Children with pets are cleverer: Study

Gift your kid a pet this birthday, as a new study has found that pet ownership makes children cleverer, with owners of chinchilla rodents benefiting the most.

A survey conducted by 'Pets at Home' on 1,000 pet-owning children, aged between 5-16 years, showed that the vast majority (79 per cent) believe their pet friends have a positive effect on their homework and schoolwork in general.

According to the survey, children with rats or mice are most likely to believe their pet could be helping them with their homework (92 per cent), against 86 per cent and 80 per cent for children owning dogs and cats respectively, reported the 'Daily Mail'.

"Owning a pet can bring so much pleasure to a family. It can increase a child's sense of responsibility, nurture a more caring attitude and develop self-confidence and, in the case of having a dog, it encourages kids to get outside more. There can be so many benefits," said wildlife TV presenter and animal lover, Michaela Strachan.

Nearly half of children, according to the survey, believe owning and looking after a pet makes them happier, a third claim to be calmer, while a fifth feel more intelligent.

Figures also showed that chinchillas and degu rodents have the biggest influence on a child's cleverness, as 55 per cent of children owning such pets felt more intelligent.The study also identified other significant benefits of pet ownership.

More than a third (36 per cent) children say they have become more caring, 34 per cent feel a greater sense of responsibility, while one in five have become better at talking to people.

Reptile owners, with 68 per cent, top the charts for those believing their pet had given them a greater sense of responsibility.

Rabbit owners came second with 61 per cent, followed by 40 per cent for cat owners and 36 per cent for dog owners.

"Owning a pet also has a positive impact on a child’s level of fitness. More than 30 per cent of children who took part in our survey said they had become more active as a result of owning a pet," Scott Jefferson, marketing director for Pets at Home, was quoted by the paper as saying. 

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