Category: Pets For Children

Most children, love animals and rabbits, along, with hamsters and guinea pigs, are firm favourites.

Rabbits are cute and cuddly, however, they don’t always like to feel that all four feet are off the ground and therefore, sometimes, will scratch,.at that, I’m not suggesting that they are not a good choice of pet for a child, just that children should ALWAYS be supervised around any animal, not just pets. If they are handled correctly, by holding securely and having their legs supported, they will tolerate a small cuddle.


My two sisters and I, kept rabbits, when we were growing up and we looked after them extremely well, even if I do say so myself! However, I recall a time when we were very irresponsible, we often let our rabbits have a run around our secure garden and our parents, told us one numerous occasions, “NEVER,let them out together,”( they were housed in three separate hutches) but being children, we didn’t listen and did let them out together, to see what would happen really and you can guess what did happen,yes, they mated and several weeks later, we had babies, when we were questioned by our mum, I am ashamed to admit that we denied everything!

The main problem, with allowing your child, to have any pet, not just a rabbit, is that it may be just a novelty and they soon get bored with it, leaving their parents to feed and clean out the cage, or worse, the poor thing is left forgotten and neglected, living in a dirty hutch at the bottom of the garden, getting fat.

As an adult, I have owned several different rabbits, the most memorable being Billy, our giant continental bunny, He was huge in personality as well as stature and was even known to sunbath on the patio with our German Shepherd dog.



At the present time, we have two Cornish Rex rabbits, Fudge and Smudge, who live happily together.  They go out on the lawn, in a run, as often, as the weather allows, ensuring they get plenty  of exercise, we even give them’toys’ to keep them fit. They will jump into an empty cardboard box together, my husband has also come up with an idea of stuffing hay into an empty toilet roll tube to make them work for  food, he has made a hay net from sacking too and hangs it just out of reach to encourage them to stretch.

Several years ago, my husband decided he would like to breed rabbits. I was working as a child minder, at the time and the children loved the babies, a few of them, even managed to persuade their parents into letting them have one. Another time I was looking at baby rabbits in a local pet shop, to see how much they were selling them for. I noticed a family were also looking at them. I whispered, to the mother, “I have baby rabbits for sale, which are half the price and have been handled by children.” She asked if she could have my phone number, so I gave her one of my child minding business cards. She rang later that day and ended up buying two from us. Sorry to the owner of the pet store!

Rabbits teeth never stop growing, so it is important that they are given hard substances to gnaw on, we give ours apple wood, hay and bird seed, which they love. but make sure you don’t overfeed your rabbits, a fat rabbit will not be able to clean it’s self and will be  vulnerable to fly strike .

Another tip, from my husband again, is to keep an area in the hutch to use as a toilet. He has sectioned off an area with wood batons, see in photo,

but you could even use a cat litter tray, for really easy cleaning. Encourage the rabbits to use this area by  moving their droppings into it, hopefully the scent will do the rest.

If reading this, has made you decide that a rabbit is the correct pet for you, or your child, please consider  obtaining one from a rescue centre, North Devon animal ambulance is my local re homing centre,but there are several across the country, including some pets at home stores, who do an adoption for pets scheme, they usually ask for a £10 donation, which is still cheaper than a lot of pet stores.

As always, questions/comments are welcome.


Another instalment of my pets for children, this time it’s fish.

When I was a child my father kept a tank of tropical fish in the living room

. We were delighted when the guppies had babies, we gathered around the tank to watch them being born which was magical to begin with, the baby fish popped out of their mother one at a time rolled up in a ball they then uncurled and swam away only to be eaten by the other fish including their mother  we found this horrific to witness. The next time we had a pregnant fish dad  purchased a small breeding tank which floated at the top of the tank

he put the mother-to-be inside then as the babies were born they dropped through a slot out of harms way, when they grew they were realised into the main tank.

A few years later dad decided to go a step further and made a fish pond in the back garden this was a huge success and as he also included a fountain and small waterfall it made quite a feature

. The goldfish loved this large expanse of water, he then added some golden orfe

which were his pride and joy, unfortunately my father then came across a product which claimed  it would make the pond water clear enabling us to see our fish better, what he didn’t know was that it was not suitable for ponds containing golden orfe, we soon found out as the following day they were all floating upside down on the top.

On a similar subject my grandfather kept a goldfish in a small tank, one day while cleaning it he placed the tank complete with fish into the kitchen sink he then turned on the tap with the idea that the clean water would flow into the tank while the dirty water would over flow and run down the plug hole, the problem was my granddad had turned on the hot tap by mistake which killed his beloved fish.

Back to our fish pond, as children we went to a fun fair were we each won a goldfish from one of the side quarantined  them for a while saying that they would be dead by morning as the fair staff don’t treat them well, he was wrong two of the three fish lived for many years in the pond.

As an adult my husband  decided that he wanted to keep Oscars,

which are huge fish which I personally find ugly, he purchased an enormous tank which held 450 litres of water and stood 6′ high including the cabinet and stand  he bought two Oscars one lived for a few months the other we had for about 18 months,  my husband, Alec loved this fish and would prepare pieces of meat to feed it  as well as spending time watching it swim, while cleaning the tank once, which was quite a task considering how large it was he placed his fish in a bucket which he put in the garage away from the cat while he cleaned the green alga  from the glass inside. When the tank was clean he went to the garage to discover that his fish had commuted suicide  by jumping out of the bucket onto the floor. To say that Alec was upset is an understatement  he even said that he considered cooking and eating the fish as he had invested so much time and money into it!

If your child wants a fish as a pet, hopefully this won’t have put you off!  but please DO NOT house it in a gold fish bowl,  there is nothing sadder than seeing a fish swim round and round in boredom, get the largest tank you can afford and have room for and put in some plants which as well as looking attractive will enable the fish to hide, also buy a filter and a heater if you are keeping tropical fish, above all ensure that children are not tempted to overfeed their fish as this will lead to a premature death, keep fish out of direct sunlight and cover tank with a lid to keep out dust and cats

Above all enjoy and take care of all pets.

As always questions/comments are welcome








Continuing my theme on my experience of pets for children this time is for budgies.

When I was a child we had a fantastic blue budgie we named Kelly, although I think it was a male budgie as if my memory is correct he had a blue area above his beak, whereas females are coloured a pale brown colour.

. I have always been told that males are the best talkers although I know my husband would chose to differ as he claims no one can talk like a female!

Kelly was really tame and when he was allowed to fly around the living room would often come and perch on a shoulder

my parents would sometimes offer him a little of their tea on a teaspoon to drink.

Sadly Kelly managed to escape from his cage when my dad was cleaning it in the garage he flew out of the door and was never seen again.

As an adult my now ex- husband insisted on getting a yellow budgie so he could call it Custard, I wasn’t as keen as we had two small sons and a kitten to take care of. Anyway he had his own way purchased his bird and hung the cage from a bracket above the sofa in the living room  I think that when he put his pet into the cage was the last time he looked at it as as he never fed or cleaned it out that was left to me. Custard’s feathers would land along with the husks of seed all over the sofa.

I am now going to be honest and admit to what happened next. We had a few cross words about this and later that evening I went out for a few drinks with some friends from work, later I invited them back to mine for a coffee my ex was already in bed sulking, when one colleague commented on the budgie and said how much he had always wanted one having dutch courage from a little too many drinks I handed him the cage containing the bird then I found a screw driver and removed the bracket from the wall ( I did know this person well and was confident that Custard would be well looked after).

It actually took a week before my ex realised that his ‘beloved’ pet had gone and that was only when I asked him if he thought something was missing from the room, he replied “I know something is missing as the room looks a little bare, but I can’t think what it is!” Later when I told him about it  he didn’t seem at all bothered and it was never spoken of again six months later we bought a pet rabbit for the children who lived in a hutch in the garden.I have also written about rabbits as a children’s pet.

My grand father always had a budgie and they were always called Joey. I think there were half a dozen different Joey’s over the years. He liked to train them to talk and do little tricks, he taught one to push a tiny plastic dolls pram along the table with it’s beak.

Budgie’s can make a great pet for children, but please ensure they are given attention and always supervise children around all animals. For easy cleaning most cages come with a removable tray at the bottom. Supply clean fresh water at all times and keep the cage out of direct sunlight, your budgie may also appreciate a few toys such as a mirror in his cage.

. If you allow your pet out of the cage to fly around make sure all doors and windows are firmly shut and closing curtains will prevent them from flying into glass and getting insured. Enjoy all your pets.

As always questions/comments are welcome







Hamsters are often thought of as an ideal first pet for a child; they can make wonderful pets but beware that they can and may well bite. Hamsters are delicate little creatures, so as with all animals; children should always be supervised by an adult when around them to ensure the children are handling them correctly.

Sometimes children can be disappointed because hamsters are nocturnal, meaning that they may well be asleep most of the day when the child was hoping to play, and are awake all night when the children are ‘hopefully’ asleep!

My stepson had a hamster when he was growing up. He kept it in a cage in the corner of his bedroom. My stepson liked his sleep, so when the Hamster was awake at night, playing on it’s wheel; the squeaking noise kept him awake. He placed the cage complete with hamster and wheel in the bottom of wardrobe where he could no longer hear it. This was good in that it meant he could now get his head down, but not so good because his school shirt was hanging just in reach of the little critter and by the time the morning came, the bottom of Jamie’s shirt was in shreds in the hamsters cage! We removed the cage from his bedroom at night and placed it in the utility room.

My sisters and I had hamsters when we were growing up;, so I have a few tales to tell. Hamsters have to be kept apart (with the exception of certain hamster breeds) as they will fight. The cage I kept my hamster in had a dodgy door fastening and my parents had instructed me to place a heavy object against it to ensure it was safe; which I did, but somehow my hamster managed to escape. I was extremely upset and insisted that I had done as I was told, anyway, my parents must have believed me; as the next day they gave me an identical looking hamster. I put him in his cage and put the heavy item in its place to stop this one escaping, mum asked me if I had done that and I told her I had. An hour or so later the doorbell rang; it was our neighbour asking if we had lost a hamster as they had found one in their shed. Mum gave me a knowing look thinking that I had also let this one escape; but when we went to check he was sitting in his cage cleaning his whiskers! The hamster the neighbours had found was the original one; so now I had two hamsters to take care of! My dad cleverly divided the cage in half so the animals wouldn’t fight.

My sister’s hamster one managed to get out of its cage and we saw him disappear into the wood burner (luckily it was summer time, so it wasn’t alight) He managed to go in one side and scramble all the way to the other side where he emerged; he was white when he went in,  and black with soot by the time he came out! Other than being covered in soot, he was none the worse for his adventure.

Hamsters don’t live to a grand old age; 18 months to 2 years is average. When one of ours died, we were all upset. My dad would normally have buried it in the garden; but that day, we had heavy snow and frost on the ground, order not to prolong our agony any longer, he placed it in the bin outside. Christmas came and went and the bin became very full. The refuse collection men were also on strike; so dad had to jump on the bin contents to make more room. A few days later, while dad was asleep upstairs (because he was working nights) mum went to put some rubbish in the bin, when she removed the lid there was my “dead” hamster crawling along the top! She screamed so loudly that not only did she wake my dad, but some neighbours came to see if she was alright too. If a hamster’s temperature gets too low it goes into a sort of hibernation; which to the untrained eye appears to be dead. When it did die for real; we were too afraid to bury it and kept it in a box, in a warm place hoping it would revive. After a week we took it to the vet explaining the situation. He opened the box, held his nose and told us “It’s defiantly dead!”

When my children were growing up we lived in an old house. My youngest son decided to let his hamster have a run around his bedroom, the hamster decided to crawl into a small gap between the floor boards and disappeared. The following day while eating breakfast we were reminded of his existence when we heard him scurrying across the ceiling; the kitchen was directly under his bedroom. My husband cut a hole in the ceiling in order to get the creature out, but when he put his hand into the hole there was no sign of it; this continued for a while and several holes later he retrieved the hamster! Luckily my husband is at DIY, and successfully patched the holes in the ceiling. We gave our boys strict instructions; not to let pets loose in the house again!

Be careful that your children don’t overfeed their hamsters, they tend to store their food in cheek pouches and empty it later. To help keep hamster cages clean I placed an empty jam jar inside the cage and encouraged my hamster to use it as a toilet by placing his droppings in there. We also used to make hamster adventure playgrounds from cardboard boxes.

If you decide to get a hamster for your child; learn from my stories. Hamsters can be great escape artists; but also can make a fantastic pets if treated well.


As always, any questions or comments are most welcome.

I believe that children and dogs can be great together; if managed correctly.

When I purchased my German Shepherd puppy “Keira” she was 8 weeks old. I did a lot of research into her breed first (although I have always been an admirer of this type of dog, so knew quite a lot already) I needed a dog that would be good with children as I was a busy childminder at the time. My own children were now growing up fast, my youngest then being 13.

After phoning many breeders my husband, myself and youngest son set off in the car to see our puppy for the first time; it was very exciting!

When we met her she was in the back garden with 7 siblings and her mum. Keira’s mum was very laid back and didn’t seem bothered that we were handling her pups. I had a chat to the breeder about the temperament of the parent dogs (I had been told earlier that 70% of a dog’s temperament is through it’s genes and the other 30% by the way it is treated) She assured me that both parents had excellent temperaments and that she wouldn’t use them for breeding otherwise. This particular breeder was one of the good ones; she had paperwork to back up a lot of her claims, she was also Kennel Club Registered. I’m sure not all breeders are as good or honest as this, so do your homework first!

When we got Keira home; I enrolled her into a puppy party (your vet should have details of these) It is very important that puppies are exposed to many different experiences from a young age. Puppy parties are run by qualified dog trainers who will explain all about this.

While Keira was eating I would put my hand into her bowl, adding tasty morsels; the idea being that a hand near her food was a positive thing.

I spent a lot of time socialising my puppy, even before she was fully vaccinated I would stand outside of my son’s school at home time with her in my arms. Before long we were surrounded by children and a few teachers all wanting to stroke her. I also used to sit on a wall by my home beside a busy road with her on my lap so she would get used to the sight and sound of traffic.

One of the main problems with a puppy is mouthing (this is not biting as such, just a dog learning about new things by using his mouth; much like a baby) This can hurt though and the most effective way to prevent it is to squeal, like a litter would and then ignore your puppy for a moment.

Jumping up is another problem you will have to overcome. When your dog does this; turn your back (similar to the advice I have given on managing children’s behaviour, ignore the bad, reward the good.)

While I had minded children in my home I would keep Keira in the utility room, so she could have time on her own and not be pulled about by the children. I would let them play with her for short SUPERVISED periods so she could get used to them. When we went out we had to exit my home via the back door to get to the car, so I would put Keira into a Dog Crate with a tasty treat to prevent her from jumping up, and let her out once the children were in my car.

Ensure your dog stays healthy by taking him to a vet for his vaccinations get him neutered and treated for fleas and worms. Always encourage children to wash their hands after playing with animals.

I would trust Keira with my life, but I WOULD NEVER LEAVE HER UNSUPERVISED WITH CHILDREN even though my grand children and other young visitors love to play with her.

As always, comments/questions are welcome.

Cats and kittens can make great pets. Kittens especially look so cute and cuddly; which they can be, but they also come with a good set of claws ready to scratch if they are not happy about a situation!

Always supervise children around any animal. A kitten (or any other pet) can sustain a nasty injury if squeezed too hard or dropped by a child. Another thing to be aware of is the cat litter tray. Empty it often, and keep out of the reach of children (and away from pregnant ladies) Saying all this; if treated correctly, cats can make wonderful pets for both children and adults.

I have had several amazing cats in my life. The first was a tabby; we named Tiger. He was actually a stray, who appeared in our garden one day totally out of the blue. He was so hungry that he was eating the stale bread my mum had thrown onto the lawn for the wild birds.

Being a soft touch, we immediately fell for his charms and bought some cat food for him. That was it; he then moved in. Tiger was a great cat and we had him as a member of our family for many years, even bringing him with us when we moved from just outside Liverpool to North Devon. He travelled in the car with us in a cardboard cat carrier that we purchased from our vet.

One morning while, myself and my two sisters were still asleep my dad who was an early riser discovered a dead tabby cat which had been run overt at the bottom of our drive . Thinking it was our beloved Tiger; he dispersed of the cats body in a nearby field to save us from seeing him. Later that evening when he came home from work dad went into the living room to discover our cat warming himself in front of the fire; It wasn’t Tiger who had been killed at all!

As an adult; before having children, my husband and I decided to get a kitten. I chose a beautiful Tortoiseshell. We called her Purdy, she was my substitute baby and I loved her with all my heart.

As we both worked full time we installed a cat flap into the back door. It took Purdy a week or so to learn how to use her special door; but once she did it meant she could come and go as she pleased while we were at work.

Being responsible cat owners we got her vaccinated and she was neutered at 6 months of age; she recovered quickly from her operation but alarmed me when she managed to remove all her own stitches! I rang the vet in a panic who assured me that as she was so young she would have healed already so everything was fine. Sadly Purdy was killed by a car a year or so later; it broke my heart but we knew she had, had a good short life.

My next cat was a handsome black and white kitten. My son Adam (who was 8 at the time) named him “Socks” as he had four white feet which looked like he was wearing socks. Socks was 8 weeks old when we collected him from a farm and was very playful; his favourite toy was a ping pong ball. My son also made him a ball from scrunched up kitchen foil, which he skimmed across the floor. Socks would fly after it. There are many commercial cat toys on the market; but you can easily make your own from a simple piece of wool or even an empty cardboard box.

Socks liked to sit on top of my fridge freezer while I was a child minding so he was out of reach of the children; but had a good view of things going on, plus it was warm up there! Cats  like to go outside and hunt, so ensure they are regularly treated for fleas and worms. Avoid using flea collars, as any collar can be a hazard to a cat who likes to climb trees. There are elastic collars available which are said to be safe; but personally I wouldn’t risk them. Socks did come home one day, wearing a collar that someone had put it on him with a note attached containing a telephone number. I rang the number and the receiver explained that Socks had regularly been visiting them and they wanted to check  that he wasn’t lost. I told the person, that he was my cat. We later discovered that Socks was in fact visiting  many neighbours and walked into their homes uninvited as if he owned all the houses! Socks lived to the grand old age of 15 and became a bit of a legend; all the other cats were afraid of him and he even bossed my German Shepherd dog around!

If reading this has inspired you into getting a cat or kitten; please consider getting one from a rescue centre such as the RSPCA or the Cats Protection League as there are many animals looking for loving homes.

As always comments/ questions are welcome

I thought that as many parents may consider getting a pet to complete their family; I would share my experience of adopting a dog from the “Dogs Trust”

When our beloved German Shepherd; Keira, died we were devastated. We got her back in 2006; from an extremely good breeder. Unfortunately in 2007 I suffered a Major Stroke, meaning that all  dog duties fell upon my husband; whereas I had been the one to do it before.


My Husband; Alec, decided immediately after loosing Keira that he needed to get another dog, as soon as possible as he missed the walks. We looked into getting another German Shepherd; but then Alec thought that a small dog would be easier. He had owned a Jack Russell as a child, so decided to get  another of these. He started looking on the dog’s trust website and then went to the page of our local re-homing centre in Ilfracombe. There he discovered lots of photos of dogs; of various shapes and sizes all looking for homes. He contacted the kennels and made arrangements for a visit. Once there he was introduced to several different breeds of dogs that he liked, but when he was shown two16 week old Jack Russell brothers; they stole his heart. He told the kennel maid that he would like to give one a home…but which one? One of the puppies, named Bob, had already been reserved; leaving Jake for us. The Dogs Trust asked for details of our veterinary surgeon, who gave such a good report about us that a home visit wasn’t needed and we were approved as suitable candidates.

Two weeks later we brought Jake home, we paid £100 for him; which included a yellow dog’s trust collar and lead and a voucher worth £75 to cover the cost of getting him neutered. He was also fully vaccinated and micro-chipped. He settled into his new home immediately; the only slight problem we encountered was that he wasn’t keen on our cat called “Socks” who wasn’t overly impressed either! We soon overcame this.

After about a month we received a phone call from the Dogs Trust to make sure that everything was going well for both ourselves and Jake; which it was.

We have had Jake in our lives for almost two years now, he is a wonderful little dog who is full of character. He has quite a fan club in our neighbourhood, being loved by adults, children and other dogs. We always say that he was the one who rescued us; rather than the other way around!

I would recommend using the Dogs Trust to anyone thinking of getting a dog; all of their dogs are temperament tested and health checked before given for adoption…so how can that not be good?