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We took the leap and decided to get the kids a pet. There were considerations and research that went into finding the perfect pet.
Budget – How much is it going to cost to maintain a pet
Danger – does it bite? Are there any other health-related concerns? My son has allergies which really limited us.
Friendliness – We must have a friendly pet that would be able to interact to a wide age group
Care – can the kids take control and take care of the pet/s
Travel – We don’t travel a lot, but pets need to be taken care of while you are away. Can they come with us? Can someone else take care of them easily? Do they need to be brought to a kennel? What are the expenses?
We ran through the entire gamut from turtle to dog and listed all the positives and negatives of each. We finally settled on gerbils and here’s why. The top 10-reasons why I think they are perfect for families with wide age range children.
- Unlike hamsters, they don’t bite. They know their owners by sight, sound, and smell. They have keen senses. They are interactive, fun and very friendly.
- They are super cute. This goes without saying. They are small, round and cuddly with cute little faces and big bright eyes.
- They love to play. My 4-year old, 8-year old, and 12-year old handles them and plays with them daily. They put them in the ball, place them in a “play box” and cuddle them. Gerbils love to interact and are often seen crawling up the kids arms and sitting on their shoulders.
- They are fairly cheap to keep. They are inexpensive to purchase (only about $5-$7 each). Give them a hiding place, some bedding, food, a potty and some chew toys – and gerbils will be entertained for hours. They are happy – which is a good thing. You don’t need much. Occasional nut treats, pieces of banana, lettuce, and regular cheerios satisfy their sweet tooth. Make sure all houses or bowls are porcelain or ceramic because they will chew through everything else.
- They want to interact. They are fun. Almost dog-like.
- They do not smell. Unlike other popular small pets like chinchillas, guinea pigs, and rabbits, gerbils don’t smell. This was an important factor. We didn’t want our house smelling like feces. Gerbils are extremely clean and they use their food efficiently, so there is not a lot of waste.
- The kids take over. This was an important factor for me. I didn’t want to clean cages and such. The two olders keep them fed and their water replenished, scoop the potty daily and clean the cage twice a month. With a smaller cage, it’s easily cleaned and handled between the two of them!
- Their nails aren’t sharp. It’s fun to hold them and not something they dred.
- Gerbils will travel. If you put them in a smaller cage (costing approximately $10), they will travel anywhere where you go – easily and safely! They are part of the family! Just provide them with food, water, even temperature and time out to play. Of course you wouldn’t leave them in the car, but love the desk of a hotel room.
- They are smart. Gerbils are extremely intelligent. They can be trained easily to use a potty – so instead of cleaning the cage often, you just have to scoop the potty.
We love Hotrod, Twilight and Cheerio! They are an excellent addition to our family!
A comprehensive book on Gerbils – Gerbils The Complete Guide to Gerbil Care by Donna Anastasi has been an excellent resource for learning about everything “gerbil.”
Natural Paper Bedding
Dust bath for bath time!
Chew toys with a variety of kleenex boxes, paper towel/toilet paper rolls, undyed/unscented napkins/paper towels and kleenex will keep your friends busy for hours and keep their teeth short.
TIP: It’s best to get baby gerbils from a breeder. Box stores like PetSmart carry gerbils, but often times age and temperament are unknown. We have had a great experience with our three gerbils which were purchased from ABC Gerbils.
Are you thinking about getting a family pet?