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The "Starter Pet" Myth

What is a "starter pet"?

Starter pets are what parents often first turn to when kids start asking for an animal companion. They are believed to be easy for a young child to take care of, relatively cheap, and low-commitment. 

Why are hamsters and other small animals such common starter pets?

  1. Cage Size: Most pet stores perpetuate the myth that small animals can live in small cages. However, in reality, most small animals need larger enclosures

  2. Costs: People often believe that, unlike cats and dogs, small pets don't need vet care (spoiler alert: they do!)

  3. Lifespan: Many small animals have very short lifespans in comparison to dogs and cats, which means a shorter commitment for families

Why are these animals not great starter pets?

Many common starter pets are actually "exotic" pets and require more time, attention, and knowledge than a cat or dog. This means the children these animals are given to usually don't have the maturity level or dedication to properly care for their new pet. Also, pet stores that market and sell these pets don't adequately inform the new owner of the animal's needs, leading to a lack of knowledge that leads to both unhappy pets and unhappy owners.

What are some alternatives?

While small pets aren't the perfect starter pet, they can be a great start to pet ownership with proper care and awareness of their needs. Hamsters and other small pets can thrive in households with smaller children as long as they're properly cared for and supervised by a responsible adult. Younger children can learn valuable skills and life lessons from pet ownership.

Want to learn more?

Visit our Learn page to read about proper small animal care, or just click the button below!

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