soak into the wood.

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