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Classroom Pets

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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 #94217

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...

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Great pets
Posted by:CP #117923

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...

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Don't get the little aquatic frogs!
Posted by:tammynj #124769

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...

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Posted by:mary #24387

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...

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Pet Rats in the Classroom
Posted by:Cindy #78736

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...

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Classroom pets
Posted by:Cathy-Dee #68397

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,...

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A super classroom pet!
Posted by:Lisa #95362

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...

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Suggestions and a word of caution
Posted by:Cathy-Dee #43224

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...

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Classroom pets
Posted by:C.C. #46058

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...

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Pets in the Classroom
Posted by:Sharon in CA #24432

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...

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classroom pets
Posted by:Mary #24385

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.

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classroom pets- first graders love rats!
Posted by:first grade teacher #43398

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.

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fish / pets
Posted by:MLaird #59160

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...

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What about an Ant Farm?
Posted by:Sharon D. W-L #115388

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...

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class pets- glass fish!!
Posted by:Janine #11793

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!

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class pets
Posted by:Melisa #58830

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...

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classroom pets
Posted by:kallard #115518

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...

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Posted by:MsPropel #131991

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!...

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Pets- ideas :-)
Posted by:Stacey #19020

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-...

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Posted by:paula #24738

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.


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Classroom Pets
Posted by:Cathy-Dee #77426

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...

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pets for the classroom
Posted by:Cathy-Dee #24346

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...

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Classroom Pets
Posted by:JohnV #58623

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...

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classroom pets
Posted by:Brenda #18959

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.

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pets in the classroom
Posted by:Carolyn #24606

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.

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Classroom pets
Posted by:Mrs. D. #94479

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.

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Posted by:Julianne #24345

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...)

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Posted by:PJ #77328

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!

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Classroom Pets - rats or gerbils
Posted by:John Vose #24341

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.


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Classroom pets
Posted by:Becky #11791

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.

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Classroom Pets
Posted by:BetsyC #122274

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...

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Be Careful
Posted by:MD #19358

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!

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I've got worms...
Posted by:Kat's Mom #116294

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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