If you are looking for an unusual animal gift for Christmas that's educational, but also self-contained, then why not consider an ant farm ?
The ant habitat or farm has been created for people bored with domestic pets. The Ant Habitat uses the same technology that NASA developed back in 2003. Their mission: take ants into space to see how successfully they tunnel when exposed to microgravity.
The technology involved is a blue transparent non-toxic gel rich with nutrients to encourage an ant's healthy growth...so you do not need to feed or water your ants. They have everything they need in the gel. You simply marvel at their agility.
Better still, you can keep The Ant Habitat on your desk, mantle piece, or bedside cabinet day or night.
The ant habitat comes with a magnifying glass, ant catching/tunnel starter tool (so you can catch the ants to put in your habitat) and an instruction booklet with interesting facts about ants.