Animal rescue associations have done a good job educating the public about this issue, and still, it never hurts saying it again – pets do not make good gifts. A cat, a dog, and even a hamster or a turtle, all require a great deal of commitment. They can be messy and smelly, and require cleaning after and a great amount of patience. Their life span is another consideration, making this a truly long-term commitment. Last, but not least, individual cats and dogs may have different character traits and need to be carefully matched up with their adopting families, something that is best done at the shelter with the entire family present.
Still, there is a way to surprise a kid with a new pet, one that won’t make any noise or smell and won’t require any training whatsoever. It is a great way to bring nature inside the children’s room for a season and no more. I’m talking about pet insects! There are several options out there, with ready-made beautiful kits allowing kids the experience of raising an insect from egg to adult, watching the fascinating life cycle. Working with the kid’s parents, this can become a wonderful lesson in caring for a pet, without unexpectedly committing anyone for 20 years of pet care. Who knows, with any luck, some kids may just adore looking after their pet, enough to convince their parents that a canine or feline friend is just what they need!
First, you have the classic ant hill – a great variation on the all time favorite ant farm, allowing for hours upon hours of careful observation of these fascinating creatures. It’s visually appealing and makes a great addition to any kids room. Most importantly, those ants are sealed inside, allowing the entire family to enjoy some ant watching without fear of a home invasion.
Fancy something prettier? I loved the Lady Bug Land kit, where you can grow over a dozen cute lady bugs from egg to adult and watch them in this nicely sculpted habitat. It even comes with magnifying viewing lens, so kids can watch the smallest of detail and share the experience. The habitat itself is so pretty, it reminded me of a doll house. What a great way to get kids to watch these creatures for hours on end.
And if that’s not pretty enough for you… how about the butterfly garden set? Those majestic flying critters can be a source of delight both as entomological subjects, as well as just beautiful fluttering pretty things you can stare at for hours. And just to clarify, no matter which insect kit you choose to gift, there are no live critters in there when you buy it. Inside your carefully wrapped gift lies a mail-in certificate for the larvae to start the amazing cycle of life with.