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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello! I am looking to get a pet for my 7 year old son. I want to start with something low maintenance. We saw hedgehogs at a pet store and he is in love. I have to admit that they are adorable! But I've been told that a Guinea Pig is friendlier. What do you guys suggest?
 

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Is he good with handling pets? And I mean, actually GOOD about handling pets. Gentle touches; no grabbing or pinching, secure hold...etc etc.. I don't know much about hedgehogs, but guinea pigs aren't a good pick for children that are inclined to drop them/lose interest quickly. Guinea pigs are quite fragile and can break their backs easily. Not to mention guinea pigs are quite social and you should definitely get 2 or more, and they're not quite as low-maintenance like a lot of pet store clerks might lead you to believe. They need hay 24/7, supplemental servings of a daily variety of veggies, and Vitamin C-fortified plain pellets every day. They LOVE making noise. 7 years old is school-age; and thus they could easily interfere with him and his schoolwork. They'll squeal every time they hear the refrigerator door open, a plastic bag rattle... They LOVE making their little noises. It also isn't easy to litter box train them. so when you have them out and running around for free-run, you'll have to clean up later.
 

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personally i think hedge hogs are more interesting pets. plus they will hunt all the bugs out of your house!

I think they are fairly nocturnal though so i wouldn't have the cage in his room or it will possibly keep him up all night.
 

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Guinea pigs are not low maintenance or cheap to take care of. The only thing that i know about hedgehogs is that it cost a lot more to buy one hedgehog than it does to buy a guinea pig.
 

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she-mayor of Whoville
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It really depends if your son wants a cuddly, friendly, social pet, or not so much. With hedgehogs, personalities can be molded to be more friendly, but sometimes you just end up with a stubborn hedgehog. I was told good advice when I was young and got my first hedgie;

Every day is a new introduction to your hedgehog, it's like, they are rediscovering you all over again.

With that in mind, go slow with a hedgehog, don't force him/her to be social by keeping him up long hours during the day (they are very nocturnal).

THat is why I worry the hhog might end up not being the best choice... he/she will sleep all day, be somewhat cranky when woken up during the day, will keep looking for a place to hide until they do, then they will go back to sleep! At the same time, the spikes have a minor skin irritant on them (aside from being spikey!) So you might want to handle a hhog first and see if you break out in a rash or are only minorly bothered by it.

But, a friendly and social hedgehog who gets lots of playing time in the evening can be a fascinating and hilarious pet!!!

And yes, they will hunt down and eat all your gross insects and spiders!!!

And it seems that from what was said above, the initial cost of a hedgehog will probably be greater (they cost around $100 dollars, and you need a big cage with a big wheel and toys) but then you also need appropriate bedding, high quality cat food, and fresh fruit and veggies to feed the hedgehog. The only major health concerns are skin problems (mites, quills falling off) and tumors but with good care and frequent cleaning out of the cage/toys, you should have no trouble. But by and large, hedgehogs are NOT high maintenance, and many hhogs actually love being somewhat independent :D For example, my Izzie gets fussy if I take her out every evening for play.. it's just not fun for her. But she does like getting out every other evening, because by then she is tired of her house, bored of her wheel, and wants to see what new crap has accumulated on my carpet! :3


I'm not sure about owning a gerbil, so you will have to get advice from gerbil experts on that :D
 

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What do you consider low maintenance?

Even pets that are normally considered easier to care for often times have a lot more maintenance and cost involved than your average person may think.

How is your son with animals? 7 is still young IMO to be trusted to care for a pet alone. Not saying that you shouldn't get him a pet, just that you should go into it with the understanding that you're probably going to have to at least help out if not do most of the work caring for the pet. Not to mention that a 7 year old probably doesn't have the funds for vet visits and supplies.
 

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You COULD do a google-search for a list of low-maintenance pets, but keep in mind those lists are biased. I personally consider low-maintenance to be anything that can be litter-box trained, doesn't require a special diet, and can more or less take care of themselves either independently or within a group. But that varies person to person.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you all for your advice. My son is gentle with animals. However, he is only 7 so I know he needs to be supervised with the animal. I am also aware Of the fact that most of the care will fall on my shoulders. He's an only child so I know that what he is looking for is a ``Buddy``. I also don't plan on keeping any animal in his bedroom.
 

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If your son really wants a hedge hog, then he should get one. Guinea pigs are good pets, but it takes a lot of time for them to get used to you and being handled. It's something that you have to work on every day. I hope that your son finds himself a great pet that will be a good fit.
 

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Since small caged animals are easy to get bored of (thinking like a kid) and the maintenance can easily overwhelm you when you have other things to do I would recommend a cat or large breed dog.
Even a small fish tank can become more work if it doesn't have a filter. I clean my 3 gal every week with another partial water change mid-week. What 7 year old wants a part of that??
My 7 yr old neice LOVES animals, is gentle and wanted her own pet. She got a betta and already wants another (bc she's bored with the one she has) and wants a rat and a cat. It doesn't stop. They're just at that age. A small pet would become YOUR pet.
SO re-phrasing your question, what pet would YOU like to take care of and have your 7 yr old help out??
 

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she-mayor of Whoville
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Some hedgehog fun:

Izzie's bath time (to keep her skin moisturized, to help prevent mites and loss of quills, to clean feet and toes, and later to make clipping toenails easier)



Izzie dragging gross laundry across the ground (they love nasty smells)
http://youtu.be/zUm9HmAi3CU

Izzie's huffing and balling up, and then unballing herself :D
http://youtu.be/gclFw9G7KUg
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you all again for your input. After considering what some of you wrote, this weekend we got a Hedgehog!!! Sonic!
So far he is doing great. My son is so happy, although I have to admit mom is pretty excited to. :) I'm sure I'll have lots of questions, I'm glad I found this fourm to get information.
 

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she-mayor of Whoville
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Cool!! Yay Sonic!!

Let me know if you need any advice! (pics soon? :D )
 
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