KidsInTheHouse the Ultimate Parenting Resource
Kids in the House Tour

Is Your Kid Ready for an Unconventional Pet?

For whatever reason, a dog or a cat isn’t enough for your kids.  They want something special: a boa constrictor, a wolf, a shark.  Reality is not a factor for their imaginations.  While you might have a difficult time obtaining their dream pet, there are other nontraditional pets that they’ll love.  There is a wide middle ground between dog and chimpanzee. This list is by no means exhaustive, but try to pair your kid up with the right animal.

1.The Athlete: A Horse

Alright, so a horse is not exactly an exotic pet.  They are common enough, but still rare enough that your kid will be envied.  Not only do they encourage exercise and plenty of time of outdoors, but owning a horse also establishes excellent work ethic.  They require a lot of upkeep.  Not every kid is built to handle that.  So besides making sure that your kid enjoys physical activity, you should honestly assess how responsible they are.  A horse isn’t like a puppy.  They require a lot effort, and they’re a hefty investment to boot. The horse alone is likely going to cost $5,000-$20,000.


On the other hand, horses can be incredibly rewarding pets.  Training a horse mandates a lot of time and effort, but when your kids look back at their accomplishments, they’ll know it was worth it. While you can play fetch with a dog, it isn’t the same degree of physical bonding as riding a horse.  Additionally, equine-assisted therapy has been used to treat multiple mental health problems, but spending time with a horse is an effective treatment for stress as well.

2. The Risk-Taker: A Tarantula

You might not be thrilled about this idea, but tarantulas actually relatively safe. Provided that no one in the house has an allergy, their bite is about as irritating as a wasp sting.  All the same, you probably don’t want to handle a tarantula too much.  This is not a pet for someone that wants to cuddle up with their friend after a long day.  While tarantulas are equipped with fangs and special irritating hairs, they are ultimately skittish and afraid of large creatures picking them up.  


Tarantulas are great pets for kids that want something especially exotic and maybe a little dangerous.  If they want to feel like  rebel, tarantulas might be a good go-to.  Who knows, exposure to these eight-legged critters might help you get over your own fears!

3. The Unconventional: A “Teacup” Pig

“Hold on,” you  might be thinking, “aren’t teacup pigs all over Facebook and Instagram?  How does owning one make my child unconventional?”  


Well, here’s the thing.  Teacup pigs don’t really exist, at least not like your newsfeed portrays them.  Really, they are potbellied pigs, which are miniature versions of average pigs.  However, the average farm pig is around 1,000 pounds… so a miniature version of that is around 100 pounds.  Far from the seven pound piglet prancing across your phone screen.  


So, if your kid still wants something truly unconventional, a potbellied pig might be the answer.  They are technically classified as “exotic” pets in the U.S, so you’ll have to check with your local laws to make sure that this is even an option.  Additionally, they are easily trained, on the same level as intelligent dog breeds, and are sociable creatures.  If your kid wants to have a constant companion, a pig is an excellent choice.


Of course, all of these pets take some extra effort.  Horses are perhaps the most intense, requiring stables and large pastures; tarantulas require minimal maintenance once you have them, but they need a cage and specific temperatures to keep them happy; and pigs can be especially destructive, like a puppy in overdrive.  When considering any nontraditional pet for your kid, realize that they are nontraditional for a reason.  Kittens and puppies take effort too, but not to the same degree.


The fact is, not every kid is fit to take care of these pets.  They come with an extra level of responsibility and require a certain curiosity to learn more, because many of their behaviors aren’t intuitive.  Owning one of these pets will require continuous research, but if your kid is really set on separating themselves from the pack… This can be a rewarding way to do it.  

Dayton Uttinger's picture

Dayton socializes for a living and writes for fun, all while caring for her ten year old uncle. Her rarely relevant degree gives her experience in political science, writing, Spanish, rugby, theater, coding, and spreading herself too thin. She will forever be a prisoner of her family’s business, doomed to inherit responsibility despite frequent existential protests.