Top 5 Exotic Pets for Kids

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There are many suitable exotic pets for kids available, but some are much better choices than others. Consider this list, along with the characteristics you are looking for in an animal, before making a decision on an exotic pet for your child.

  • 01 of 05

    Guinea Pigs

    Guinea pig
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    Guinea pigs are wonderful pets for kids for several reasons: they typically don't bite, they're not as fragile as the more popular hamster, and they're very low-maintenance. Guinea pigs live in a cage and eat grass hay, vegetables, and pellet feed.

    They live between five and eight years on average, which is much longer than other rodents. They are endearing and affectionate—they love to be pet and scratched. Some guinea pigs are quite energetic and even enjoy running around in a large hamster ball to get exercise.

  • 02 of 05


    Pet rats in cage
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    These rodents are so smart. They have unique personalities and love to play with toys and puzzles. Rats are hardier than hamsters and typically live longer, too. Rats don’t have the reputation for biting, which is an additional pro to this species. Rats eat a combination of fresh fruits, vegetables, and high-protein rat pellets or cubes.

    The biggest challenge with rats can be their appearance and stigma associated with uncleanliness. Rats are actually quite clean pets and groom themselves several times a day. And If you can get past the looks of their tails, then you'll learn to love them—and so will your kids.

  • 03 of 05

    Leopard Geckos

    Boy holding leopard gecko to nose, profile, close-up
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    These little lizards don’t require a large tank like other species do and are very docile for children to handle. They don’t have the tendency to bite, especially when raised from a several-week-old hatchling. Leopard Geckos eat live insects—they do not eat vegetables or other plants.

    Unlike other reptiles, they don't need fresh fruits and veggies prepared daily, and leopard geckos don’t smell. They're also very quiet so you don't need to worry about squeaky hamster wheels turning in the middle of the night. They come in a variety of different colors or morphs, which can be fun to choose from when selecting a pet.

  • 04 of 05


    Pet rabbit at home
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    There are so many different breeds of rabbits to enjoy, but the most common varieties are hardy pets for kids. They don't typically bite, and are fluffy and adorable. Rabbits eat hay, grass, leafy green vegetables, and a portioned quantity of pellets.

    Rabbits can be litter trained which makes cleaning their cages more idea. Some rabbits are quite social and even play with toys. These animals are also very quiet, making their presence a relaxing and delightful addition to your home.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Bearded Dragons

    Bearded dragon
    Bearded dragon. Getty Images/annedde

    Like leopard geckos, beardies are gentle creatures. A little hardier than the geckos, bearded dragons don’t typically bite and are the perfect size for small hands.

    These lizards love to hang out on a child’s shoulder while homework is being completed. They are very are quiet, don’t smell, and live up to 20 years. Once you have their enclosure set up appropriately, they don't require much management.

    Bearded dragons enjoy eating a wide range of insects, worms, leafy vegetables, and the occasional piece of fruit.

If you think you've found a good exotic pet option for your child, share the description with them and discuss the responsibilities that come with pet ownership. If both you and your child are serious about adoption, the next step is to take a trip to your local pet store to experience the animal you are considering. It's also an excellent idea to chat with other pet owners to get a better understanding of what it's like to care for an exotic pet.