Some children may see a fluffy bunny and automatically want to scoop it up and give it a tight squeeze like they do with their fluffy stuffed toy bunny at home. But small animals are not toys and should not be handled in the same manner that one would handle a stuffed toy. Owning a small animal comes with the responsibility to provide special care that differs when compared to the responsibilities of owning larger pets like cats and dogs.
Before bringing home a small pet, children and an adult should take time to learn as much as they can about the particular species that interests them. After researching the species’ needs for housing, diet, health and interaction, the family may decide that the species is not the small pet for them after all. “Not every child is suited for every pet – self control (noise and movement), motor skills, empathy skills and the ability to follow directions are important considerations,” said Evelyn Ivey, DVM, DABVP (Avian) at Four Corners Veterinary Hospital in California. “From the animal perspective, some are more tolerant of children than others.”
Educating yourself about a species beforehand also helps the family be prepared on how to care for the small pet and take some of the guesswork out of purchasing the correct supplies and housing accessories.
**For the full article, pick up the 2009 issue of Critters USA or click here to buy the issue.**