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Classroom Pets

Compiled By: luv2teach77

Classroom Pets can be a HUGE responsibility, so deciding what kind of pet to bring into your classroom is an important decision. Here's a collection of ideas on what pets are best and some great advice from teachers who've had different kinds of pets in their own classrooms.

Posted by: bertie

Borrow some pets..... one at a time.....from the students, other teachers/classrooms, your own friends or the pet store. Keep them for a day, a week, three weeks...keep each til your kids understand how to care for each properly, and that having pets is a huge committment. Then give them back! You'll get lots of experience, there will be lots to write about, and you'll be able to choose better in the end. I just loved the time we borrowed another class' pet rabbit! He was hilarious and very friendly, but the kids realized quickly what an amount of caring went into keeping his cage clean, his teeth properly cared for, getting the proper food, putting him to bed at night, and making sure he was safe in a classroom of shoelaces and electrical cords. We had lots of adventures, wrote lots of stories, read lots of books, and happily returned him to his classroom...who was missing him by this time.

Great pets
Posted by: CP

I had a guinea pig in my classroom for about 6 years. The kids LOVED him. Actually I went through two, one died. I had a ceremony out by the playground and buried him. The kids would often sit by his grave at recess time......ANYWAY, on a happier note they made a great classroom pet. I left mine at school on weekends, and for long weekends kids would sign up to take him home. I would drop him off at their house. (Gave me a chance to meet the family and see where they came from.) Often families would help bring in supplies so the cost was less for me. I kept Rodney in a big Tupperware box, the kind you might store sweaters in. One recommendation, DON'T USE CEDAR CHIPS. I was informed by a reputable pet store that cedar causes guinea pigs to get sick and die. Also, keep them away from open windows, drafts also make them sick. (that is what brought ours to an untimely death). Besides that, they are easy pets, and gives kids a great responsibility.

Have fun!:D

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Don't get the little aquatic frogs!
Posted by: tammynj

I've had a beta fish w/ the plant, and the students really liked having him (we were the only class to have a pet of any kind). I let them name him (Elvis Fishley - don't ask!), and he was relatively easy to care for, except that he really smelled when we cleaned his water (at least once a week). I raffled Elvis off at the end of the year to one of the students.
Last year, I thought the same idea (the big vase w/ the plant) would be a good idea, but this time with two little aquatic frogs (African frogs? I forget what they were called). One died pretty quickly, but the other lasted for a while. I actually killed him accidently, by using water that was too warm (at least, I think that's what happened). I let the kids believe that he expired from natural causes (although my son knows the truth!), and I decided not more class pets.

With both the frogs and the fish, I had to worry about water temp. As the winter months came along, it could get pretty cold in the classroom. I sometimes had to bring them home for long weekends, b/c I was afraid they would freeze while we were gone.

Of course, now that a new year is approaching, I am thinking, "Maybe a class pet would be fun." Some people never learn their lesson!:)

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Posted by: mary

I had third graders...but this year I will have a split 2/3 class and I plan on having pets again. I also never thought of alergies, but thankfully I didn't have any students who had any.

Another "problem" you may want to think about is those parents who will not want their student touching "those things." I had a parent who just could not believe that we had "rats" in our classroom. She didn't give me any trouble (thank goodness) but one of the first things she would say when she came in the room was "Keep those rats away from me"--I think in the end she just did it to get the kids started.

Another thing you need to keep in mind is hampsters tend to escape if you don't have a secure top on the cage. One of our hampsters got out and the kids were VERY upset thinking something dreadful had happened to him. We were in the middle of math when all of a sudden we heard a scream and then "RAT!!!" come from next door, so we knew he was okay.

Our pets are still fine (my husband adopted them at the end of the year). I don't know how I would of handled the death of one of them. I guess we would of had a funeral for it.(I don't mean any disrespect of any kind, but seriously, the kids loved them so well I am sure we would of had to have a funeral.) One student wanted to take them to the vet to find out if they were boys or girls. I was surprised to see how attached the kids get to these animals...

Pet Rats in the Classroom
Posted by: Cindy

I have had pet rats in the classroom for years. In grade fourth grade and above. They are GREAT! It became part of my reward system for the students to use their reward points towards time holding the rats! Go figure! Anyway here what is needed, in my opinion.
1. I only choose young, hand fed FEMALE rats.You will avoid a "biter" if they are young.
(whatever you do, they must be of same sex if
you want more than one in a cage...unless sex
ed is part of the curriculum...what could be
more natural!)
If you have one rat, NEVER introduce another rat to the same tank, they are territorial and will fight until death!
2. Use a large fish tank with wood chips in the
bottom, thick forked branch for climbing, chew
blocks, water bottle, and ceramic food dish

3. STRONG latching lid, they are escape artists!

4. Small "Week End" Cage, for students to take
the rats home for weekend care. Do on rotation
and with permission, and a "how to take care of
me" note from your rat.
5. Clean cage once a week. Students can do. Using the travel cage for rats while fish tank is cleaned by emptying all bedding, wipe down with only water, fresh bedding, fresh water. etc.

6. When the rats are babies, like people babies, go to the bathroom A LOT! This sounds gross...but I keep boxes of tissue and antibactiral baby wipes handy so that when the students hold the rats, they clean up after the rat and can wash hands and whatever else when finished handling rats.

7. Many students do not have pets these days and this is a great experience for them. They get quite attached. Rats outgrow the bathroom thing after about 4-6 months.

Have fun!

Classroom pets
Posted by: Cathy-Dee

I don't have too many ideas on what kind of pets, but here are my thoughts anyway.

Birds - I wouldn't think they'd make great classroom pets just because of the noise and the clean-up involved. They might be ok over a weekend but your room would have to have a pretty steady temperature, etc., Also you'd have to check with your students and staff for anyone with allergies to feathers which is more common than one would think.

With your fish - you might want to try fish again - do not put in live plants (live plants often are what cause the algae) and keep the aquarium away from sunlight. We've had an aquarium up in our entrance area by our office since October and we've had no algae.

Lizards can be neat classroom pets if you don't mind feeding them crickets, etc., I was fine as I dumped them in quickly and shut the top.

A super classroom pet!
Posted by: Lisa

I teach 3rd grade and have always made a point to have a class pet. I have gone the route of gerbils, hamsters, fish.....The children have loved them all! But with all classroom pets, there is a lot of planning (i.e., weekend feeding and/or "weekend adoption" arrangements, holiday planning, temperature considerations, cleaning, etc.).

Recently, a family gave my classroom a collared lizard. I have found the ideal pet! Lizards make a great classroom spectacle. "Ranger" likes to come to the front of the tank to greet children. He is active during the day with digging and jumping from plants to rocks. And he's gentle enough for me to take out of the tank for a hands-on session. It's also great during science class. How often can you have a real reptile in class when you're teaching about them. He is easy to care for. You only need to buy crickets every few weeks. Tanks are easy to clean. They're quiet. And just plain fun to watch. Feeding days are a thrill for all the children.

If you can handle the squimmies, snakes are also great classroom pets. We have 2 corn snakes as home/classroom pets. It gives the children a great opportunity to get to know a "taboo" animal. My students have learned to respect and not to fear (unnecessarily) what a snake is. They enjoy being held and only need feeding every other week.

For all reptiles, lamps, heating sources, etc. can be put on timers. You don't have to worry about it during weekends. The tanks are easy to take home without the concerns of odors and nocturnal noise that some classroom pets create.

Before saying "NEVER!", consider the reptiles. Many classes have fuzzy things, be different...Be popular! My classroom becomes a classroom for many teachers wanting to show our pets to their classes.....even the middle school and high school departments!

Suggestions and a word of caution
Posted by: Cathy-Dee

Before you head out to find a classroom pet, I would recommend talking to your administration first to see if there are any school guidelines you should be aware of.

And you may also want to wait until after the first few days of school and then send home a note asking parents about allergies.

There are many children who are allergic to different animals - especially fur or feathers and some children with Asthma as well so you want to be careful when having a class pet. Some schools ban all fur/feather pets because even having them in the school could affect children in another classroom. We have a TA in our school who is highly allergic to fur dander and even if a class has a short visit by a pet and she walks in the room an hour later (after the pet is gone) it has triggered her asthma.

Pets that usually do not affect allergies may include
fish, lizards, frogs, insects like spiders (although I wouldn't call them pets )

If allergies are not a concern, then other fun pets can include
hamsters (although they are more active at night)
guinea pigs

I would stay away from exotic pets like hedgehogs, ferrets, etc., as these really are wild animals and are not easily handled by children.

As with any pet at home, consider the care, etc., Grade 1 children can be overseen with feeding but it will most likely be you who has to clean the cage or aquarium, buy the food, etc., Also decide now about holidays and what will happen with the pet at the end of the year.
Also be prepared for the pet to possibly die and how you would deal with that in the classroom.

On a personal note, although fish are not touchable - they are often the easiest class pet to manage and can be left for a few days without having to worry about them. As well some pet shops will store fish over holidays for minimal fees.

Classroom pets
Posted by: C.C.

I have read everyones reply. I am one who has had several different pets in the classroom. I will not have mice, or snakes though! We live in a rural area so have access to free wildlife. I have taken tadpoles into the classroom. The kids love it, and it is neat to watch them change to frogs. Also found a turtle which was shared. Also had a praying mantis which the kids enjoyed catching grasshoppers and feeding it. Had a bullfrog which was fun to watch jump and stretch in the gym. These were all temporary pets which we released eventually. We also had an ant farm. We tried the earthworm farm, but it was pretty boring. I am planning on bringing in my pair of zebra finches for a while. They are so fun to watch build a nest and hatch eggs. I took our pet cat into the classroom for a while. He was so fun the kids loved reading with him. I was lucky no allergies though. Have fun with whatever you decide to use.

Pets in the Classroom
Posted by: Sharon in CA

My first year teaching (15 years ago) I just had to have a pet in the room. So, I started an aquarium stocked with livebearers, such as platies and guppies. This is fun for the students because they can actually watch the fish having their babies - they pop out in a little ball then swim away. It helps to have plenty of plants so that all the babies aren't consumed as food (or get a small maternity tank). About 8 years ago I was given a pair of zebra finches by our custodian who raised them - and I have had finches in my room ever since. The orginal pair died last year and now I have a new pair. You need to be sure you have a large enough cage as they throw lots of seed out when they eat. But, as long as you have a dustbuster and a broom its not bad. The males have a lovely little song and most of the day they just "chirp" along. You will always have students who take some time getting used to the "noise", but eventually it just becomes part of the environment (I have never had a problem). Also, if they are happy, the hen will lay eggs periodically which will, hopefully, hatch. You don't need to do anything - they are very self-sufficient. The students really enjoy this part - seeing the birds go from egg, to featherless chick to fledglings falling out of the nest.

Last year I finally had my first mammals in the classroom. I had always fought this because of the anticipated odor. I purchased a pair of dwarf hamsters from a parent who started breeding them. They are much freindlier and social then the larger hamster and love to be held. They can live in pairs (be prepared for babies!) or same sex pairs or groups. Find a breeder instead of the pet store because they will have been handled more, which means no biting. We start holding our babies as soon as their eyes are open so that they make better pets. The students love our hamsters and are only occasionally bitten (when they don't handle them properly).

Good luck to everyone trying pets for the first time - it really adds to the classroom environment.

classroom pets
Posted by: Mary

We had SEVERAL classroom pets this past year--our first was a small turtle. He turned out to be way to much trouble for me because the kids couldn't handle him and his water had to be change daily. We traded him in for a hermit crab, but the kids didn't like him cause he did nothing. Finally, my husband ran across dwarf hampsters in a pet store--buy one get one, so he bought them for the class. The kids loved them--especially when we came to school one day to find we had babies!! The kids took full responsibility for the pets--food, water, and changing the bedding. Also, the babies were a WONDERFUL learning experience for them--the changes were amazing.

classroom pets- first graders love rats!
Posted by: first grade teacher

I have been a first grade teacher for quite a few years and the pets that work for me are rats. Yes, rats. They are clean, do not smell and are rather affectionate. They are SO interesting to children and adults because of the perceived fear and all of the unknowns. Many lessons can be taught throughout the curriculum with pet rats. They are easy to feed and easy to care for in the classroom. All materials are inexpensive. We had "Lucy" and "Ricky" one year and they had 4 babies, all of whom were adopted. We kept them in a regular fish tank with a wire covered lid. No wire on the bottom of the cage because it hurts their feet. I hope this post inspires someone to try rats as pets because they are WONDERFUL additions to a classroom.

fish / pets
Posted by: MLaird

Hi MM!

I am a special educator, and have used pets in the classroom for quite a long time now. You are wise to start with fish... they are fairly inexpensive with little maintenance. First, I recommend buying a "self-contained" fish tank (available for $20 or so at WalMart or similar store) - the filter, pump, etc. are all included. Then, they have fish that look similar to goldfish but are a little bigger. They cost less than $5 each. A couple points to remember - hide the food - well-meaning students (or custodians) may overfeed the fish in your absence; keep the tank out of direct sunlight as much as possible - this will serve to inhibit algae growth.

If you are looking for something SUPER simple, consider buying BETA fish. They are also available at pet stores and WalMart for less than $5. They can survive without a filter/air pump. Just note, they are agressive and need to be either alone, or with a DIFFERENT species fish that is bigger than they are.

Also, when you feel you are ready for your rabbit, check out your local animal shelter. Ours would sometimes have smaller pets (rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters) available for adoption. I adopted 2 guinea pigs and had wonderful luck with them in the classroom!

good luck!

What about an Ant Farm?
Posted by: Sharon D. W-L

I have used an Ant Farm in the past as a class pet for my first graders. They are very co-operative creatures and when you get them via the mail they only send you the worker ants. :) No queen or soldier ants are allowed to be sent. Feed them and add water to their "nest" once or twice a week and that is basically it. I often kept them covered up as I found they did more digging this way - in the dark. Then I would have various times when small groups could go and take the box off and observe the ant farm with all their tunnels. I do prefer the ant farms that are thin and tall and not the hill like ones out there but either would serve the purpose. :)

I had planned to do one this year as well but wanted to wait until March or April to order them via the mail as it gets very cold here. I might order them right away and have them come in September but will have to bring them straight home at Christmas and get them into a warm house. Cold is not good for them although I have never needed heat lamps or anything like that, just a warm room temperature and they are good to go.

I had tried last year to order ladybugs but was told that they are a pest and could not order them and bring them into Canada. The K teachers do butterflies and then let them go and I was hoping to do the something similar in May or June. I'll have to look and see what is available but will probably just stick with ants.


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class pets- glass fish!!
Posted by: Janine

Last year I purchased "class glass pets". This was the best investment I could have made! They are great, because they will last forever, they never die (therefore you do not have to explain that Freddy the fish is no longer here), no odors will come from the bowl, no need to clean weekly/bi-weekly. I purchased five glass fish, and one star fish-- they are awesome. They are attached to a fishing line, which in turn is attached to a clear glass bubble which floats on the top on the fish bowl. They look real-- and the kids love them! My students re-name the fish every year during the first week of school! It's a lot of fun! Give it a try!

class pets
Posted by: Melisa

I agree with the hermit crabs--very easy to take care of and the kids love them! Just be sure that the sponge in their "home" stays wet...our classroom is very dry, so we had to be careful with this!
I recently bought a beta fish and plan to bring him to school in the fall. He lives alone in a small fish bowl (must not be with other fish---they are fighters) and the water does not need to be cleaned very often. These fish even make their own oxygen, according to the woman who helped me at PetSmart! You can purchase one at PetSmart for $2.99...the bowls and food are also inexpensive! They are very pretty to look at so I am guessing the kids will enjoy it!

I have also had African Pygmy Frogs in my classroom--these tiny frogs live underwater like fish. They are tiny and also inexpensive. When I had them, they lived in a small fish tank with a filter that I purchased for under $15 at Wal-Mart. They were easy to maintain and I did not have to clean the tank as often as I expected. the kids loved having them in the classroom.

Finally, you can purchase a "Grow a Frog" kit from many of the teacher stores/catalogs. In the kit, you receive a small tank, food, and a certificate that entitles you to a tadpole. The tadpole will grow into a frog while in your classroom--the students enjoyed watching the changes! (good science lesson) The frog is also an underwater frog, although will grow to be a little bigger than the African Pygmy frogs.

Finally (I know I am long winded), make sure that if you decide to go with an animal with hair to be aware of allergies and school policies. Good Luck!

classroom pets
Posted by: kallard

I have always had pets as a child, and can't stop now that I'm an adult. At home we have a dog, a rabbit, two aquatic turtles, and a chinchilla (except for the dog, the others are all my daughters' pets).

I have Pixie, a rat, here at home, but she is a classroom pet. I also have Nagini, a corn snake. The corn snake is unbelievably easy to care for. I have had lots of rats over the years and love them too...much easier than mice, smell a lot less (females smell less than males).

I also had a fish tank, but I hate cleaning them when they get dirty, and you can't transport as easily....unless you stay small.

Actually the turtles were originally classroom pets too, but the I transported home for break and didn't feel like transporting back....tank was too big and heavy. I recommend anything that you can easily stick back in the car to take home.

I have heard lots of good things about guinea pigs, but the ones I have interacted with always seemed skittish or I have heard of biting. My rats have never bitten unless they smelled food on your hand.

I might try the teddy bear hamster...though hamster bite more than rats.

Oh, I also had green anoles that came with our 4th grade science kits....they were ok as far as the animal goes, but I hated dealing with crickets and misting the cage every day (they don't drink out of a bowl).

I HATE cockroaches more than anything (and I am pretty open about all other animals), but the hissing cockroach might be a good one....just don't if I could stomach handling one.....ever since I saw the movie "Creepshow."

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Posted by: MsPropel

I have a 10 gallon fish tank with three Silver Mollies and a Chinese Algae Eater. The neat thing about Silver Mollies is that they are live bearers so when they have babies, they come out live - no eggs. Just before break I had a pregnant mollie that gave birth. She had about 30 babies! The kids LOVED that. I now have the babies in a separate tank (2 gallon) so they can grow without fear of being eaten by the adult mollies. They will stay there until they are big enough to be introduced to the large tank. Not all 30 will survive, at last count, I found 8. Others could be hiding but I won't know for sure for a while.

I have heard that tarantulas are terrific classroom pets. Everytime I go to the pet store I take a look but I'm just not sure I can do it! Plus, I've had several teachers tell me they'll never come to my room again! :rolleyes:

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Pets- ideas :-)
Posted by: Stacey

Hi, each year that I have taught we have done the water frogs, butterflies, and lady bugs as science things. The kids love these and they are not real expensive, of course you release the lady bugs and butterflies but the kids get attached and it is neat. The frog is yours to keep until you are ready to get rid of him or her. You can also purchase friends for your frog etc. Very easy to take care of. I also have a couple hampsters (dwarf) these guys are cheap and easy too. They dont eat much and they eat just about anything. If you give them attention they are a lot of fun too. My kids love it when we put the hampster in the hampster ball and let it roll around the classroom. I did have a hissing cockroach too that was super easy- thank god because I wasnt about to touch it but all you did was put a little dog food and bark in his little cage and a sponge in a shallow dish (for water) and that is it, all you really have to do for him is keep the sponge damp. Easy fish are good too, if you dont get the ones that need an ariator, etc. they are pretty easy, just feed and clean every once in a while, pet stores can lt you know which kinds are the hardiest! Guinney Pigs are fun too but can smell if you dont clean their cage regularly. I dont do the snake or spider thing myself, anything else, I will try. It is fun to let the students help name the animals. We have 2 water frogs from last year that my kids named Butterfinger and Snickers. Creative they are!

Posted by: paula

Have you considered insects? I have two madagascar hissing cockroaches. They are odd, but interesting. You sort of have to think of them like six legged turtles:o)
I also have an aquarium. Not exciting, but beautiful and calming. Not much work, and interesting.
My neighbor has many types of insects and living creatures. Millepedes are facinating. She has a gecko and a little frog that cohabitate. She has a tarantula, a turtle, stick bugs, and too many MH cockroches. She also has rats, meal worms, silk worms and I am sure others that are being forgotten. She and her husband do most of the maitenance and the rats were the hardest to find homes for the summer. Everything else is in her classroom. We can come and go during the summer months and she is there everyday because she is taking a class.

I would never have considered an insect for a pet, but her classroom is clean, orderly, and the children learn about "bugs" in a very positive way. I even sort of like my guys.

Classroom Pets
Posted by: Cathy-Dee

You should also be sure that your school does not have a policy [against pets]. Many schools do not allow pets because of allergies. Also think through things like holidays, cost of food, time required for taking care of the pet,e tc., With young children they can help a bit, but you pretty much have to be the main caretaker which can add a lot of work depending on the type of pet.

With your suggestions.....

Fish - talk to a pet store to find out what is the easiest and most hardy variety of fish. This is probably the easiest pet for a classroom. Be prepared to deal with "death" though as fish tend to die more frequently than other pets.

Hamster/gerbal - nice pets but unless you can spend a lot of time for the first 2-3 months taming them they can easily become biters. If they are simply to be watched then it isn't such a problem, but you often have to catch them to put them somewhere so you can clean their cage.
Hamsters tend to be easier to tame. They are also night animals so they may spend most of the day sleeping and thus not really be interesting to the kids.

Rabbits - I wouldn't go this route - larger rabbits need to have their cages cleaned usually every 2-3 days otherwise the smell of their urine is overwhelming. The dwarf rabbits can go a week without cleaning but they tend to be more agressive. As well if you let them loose be prepared for many chewed items, wires, etc.,

Frog - probably on the same lines as the fish.

pets for the classroom
Posted by: Cathy-Dee

I haven't had pets myself for different reasons, mainly because of the lack of families who could properly care for the pets over holidays - I'm gone every holiday. I did take my own pet bunny to school from time to time and the kids loved him. Dwarf rabbits are not as "messy" as the larger ones and their cages only need to be cleaned once a week - same as most hamsters, guinea pigs, etc,

I agree with the word of caution - there seems to be more children with allergies (especially Asthma) so you want to be sure not only the students in your class but within the school as well any who might have severe allergies. We had one student who would react quickly to fur so we were asked not to have pets just to err on the side of caution. Some schools mandate no pets so you'll want to check with your administration or you may end up having a new pet at home.

As far as grade twos having pets - any grade would be fine - the younger grades however would need more direction and the teacher would probably end up doing more of the work. But it can be a very excellent learning experience for the kids. I would think grade 5 students could learn to do a lot of the work involved in the care of the classroom pet.

Check on turtles - I know at least in Alberta we cannot legally keep turtles because they can carry certain diseases. We don't have rats either.

Guinea pigs can be nice - noisy though. Hamsters are always fun and you can buy the little ball and they can race around the room too.

Rabbits can be nice - but the dwarf ones tend to be more agressive and the big ones are harder to take care of as far as cleaning cages and space.

Fish, frogs, lizards can all be quite interesting.

Several teachers where I work had hedgehogs but they don't do much except lay around and hiss when you get too close. Personally I'd stay away from the exotic animals - they require a lot more care and rarely make good pets.

Regardless of the pet you are looking at a weekly cleaning most likely, food, veterinarian care possibly, etc., Any of the pets I mentioned and others mentioned are only good pets if you take a lot of time during the first 2-3 months you have them to socialize them and help them to become "friendly" pets. Animals like hamsters if not handled a lot at the beginning will become aggressive and bite as they get older. Even at a young age they are quite agressive when scared - so kids shouldn't handle them until you have handled them.

And you need to be prepared for the possibility of the death of a classroom pet. Many of these animals are quite fragile and can develop illnesses quickly. So you'll have to be able to help the kids through this.

Classroom Pets
Posted by: JohnV

I teach 5th grade science. I have had a classroom pet each year for about 7 years.

My classroom pet has been a rodent (gerbil). They are very low maintenance. Being desert creatures they do not urinate as frequently as some other animals so their cages only need cleaning once a week. A small bowl of food lasts them about a week as well.

One of the most loving pets I have seen is another rodent (rat). I was personally surprised that the rat (unlike the gerbil) seemed to have a memory of individual people. She would come out and approach people she liked better than others.

Given what you've said above,however, I would recommend for you a betta fish. I have never owned one of my own, but I understand that they are very easy to maintain. Their water doesn't have to be changed as frequently as that of other fish. They have to be kept individually because they fight with each other so they can be kept in small bowls. I can't give you any more information than that, but you can talk to the people at a pet store and they should be able to fill you in.

Good luck.


classroom pets
Posted by: Brenda

I have had rats as my classroom pets for years and they are wonderful pets! They do not smell, do not make messes and are very fascinating to students. We have even bred rats-the mommy and daddy were "Lucy and Ricky." Rats are also very tame and it is very unusual for them to bite. I have never had a student bitten in 16 years. Let me know know if you need more information. Believe me, your classroom will become very popular with the addition of rats for pets. Children love them.

pets in the classroom
Posted by: Carolyn

My main concern about having pets in the classroom is allergies. I have allergies, so I have thought of this. I think it would be a good idea to find out about the pet allergies of your students before going through the time and expense of getting animal(s) set up in the classroom. With several kids last year on inhalers, and one having had an asthma attack, I didn't consider having pets.

Classroom pets
Posted by: Mrs. D.

List of wonderful science classroom pets:
Hedgehogs, fish, mice, toads, lizards (just the small type; collared lizard, anoles, five-lined skinks), salamanders, and tarantulas. Just a few suggestions, they are easy to clean up after and do not stink! You must clean the mouse cage at least every 3 days. The students like to take care of them. The other animals are very easy to maintain, most eat crickets.
Sincerely, Mrs. D.

Posted by: Julianne

I've had fish and parakeets in the classroom as well as various rodents. One thing I've done lately is bring my small dog to class with me. She is very quiet and well trained. None of my students was allergic so it was a good option. She visited several times during the school year and the kids learned a great deal about pet care and training as a consequence. I have seen turtles and iguanas make good classroom pets, though they aren't the least bit cute or cuddly (that's my criteria for a great pet...)

Posted by: PJ

I've had several pets in my classroom. The children enjoyed them all. I suggest that you get a pet that is low maintance. We had a rabbit in our class this pass year. The kids loved Mr. Bunny but, it was a tremendous amount of work for me. The cage had to be changed every day and I had to find him a home over the holidays. We had to chase him all around the room to get him back in his cage. I think the kids loved that. This year we might try something simple like a fish or some turtles. Good luck!

Classroom Pets - rats or gerbils
Posted by: John Vose

I have had gerbils for about six years now. They are quite clean. Their cage can go about one week between cleanings. They are gentle (girls seem to be more gentle than boys) as well.

My daughter, also a fifth grade science teacher, had a rat last year. The rat, a female, was also gentle and clean. She showed more curiosity than the gerbil and was therefore more entertaining.

I haven't found hamsters or guinea pigs to be very entertaining beyond being cute, but others have.


Classroom pets
Posted by: Becky

I have had fish in the past. They are a great pet in that they are very low maintenance. Another great pet that a teacher next door has is turtles. A little more maintenance but still a good pet. We will try a guinea pig this year. I am not sure yet how I like this as it will be a lot higher maintenance, but very few of my students have ever had a pet like this so it will be good experience.

Classroom Pets
Posted by: BetsyC

This year my class had a 30 gallon fish tank, rabbit, hermit crab, and a scorpion. Someone gave us the rabbit (BunBun) when she was just a baby. The kids handled her all the time and she wandered the classroom a lot. BunBun was litter box trained and very rarely had accidents while outside her cage. Rabbits are a lot of work, but my students were completely in charge of caring for her. I really saw my struggling students along with one of my socially awkward students benefit from spending time with her.

We named our first hermit crab "Mr. Crabs" and he lived for a few months. Not sure why he died...then he was replaced with Ms. Crabs who lived for about six or seven months. She died the day after I brought her home for summer vacation.:mad: Once again, students were completely in charge of caring for the crabs and they did a great job. I never noticed a strong "stinky" smell.

The scorpion was named "Venny" by the students. I purchased him at Petco after the class decided that was what they wanted for their Christmas present. He does have a stinger but his sting is only that of a bee. Of course, one never knows how a person may react to scorpion venom so there were strict rules and procedures in place for the students who took care of him.

In the past I've also had a spider and ginuea pigs. I considered getting millipedes for Christmas but the students voted for the scorpion. I think classroom pets are great for all students and caring for them adds to the feeling of community and responsibility to that community. You should check out your local pet store and see what they have to offer. Choose something that you are comfortable with and that you feel comfortable letting your children care for.;)

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Be Careful
Posted by: MD

Be careful of pets with hair...I was not allowed to have "hairy pets" in my school because of student allergies. Check with your principal and with the families of your students.

I currently have African pygmy frogs in my classroom and they are the easiest pet ever! They are one of the only frogs that live entirely underwater and they pretty much take care of themselves...I rarely ever have to even clean out their tank because they eat the algae, etc. I am also thinking about getting a hermit crab, which I've heard are also easy to care for.

Good luck in your pet shopping!

I've got worms...
Posted by: Kat's Mom

in my classroom right now that I bought (nightcrawlers, actually) for a simple science experiment on observing the movement of worms. However, the kids are so darned excited about the buggers that they're hopeful for them being class pets. Anyway, I wondered if all of you out there have any cool (not harmful to the worms) experiments/activities we might try with the worms to keep their interest going. Did I mention that I can't even stomach picking one up? When I dumped the blob of squirming worms out of the bait cup and into their little habitat we made, I wanted to vomit! The students, on the other hand, were so into it! Oh, the sacrifices we teachers make for our students...:)

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