Kids love Exotic pets. Here are five of the simplest and coolest pets to get them started.
Kids love pets. There are no two ways about it. Parents are often concerned however for the pets well being when being given to a child. Making sure they get the right care, are handled well, fed, watered and cleaned up after can seem like more stress than its worth to a busy parent.
However, buying your child a pet can be a good thing in the long run. Owning a pet, in my opinion is a part of growing up. Looking after and caring for, as well as developing a bond with, a pet should be an important part of your childs life. Pets are always something you can look back on in years to come that will bring a smile to your face. Owning a pet can teach your child the importance of taking responsiblity for another creatures well being and many more things along the way.
When it comes to pets, people often go for the usual furry selection; cats, dogs, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, rats or mice. Where these are mostly great pets, they’re pets that everyone owns. Kids often look at exotic pets online and stare in wonder at some of the bizzar shapes, colours and sizes. Parents tend to stear clear of exotic pets though, not knowing anything about the care they will need and being too afraid to ask or research the information. The though of heating, providing UV lights and the animals diet can put people off of purchasing some of the most amazing pets your child could own.
Where as it is true that some exotic pets require specialist care and equipment, this doesn’t remain true for all exotic pets. Some of them are remarkably easy to care for requiring very little in the way of equipment and can be a lot lower maintenance than a dog.
So when it comes to choosing pets it can come down to a couple of things. You can opt for something that looks cool, the downside being that some of the cooler looking pets are often the least handleable. Or, you can go for something that can be handled and tamed. There are a variety of options but you should always remember that there should be rules when giving pets to children.
1. Praying Mantis
Praying mantids are cool, there’s no doubt about it. They’re an interesting shape, inspiring martial artists to mimic their posture and movement, and they can be facinating to watch. There are thousands of species of praying mantis, all with different care requirements. There are many however, that will eat just about anything they can grab (Flies, crickets, mealworms etc), and can live perfectly at room temperature and a spray with water once or twice a week. They can live in pint cups with netting over the top, or sweet jars with netting for a lid. The general rule of thumb is 3 x the length of the mantis for height and 2 x the length for width. Mantids grow by shedding their skin so it is important that they have something to hold on to like netting and ample space to do so.
Some of the more simpler choices of mantis are:
Asian Flower Mantis (Creobroter sp).
Found throughout Asia in rainforests, they can reach an adult size of 30 – 60mm.
Congo Green Mantis (Alalomantis Coxalis).
Found in the Congo in Africa, adults can reach sizes of 55 – 80mm.
Giant Asian Mantis (Hierodula Membranacea).
Found mostly through southern Asia, adults can reach sizes of 70 – 100mm.
Ghost Mantis (Phyllocrania Paradoxa).
Found in central and southern Africa, adults reach sizes of 40 – 60mm.
Geckos are small, cute and easy enough to look after. Not all geckos are suitable for reptile newbies so research into your chosen species is important. Geckos require heating via a heatmat or heat bulb. Although care should be taken that the gecko cannot get to the bulb if that is your chosen method of heating. They require a vivarium or tank large enough for them to move around in. Jungle species require height and logs or similar to climb on, but desert species need floor space and rocks to hide under. Geckos will live happily on locusts, mealworms, crickets or a combination of the three. They do require a calcium and vitimin dust or other supplement to ensure they stay healthy.
Two species suitable for children are:
Crested Gecko (Rhacodactylus Ciliatus).
These are a jungle species found in New Caledonia and come in a variety of different colours or morphs.
These are a desert species, found in dry grassland and desert regions of Asia. These can also come in a variety of colours or morphs.
Cockroaches have a bad reputation. There’s no doubt a bout it. This keeps people from purchasing them as pets as they believe that they can infest a house if they escape. This however is untrue. Most cockroaches that can be kept as pets are exotic and will not be able to surive outside of the tank provided for them. Cockroaches are the ultimate in low maintenance pets. They require very little, a tank, a suitable substrate, food and water. Their tank will not need cleaning as much as other pets as they are very clean animals.
Some species suitable for children are:
Madagascar Hissing Cockroah (Gromphadorhina Portentosa).
These are found in Madagascar in Africa and can reach sizes of 2 -3 inches as adults.
Headlight Cockroach (Lucihormetica Subcinta).
These are an impressive looking roach and can be kept in colonies.
4. Hermit crab
These are some cool crabs! They can provide hours of entertainment when watched and can become pretty tame when handled regularly. They don’t eat much, don’t smell, are extremely clean and are as quiet as mice. If only children were that simple!
The only problem with these is setting them up. They require fresh and salt water and quite a high humidity. Chances are the shop where you brought them was not keeping them in a healthy environment. But once your tank is set up and they’re introduced they should get more active and generally healthier.
Believe it or not, snakes generally one of the easiest exotics to keep. Although they could put Houdini to shame in escapism, as long as their tank is secure you should be fine. Snakes in the wild will eat small animals and sometimes other snakes. They can be fed prekilled frozen mice or rats that are easily available from pet stores. The majority of species kept as pets require floor space more than height. A water bowl, a suitable substrate, a hide and a heat mat are all you need for most beginner snakes. Although they may not be placid to begin with, snakes can easily become tamed if handled regularly.
Some species suitable for children:
Corn Snake (Elaphe Guttata).
These are found in throughout America and are constrictors. Adults can reach sizes of 4 – 6 feet and can live up to 24 years in captivity.
These can be found throughout the Americas and Canada. They can live up to 12 years and grow up to 5 feet.
Ball Python (Python Regius).
These can be found though out Africa and can reach sizes of 3 – 6 feet although generally they do not exceed 4 feet.
Although exotic pets can be very appealing and rewarding, it is important to remember that they may not be native to your country so they can be at risk from the natural climate. That is why care needs to be taken with them. Thousands of pets are killed each year by mistreatment and unsuitable captivity conditions. Research is important. Research the care needed for your chosen pet, research it with your child so that they feel that they are a part of it, and so that they know just what is needed for a good, healthy pet.
Also, it is important to remember to set up any tanks or vivariums before you get the pet. Temporary housing that the pet is brought home from the pet store in can stress the animal and cause long term damage or ultimately, death. Be prepared before bringing your animal of choice home.
Children should be supervised when handling animals both for theirs and the pets safetly.
With the right care, exotic pets can make extremely interesting pets. They can be the most fun to own and of course the coolest pet a child could own. Exotic pets aren’t just for children however, there’s something there for everyone.