Pet Rating System

Our Rating System Explained

When creating our recommendations, we wanted to develop a single rating that parents could use to compare possible pets for their children at a glance. This rating is not meant to replace good judgment on the part of the parent. Some pets that we give high marks may still be unsuitable for your specific child or circumstances, so don’t let a high score stop you from reading all of the pertinent information pertaining to your potential pet.

What our rating system is good for is giving parents an easy way to quickly eliminate inappropriate choices when trying to decide on a pet. When it comes to rodents, for example, our ratings show that hamsters are not good pets for kids at all, and gerbils are not totally appropriate either. This is despite the fact that both are promoted as good choices by many pet stores. Both rats and guinea pigs, however, get very high marks across the board, making them much better choices. Parents trying to decide among the four choices would know to focus their research on rats and guinea pigs, while ignoring their less appropriate cousins.

So, how do we arrive at our ratings for each animal?

The overall score is a composite of the three most important areas, weighted by importance of the trait. Safety receives the most weight, as it is the most important aspect of choosing a pet by far. Ease of Care comes next, followed closely by Sociability. The actual weighting is as follows:

  • Safety: 65%
  • Ease of Care: 20%
  • Sociability: 15%
  • Note: Any animal that receives a score of 2/5 or less on Safety automatically receives an overall rating of “Inappropriate”. For example, while a corn snake or ball python may be worth considering as a pet, a boa constrictor or any venomous snake species would be entirely inappropriate.

“But, I Think [Insert Criteria] Is [More/Less] Important Than That!”

It’s hard to tell exactly how much weight to give any selection criteria without knowing the details of the individual family making the decision. Our weighting system is designed to be a general guideline, and nothing more. If you (the parent) plan on being the pet’s primary caregiver, then Ease of Care may carry much less weight for you. If your child doesn’t necessarily want a pet that he or she can pick up and play with, then Sociability may not matter to you at all.

Looking at an animal’s individual category ratings and reading the detailed description will give you much more insight into which pet is appropriate for your needs. Safety, however, should always be your first selection criteria.