Rats, Pythons, Hamsters: Pets in the Classroom?

The Question:
What kinds of classroom pets do you keep, and how well do they function as educational/love objects?
The Answers:
Teresa Brown
 OMG! I had a rat for 2 years as a class pet…she was WONDERFUL. My boys loved her! When she was at the vet to have some tumors removed, they worried about her…asked me to call the vet every couple hours to make sure she was ok. She taught them empathy and compassion…two skills they desperately needed to learn to use with humans…
DeAnn Cohn
 I would keep the pillbugs/sowbugs, fish, and snails from the FOSS units. The kids loved when we could use them in our investigations.
Jessica Kloppenborg
 we have an aquatic frog…we watched him grow from a tapole.
Wendy Corbin Fortier
 I had a dwarf rabbit that I had declawed and neutered. He was a great pet except he liked to chew cords. The students loved him. He was gray so we named him Dusty (Dust bunny). Then a parent complained about allergies and we had to get rid of him 😦
Mindy Hicks-Arriaga
 Hermit crabs
Michelle Roscoe Spatafora
Pets are not allowed at my school.
Noelle English
 
I had guinea pigs..they are great because they will sit still on a child’s lap forever! Good to have 2 because they are social and get lonely.
Barbara Hutchison
 I, too, have an eleven pound rabbit who loves the kids. He has an awesome personality. I send a note home to parents at the beginning of the year requesting permission for their child to be around him. If all parents ok he comes to school. His cage is next to the book center and the students read to him. According to my boys Thomas the Train is his favorite. There a lots of teachable moments that revolve around him.
Karen Hapli 
I have a bearded dragon. The kids love him! They visit my room every year just to see how he’s doing. 🙂
Lisa Leatherman Neelly 
I have a pet frog, phineas and a beta fish, Bob. I want a rat or hamster but my principal is afraid of them. :0)
Lisa Marie Haboush
 I have a Russian winter white dwarf hamster. So sweet, and the kids ask every day to pet and hold her. She is in a glass aquarium with a screentop and never smells bad. They get so excited when she comes out of her little house. Puting fresh food in her bowl usually brings her out. You can get one at Petsmart for $20. And they have a 2 week return policy, so if you get one that tries to bite, or you can’t catch it to hold it, you can try again. I ask to see the babies they keep in the back. Easier to hand train. And their coats turn almost pure white their first winter!
Dawn Hudson Wright
 I have a ball python (Snuggles), a leopard gecko (Ike) and a baby bearded dragon (Lucky-she only has 3 legs and I adopted her on St Patrick’s day…the kids love them all…especially Snuggles!! Administration is not fond of them, but they seem to understand that it benefits the children!! : )
Deanah Proctor-Fullmer
 I have 10 hermit crabs…nice, easy to care for pets! 🙂
Melissa Bowker 
I have 2 rats at home, they are very smart, can handle lots of being held, loving, and are social animals. If you get a rat, make some type of a pouch the students could wear. They love my hooded sweatshirts and will stay in the hood or pocket. I don’t think I’ll every get anything but a rat now that I have them.
Juli Benson McCarlson
 A beta fish, painted turtle, and we have painted lady butterflies in the spring…children bring a variety of critters for Show and Tell, depending on the season…we love them all!!
Jennifer Green Meadows
 Our classroom pet does not actually stay in our classroom. I have a Pomeranian, Zoe. Everyday I write about Zoe during our writing lesson. No one can copy me because they don’t have Zoe at their house. I also share pictures of her. When we are learning rules, like sitting still on carpet and using an inside voice, waiting our turn…etc….I tell them Zoe cannot come to school until they are able to learn the rules. At least once during the year, usually around Christmas, I bring her to school with me so the kids can meet her. Towards the end of the year we make a book about Zoe and her adventures. I let the kids decide pictures and clothes or props for pictures and then they write about them. (kind of like Boo) Now that they have the Boo stuffed animal I am thinking of having the stuffed animal be a traveling pet to do a journal.
Erica Holloway 
We have a betta fish. Though it’s not a pet the children can snuggle with, it does teach them a lot about responsibility. Each child is designated a day to feed the fish, and it is marked on our calendar. They know that if they don’t feed him, he doesn’t eat–and they are using their calendar and name recognition skills to figure out whose turn it is!
Amy Sottile 
We have a box turtle. The students love to be “turtle tamers.”
Suellen Lutsch
 I have a Robo Dwarf Hampster. My co worker got a guinea pig. We got a grant from Petsmart. It helps cover the cost of your classroom pet. My kids loved Mr. Fuzzi.  They took turns feeding him. One of their favorite things to do was to put him in his exercise ball!!!
Denise Triplett Sexton
 We had a golden hamster named Penny. She was wonderful. I can’t even begin to tell you how much my children’s writing was enhanced by Penny’s presence! As long as it is allowed, I will always have a hamster for a pet. It is fairly low maintenance and keeping it in an aquariam – the clean up is very easy!
Cathy Howell 
We have a rabbit that I adopted from the Humane Society. She seems to like to kids, as she goes inside her box house when adults come up to the cage, but she comes right up to the sides when the kids go to talk to her. She has helped them learn to respect animals, as they know to be quiet and calm in the classroom, and not to poke their fingers in at her.
Chaya Phillips
 I have a Map Turtle and a gerbil. At times we have insects and I bring in my fat tailed Geckos to visit.
Cindy Tuisku
We have a tortoise. He’s great as he doesn’t bite and can get away from the kids whenever the wants by ducking in his shell. He doesn’t run off and we can forget to feed him for weeks.
Andrew Schwartz
 I have a 125 gallon aquarium in my classroom. I’m considering bringing in my two ball pythons for next year.
Eileen Tilley Dean
 I have 2 chinchillas who have been in my room for over 10 years . Kids read to them and help with feeding. I also have a box turtle. We have a turtle/ chinchilla race when we read tortoise & hare. Animals teach compassion & responsibility !
Cheri Dodson Smith
 I keep tadpoles until they turn into frogs! I get frog eggs from my pond every year and we enjoy watching them grow! Easy to maintain! I feed them goldfish food!
Laurie DeLia
 My sons’ 2nd grade teacher had many creatures in their room, but the ones that stick in our memory were the Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. The class could take them out and play with them! Just ewww.
Jonica Summersett Limes
 I’ve had many different classroom pets: 2 finches, mice, frogs, fish, rabbits, and chinchillas. For the past 8 years I’ve had 2 aquatic turtles in a very large tank. The kids love to watch them swim or sun bathe and I like the calming sound of flowing water. They are also super easy to take care of and the kids love to dig up worms at recess and drop them in the tank. The turtles jump in the water as soon as they see the kids coming with the worms, and my students love watching them gobble up those worms!
Beth Binyamina Kleinman
 I have had fish. The children learned about taking care of them and they learned about a model of a habitat. Also, once I bought a pregnant fish and it was amazing to follow what happened and to learn how to care for the offspring. However, fish tanks need to be cleaned regularly, and that was a lot of extra work for me. I kept it up for about five years, and then decided that plants would be easier. I gave my believed fish away to a friend at school.
 Wow! I never heard of a Petsmart grant! I would have applied for one for my fish… Thanks for sharing, Suellen!

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