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Exotic Pets for Children

August 15, 2014

Is your child just about ready to experience the joys of pet ownership, but not necessarily prepared for the large commitment of a dog or cat? Consider some exotic pet options. Here, a Thorold veterinarian discusses a few.

Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs often go overlooked as an exotic pet, but the truth is that they’re excellent starter pets for very young children. While you can’t exactly pet or cuddle one, they make a great introduction for basic pet care, and they’re fascinating to look at! Kids will love their intricate shell patterns. What’s more, they’re inexpensive and very low-maintenance. Ask your vet where hermit crabs are sold in your area, as well as information on basic care and housing.


These small lizards serve as perfect beginner reptiles. They don’t get very large—a few inches long at most—and are very easy to care for. They’re also not a long-term commitment the way some reptiles can be! Anoles will need supervision when they’re let out of their cage, though, because they can dart away quickly. If your children are aware of the proper handling and supervision requirements, an anole may work well.

Leopard Geckos

The leopard gecko is another very common “starter” reptile. They’re generally quite docile, and don’t have difficult handling requirements like other lizards. They’ll need a special housing set-up with heat lamps and high humidity, but if you’re prepared for the commitment they can make a great pet! Ask your vet for more information on the care of leopard geckos.


Rats may not be all that exotic, but they’re certainly unique pets. What you may not know is that they are quite friendly, social animals that can make great pets for kids. They’re not as skittish as mice or hamsters, and are therefore more easily handled by children. Since rats are usually happiest when paired with another rat, you should be prepared to potentially get two at a time.

These aren’t the only possible choices out there—check with your Thorold veterinarian for more great suggestions on exotic pet options!