What bugs make great pets for kids: The 7 coolest pets

Are you considering a pet for your kid? Don’t want to have a pet that cost much time or space? Did you know that bugs make great pets too? Having a pet for your kid and family is exciting and can be rewarding. Bugs are easy pets that are low-maintenance and are therefore perfect for kids!

Why make bugs such great pets for kids?

  • Most bugs are safe for young kids
  • Bugs don’t cost much time and effort for their care
  • Caring for bugs is rather easy
  • Keeping bugs don’t require much space
  • Bugs have modest food requirements
  • Most bugs are short-lived (1 or 2 years), and make less long commitments
  • Bugs are cheaper than regular pets like dogs and cats

Reason enough to choose a bug as a pet! There are even more reasons why your kid should have a bug pet to care for. Read all about it in the article ‘Why every child should have a pet insect‘.


Disclaimer — Although we suggest that these bug pets are suitable for kids, the care for these bug species need to be supervised by the parents (at least at the beginning). Also, it is for the parents to make the keeping and housing of the particular species suitable and correct, so that all needs are met. Only this way, you enjoy happy and healthy animals.

The 7 coolest pets for kids

What makes bugs cool? Bugs are different. They can have beautiful colours and strange shapes. They have interesting and some bizarre behaviour. Creepy, you say? Not at all! They are most interesting and are actually amazing to have. Your kid will have a great pet when keeping bugs.

In this list, we will discuss the 7 coolest bug pets for your kid and why they make such a great pet. Let’s check them out!

How to set up a stick insect enclosure

My #1 recommended pet for kids: Stick insects

I can recommend every parent to let their kid have stick insects. Stick insects are fantastic pets. They are safe, docile and you can handle them when careful.

Stick insects have a great story about camouflage and how you can adapt to your surrounding. When sitting still between leaves, you barely see them. Stick insects have a lifespan of around one year. Although this sounds very short, most of them breed quite easily. If you keep them well, you can enjoy them for many years. And if your kid doesn’t want to keep them anymore, you can throw away the eggs, and within a year it is done — no longterm commitments.

One of the most popular stick insects is the giant prickly stick insect. These rather large stick insects don’t have high requirements and are one of the easiest insects to keep at home. They are bulky and heavy, which make them less fragile than some other stick insects. The Indian stick insect is also a good pet for kids.

Read here more about keeping and caring for stick insects and leaf insects.

Pros

Are very easy to keep
Don’t cost much time
Are docile and easy to handle
After initial cost are very cheap
You only have to feed them once a week
Stick insects are safe: they don’t bite and are not poisonous

Cons

Stick insects can be fragile
Are nocturnal, most active during night

#2 Madagascar hissing cockroach

Many people think cockroaches are creepy and scary. Although some cockroaches are considered pests, many of them actually make great pets. They are closely second, and together with stick insects make one of the best pets for kids.

The most popular is the large Madagascar hissing cockroach. Not only does it grow to a stunning 3″ (7.5cm), these cockroaches are beautifully coloured. These cockroaches are also called ‘hissers’, because of the hissing sound they make. Maybe at first, it sounds a bit scary, but these cockroaches are not dangerous at all.

Another cockroach species that is a great candidate to keep as a pet is the giant burrowing cockroach. It has many similarities with the Madagascar hissing cockroach, but this one even grows a bit larger.

Both are very docile, sturdy and can be easily handled, and they don’t fly and jump — that makes them excellent pets for kids.

Pros

Are very easy to keep
Don’t cost much time
Are docile and easy to handle
After initial cost are very cheap
Hissers are safe: they don’t bite, don’t sting and are not poisonous

Cons

Need to be fed every other day
Have higher requirements for temperature
When doing well, they may reproduce soon and you may have (too) many roaches

#3 Giant millipede

It is fascinating to see that many legs waving when a millipede walks by, crawling around in its enclosure. Giant millipedes is another bug that makes a great pet. Although many people think it’s an insect, it belongs to the arthropod genus.

Millipedes resemble worms on legs. Slowly they wander around in their enclosure looking for food or on exploration. It is amusing to observe. Millipedes are calm, docile, and can carefully be handled. When they rest, they curl into a tight ball. Caring for giant millipedes is rather easy.

They are not harmful to kids, but they can secrete a foul-smelling fluid that can mildly irritate the skin, but that only happens when feeling threatened.

The most popular species that are kept as pets are the giant African black millipede, the scarlet millipede and the bumblebee millipede. Be aware that giant millipedes can live for 5 up to 10 years. So having them as a pet is a long-term commitment.

Read here more about keeping and caring for giant millipedes.

Pros

Are quite easy to keep
Don’t cost much time to care for
After initial cost are quite cheap
Can carefully handled and move slowly
Many giant millipedes are beautifully coloured

Cons

Have higher requirements for temperature
Can live up to 10 years, so it’s a longterm commitment
Can secrete an irritating fluid when feeling threatened
Are nocturnal and will be active mostly during night
Photo by Welbeck Primary School

#4 Giant African land snail

African snails are often kept as a pet at primary schools. And it makes sense. They are great pets for kids and easy to care for without high requirements. But you can also keep them at home.

These are real giants, where some snails can grow up to 8″ (20cm). These sturdy heavyweights are therefore very cool to see. Although they are large and slimy, they don’t pose any danger to kids. They are calm and slow-moving.

However, these giant snails have a large appetite. They need quite a large amount of leafy greens. It is fascinating to see how they nibble all the food away in a rather short time.

There are more suitable snails to keep as a pet, but these giant snails are the coolest snails of them all.

Pros

Are quite easy to keep
Don’t cost much time to care for
Can carefully handled and move slowly
Are active during day

Cons

Have higher requirements for temperature
Can live up to 6 years, so it’s a longterm commitment
The slimy fluid can be irritating, wash your hands after handling
Eat large amount of food compared to body size

#5 Flower beetle

Beetles are the largest group of animals in the world. And many of them are also perfect for keeping as a pet. Because they are so easy to keep, they are a great pet for kids.

Beetles are very popular in Japan. They are keeping bugs for many years, and the number of beetle keepers is still growing. There are 3 types of beetles that are popular as a pet: Stag beetles, rhino beetles, and flower beetles. Flower beetles are most suitable for kids to keep. Of course, there are many other types of beetles, and some of them also make great pets.

One particular beetle that is both easy to keep and beautiful to see is the sun beetle. They are active during the day, wandering around and enjoy the food you provide. They reproduce easily and quite fast, and you can keep them in groups.

Pros

Are very easy to keep and don’t cost much time
Beetles are cheap to keep
Beetles are docile and can easily be handled
Many beetles have stunning colours

Cons

Many beetles can fly, so be careful they don’t escape
It takes some time before a larvae becomes a beetle
The adult lifestage of beetles is rather short
Other beetles than flower beetles may need some more experience to care for
Photo by Homesteading

#6 Ant colony

Nowadays, many online pet shows sell complete kits for keeping ant colonies for kids. And yes, they make absolutely great pets. Ant colonies are wonderful to observe, and it is fun to have a peak in their nest chambers.

Not all ants are suitable for kids, though. When you want a colony for your child, you should choose for harvester ants (Messor spp.), wood ants (Formica spp.) or carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.). These species are perfect to start with and are also beautiful ants too.

Especially Messor spp. are quite popular to keep. These harvester ants collect seeds and bring them to their nest chambers. There the worker ants chew them into a bread-like substance that is fed to the newborn larvae.

Don’t start with leaf-cutter ants. They are more difficult to keep and need much more experience. These ants also can painfully bite you.

Ants are housed in special terrariums, called formicarium. It takes a bit more work to set up the housing properly, but it is worth the effort. An ant colony is more suitable for older children (at least above 7 years, better around 10 years).

Read here more about keeping and caring for an ant colony.

Pros

Don’t cost much time to care for
You can easily buy complete kits to house ants
It is quite unique to have a peak in the nest chambers
Very interesting to see how an ant colony work together

Cons

Need more attention to make housing escape-proof
Are more difficult to keep, but it is worth it
It is recommended that your child is at least 7 years
Ants can’t be handled. They need to stay in the enclosure
Photo by Healthline

#7 Praying mantis

Praying mantises looks like they come from another planet. Their strange shape, bizarrely formed front-legs and alien-like eyes make them quite unique to keep as a pet. You definitely have a conversation starter. It is probably one of the coolest pet to keep (in my humble opinion).

All praying mantises are hunters. They eat insects, and they also need fresh living insects when you keep them as a pet. Feeding them requires a bit more effort. Although they are hunters and carnivorous, they don’t pose any danger for us. They don’t sting, and they rarely bite.

Mantises are very popular pets to keep, and there are many different species available. Although they make great pets, your child needs to be a bit older (10 years up) to keep and care for a praying mantis.

Read here more about keeping and caring for a praying mantis.

Pros

Only have to be fed twice a week
Don’t cost much time to care for
Can carefully be handled
Is one of the coolest and stranges pet to have

Cons

Are carnivorous and need live insects
They can bite, although they rarely do
Is more difficult to keep and you child needs to be a bit older (10 years and up)
Is more expensive because of feeding live insects

Bug pets that are NOT good pets for kids

Although many bugs are safe and suitable as pets for kids, with some bugs, it is better to avoid. They may not be life-threatening; however, these bugs can harm you or cause injury. Don’t pick any of these bugs as a pet for your child, and don’t ever let them near these bugs without supervision.

Tarantulas

Although tarantulas can make amazing pets for the brave among us, they are not good pets for kids.

Tarantulas have many defence mechanisms, and they are not afraid to use them. Starting with their large fangs, which can inflict a painful sting and inject low-venomous poison. Although they use their fangs mainly for catching and immobilize prey, it will be unwise to give them as a pet to your child.

But, even when you let them in their enclosure, when they feel threatened can kick irritating hairs that penetrate your skin. This can cause a rash and may be quite itchy.

Keeping tarantulas needs more experience and is advised for teeners of 16 years and up. Read here more about keeping and caring for tarantulas.

Scorpions

There are many people that keep scorpions as a pet. Not all scorpions have a (high) venomous sting, and many of them make great pets. However, they are not good pets for children.

It is not only the sting that makes them unsuitable. Scorpions are quite inactive and don’t have much colour. Scorpions love a quite shelter to hide and don’t show themselves often. Besides that, scorpions are nocturnal and only show themselves during dark hours.

Scorpions are more suitable for people that appreciate the uniqueness of these animals and respect their stingy tail. Keeping scorpions needs more experience and is advised for teenagers of 16 years and older.

Centipedes

Centipedes have a lot of similarities with millipedes. There are long worm-shaped creatures that crawl around in search of food. However, there are some distinctive differences between them what makes them not suitable as a pet for kids.

Where millipedes are slow-moving, centipedes can be rather quick. And they have to. Centipedes are active hunters and catch prey. And they have the tools to effectively do so. Centipedes have a killing bite. If you don’t look out, they can bite you as well.

Besides that, almost all centipedes are venomous, and that makes their bite painful. I think this makes it clear that centipedes are not suitable as a pet for kids. Keeping centipedes need proper experience with more dangerous animals, and are not good as a first pet (not even for adults).

How to easily differentiate millipedes from centipedes? Millipedes have two pair of legs per body segment, and centipedes have only one pair of legs per body segment. Also, centipedes have their legs more on the side of their body, where millipedes have (often) shorter legs more below their body.

When to start with a pet for your kid?

It depends on your child if it can handle the responsibility already for a pet. Generally, it is stated that a child needs to be 7 years or older to start with a pet. It is not recommended to give a pet to a child under 7 years.

Children below this age lack the skills it requires to take care of pets. Additionally, they can be too rough with handling that injures or even kills bugs. Keep in mind, although many are sturdy, they are still fragile compared to a cat or dog.

Pets are a great way to teach your child more about responsibility and commitment. If you think your kid is ready for it, then you should try it. It is important to do some research on each pet options. Each pet has its quirks and needs, and you need a pet that suits your child.


Why every child should have a pet bug! — I’m convinced that every child should have a pet bug. We already discussed that bugs are perfect pets for many reasons: They are easy to keep, don’t need much space, and don’t cost much time and money. Add to that, that there is so much to learn from bugs and their way of life.

Read here all about it why I think every child should have a bug pet.

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