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How Do I Choose the Best Class Pet?

Allowing children to take care of a class pet can be an invaluable learning experience for them. When choosing the best pet for your classroom, you should try to choose one that corresponds with the lessons you are teaching. In addition, the pet you select should be an appropriate choice for the age range of your students. Above all else, you'll need to think about who will take care of the class pet when school is not in session, and who will pay for its expenses. The Humane Society of the United States claims that goldfish and small rodents, such as gerbils, make ideal class pets.

When choosing the best pet for your classroom, a few major concerns should be considered. First and foremost, you'll want to find a class pet that is age appropriate for the children in your classroom. For example, a delicate or fragile pet may not be right for very young children, as they may accidentally harm it. Goldfish and similar aquatic creatures seem to go over well with small kids, or in classrooms that have children prone to allergies. Small rodents such as rats, gerbils, and guinea pigs also tend to make good classroom pets.

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One major concern that needs to be addressed is who will be responsible for caring for the class pet when school is not in session. For younger children, the teacher should be the one to take full responsibility for the class pet at all times. As the children mature, it may be possible to allow them to take the pet home with them on weekends and holiday breaks, as long as the parents of the child agree. Another concern is how the pet's food, supplies, and veterinary care will be covered. In some situations, the class may be able to fund-raise for the money; otherwise, the responsibility will likely fall solely onto the teacher.

Some species just won't make good class pets. Wild animals such as frogs, lizards, snakes, and turtles shouldn't be adopted as class pets because their needs are unlikely to be met in a classroom setting, and they may spread salmonella. Although popular, hamsters and rabbits are also not recommended because they are nocturnal and like to be left alone during classroom hours. In addition, birds make poor class pets because they are noisy and extremely sensitive to drafts and changes in room temperature.

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Discuss this Article

KoiwiGal
Post 3

@irontoenail - We had a pet rat in one of my classrooms and I always wanted to be one of the people who got to take him home for the weekend, but my mother was deathly afraid of rodents so I never got the chance.

I don't know how ideal that is though, really. I know it sounds good in theory that kids get a turn at caring for an animal, but I feel like it would be very upsetting for the class pet to go to a different home every week.

irontoenail
Post 2

@Iluviaporos - We had tadpoles in one of my classes when I was a kid and I can remember being asked to bring in bugs to feed them, which was fun. That same teacher kept a couple of mice for us as well, but I remember she thought they were both female and it turned out one was male and one was female. It was the most exciting time of my young life when we came in one morning and there were tiny little mouse babies in the cage.

Funnily enough, one of the original mice had to go on vacation after that and never came back! But we all had a good time observing the babies as they grew up (and were quickly given to new homes so they didn't perpetuate the cycle either).

lluviaporos
Post 1

Although frogs aren't ideal, tadpoles can be wonderful pets. If you scoop up a few tadpoles from the local stream and keep them until they become frogs the kids get to see their development day by day, and then you can just release them again before they get old enough to need a different environment.

Just make sure you know how to take care of them before you catch them, as there's nothing worse than a teacher not knowing what do to and the classroom pet passing away.

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