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My son has guinea pigs. We've had them for 2 years so he was 4. We like the gpigs over hamsters, gerbils etc because they are bigger, harder to loose and harder to harm with little hands and they don't bite. They work for our family but I think it really depends family to family what's a good fit
I really thought about it one time, and came up with guinea pigs as a good first pet for a little one. We have a dog and cat, but we has them before we had kids. Maybe when Grace is 4 or 5 we might think about a pet for her.
We have 2 dogs and 5 chickens... I love animals and they were here before the kids, but I think it's a great thing to be able to get kids their own pet when they are about 5. It really teaches compassion...maybe a little young for responsibility (minor though), but compassion for sure.
We have a dog and 3 cats. We don't plan on anymore pets and nothing specific for L. Maybe when he's older like teens he could have something he's interested in but I don't see a guinea pig or the like working out in our house (or living for more than a day with our hunting cats). I never had anything but dogs or cats growing up.
My brother got my son (with our permission) a hamster last year for his 3rd birthday. While it wasn't a bad idea, DS really couldn't have cared less about little Dash, and the stupid fuzzball liked to bite and wasn't into any of the "toys" I bought for him. Dash went to the great wheel in the sky last week (or maybe 2 weeks ago now), which is about 11 months after we got him. James was sad for about 5 minutes and hasn't mentioned him again, even when walking RIGHT by all the equipment in the garage multiple times.
DS *think* he wants a dog. I sure as heck don't want a dog. We could barely get DS to help us feed the hamster or watch him in his hamster ball while we cleaned the cage, so actual responsibility is a ways off yet. I'd consider getting fish in the next year or two because they are also cheap and easy, though cleaning the tank is such a pain.
I prefer no pets- not for a looooong while! The kids can have pet rocks.