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What pet should you get?

So you don’t feel regret.

Or go into debt.

From constant trips to the vet.

Okay, so that’s not what it says in the recently discovered Dr. Seuss book, “What Pet Should I Get?” but imagine how useful that would be! As parents, we often succumb to our children’s desperate desire (aka constant whining) for cute critters without proper research. Many pets will be with us for years, so understanding what’s really involved in their care and feeding is key.

Plus, no matter how much we tell ourselves that animals teach kids responsibility, let’s be honest about who’s really going to be keeping them alive: us. So we’ve reached out to real moms who gave us the straight, um, poop on their pets. Their answers may surprise you:


The good: Guinea pigs are “very cute and smart,” said Melissa W., who compared them to having small dogs. “They love to come out and play and interact with the family.” Also, they can eat fruits and vegetables, “So scraps are easily disposed of via guinea pigs!”

The bad: If they don’t get enough vitamin C (through drops and fresh fruit), guinea pigs can develop health problems. “One of ours broke a tooth, which led to an abscess and we had to put him to sleep. For several thousand dollars, he could have had dental surgery. We decided to pass on that.”


The good: When Jamie G. got a gecko for her lizard-loving preschooler, she had no idea they’d be such great roommates. “The gecko needs two lights in his cage—one for daytime and one at night. I think my son actually likes the fact that the lizard needs the light on at night. It’s like a nightlight for both of them.” Plus, watching the gecko change color from green to brown has been a fascinating lesson in camouflage. “Sometimes we can’t even find him because he hides so well.”

The bad: Geckos eat live crickets, which require their own cage, water and food. “Crickets have a pretty short life span,” said Jamie. “So I sometimes have to go to the pet store multiple times a week to get more crickets.”



The good: Hamsters are easy to care for (they eat hamster feed) and make sweet companions for kids, said Stephanie T. “My three-year-old son has the cage right next to his bed, so watching the hamster helps him fall asleep.”

The bad: “The hamster started using his little wheel as storage for food, so when he runs on the wheel, food (and poo) fling everywhere. We worry about the little poo bits interacting with a toddler who doesn’t like to wash his hands.”

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