You are thinking about adding a pet to the family, but you are questioning if you’re ready. Are the kids old enough to help with the responsibility? Can your schedule accommodate taking care of a pet? What kind of pet should you start with? 

Small pets are still a big responsibility, but they are sometimes good starting points to determine if you are ready for more responsibilities that come along with larger pets (like a dog, for example). Let’s take a look at a few family-friendly small pet options:


As mentioned, small pets still involve responsibility, and fish are no exception. You have to be willing to clean out fish tanks or bowls, adjust water PH levels as needed (depending on what type of fish you own), and study up on mixing certain fish in the same tank.

The plus side is that fish don’t require exercise! They don’t need training. They are fairly inexpensive to maintain after initial costs are covered. Plus, they are pretty to look at! 


A part of the rodent family, hamsters can make for great first pets! You may want to consult with a small animal veterinarian to determine which breed of hamster would be the best fit for your family. Different breeds tend to have different dispositions. Some tolerate more handling than others, so might be more suitable for a family with kids who desire to hold the hamster from time to time.

Besides that, they are very smart animals, and some can even be trained to do cool things (like use a little hamster-sized litter box for easy cleaning!). Be prepared to do a light clean out of your hamster’s cage about once a week, and a deep clean at least once a month. 

Guinea Pigs

Looking for something a bit bigger, but still in the rodent family? Guinea pigs might be for you. They tend to be pretty sociable animals, so they often enjoy time out of their cage with family members. Some of them are even cuddly! This makes them more ideal for a family with kids who want to be involved in pet caretaking, as most guinea pigs are tolerant of handling.

Because they enjoy company, you may eventually want to get them another guinea pig buddy to share their space with (if you have the time and means to care for two). Their cages can get a bit messy, so will need to be cleaned out thoroughly about once a week. 


As we move up the size chain, we arrive at rabbits! Rabbits make great pets, but there are also different breeds to consider. You should consult with a small animal veterinarian to determine which is the right breed for you.

Rabbits have a life span similar to many dog breeds (about 8-12 years), so they are a long-term commitment. Many rabbits are also sociable animals, which makes them ideal for families who want a pet to interact with. Rabbits are also very intelligent, and can also be taught some tricks as well as become litter-trained. 


When investigating any small animal option, be sure to do your research on a healthy diet that will keep them happy and any veterinary care they may require. With that being said, these are all fabulous choices for the right family when it comes to adding a smaller pet to the household!