Choosing a classroom pet

Discussion in 'General Education Archives' started by sweidl, Jul 9, 2006.

  1. sweidl

    sweidl Rookie

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    I will begin my first year teaching 5th grade very soon. I am very eager to have in animal in my room but I do not want it to get out of hand as far as maintenance is concerned. I would love to have a guinea pig but I am not sure how well it will work. Does anybody know of any low maintenance animals that go well in a classroom?
     
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  3. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    I am a huge animal lover. My first instinct is to wait until after your first year of teaching is underway, but I've never had a class pet so I suppose I'm not the real expert there. ;) Guinea pigs seem like a good choice though I think they are nocturnal. I know we had a gerbil or hamster when I was a fifth grader and it used to roll around in one of those balls...would sometimes get loose and go down the hall.
     
  4. teresaglass

    teresaglass Groupie

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    Guinea Pigs are great. I have raised them for 5 years. They are very low maintenance and they usually do not bite. Make sure you teach your students how to pick up the guinea pig. they have to be fed special food and you need to make sure thay have water everyday. buy a short-haired guninea pig. they are easier to care for. Terry G.
     
  5. TheConspiracy

    TheConspiracy Companion

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    May I suggest rats?

    We are a "farm" around here at my house (2 cats, 1 dog, 6 rats, 3 ferrets, 4 fiddler crabs) and I can sing the praises to you of rats as pets. They are very low maintenance and they are EXTRAODRINARILY people-friendly (unlike many rodents - guinea pigs and gerbils are particularly skiddish). They like to be held a lot and they can be taught tricks and to run through mazes, etc - which is super fun for kids. They are naturally nocturnal - but we keep them artificially on people-time by handling them a lot during the day while they are babies.

    People often see rats as dirty and disease infested - but anyone who has owned one would beg to differ. If you want to split hairs - ALL rodents are dirty scavengers who could potentailly spread disease - including that adorable little hampster.

    I would reccomend a rat over just about any other animal.

    ~J

    PS~My love for rats as pets came from having 2 rats as class pets in 5th grade - Larry and Roger -

    ***************
    Also - BTW- since you are also in FL you might consider maybe some fiddler crabs if you want something SUPER low -maintenance (although not people-friendly). You can ge tthem free on any shoreline (it is not illegal to remove them in the county I live) - and all you need is a $20 tank, a $20 salinization kit and some free sand and shells from the beach. During the winter they should be at no lower than 76 degrees, so you would want to buy a $10 heat strip for their tank. They eat frozen brine-shrimp every 2-3 days that costs about $3 a month to supply. Cleaning the tank only involves removing a little water every week with a cup (about 1/2 the water and refreshing it with a little salt water you can make yourself fromt he tap).

    However, they like to hide a burrow and don't enjoy people-contact (but they are fun to watch and find in their tunnels which you can see through the glass on the tank)
     
  6. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    There's a discussion about class pets going on at the PreK forum, you may want to check it out.
    I have several class pets. Right now I have turtles (2 box and 1 red-eared slider), fish, and a giant african millipede. I've had a couple of sets of rats and loved them. Whatever you get, though, needs to be something you are comfortable with. Odds are, it's going to get out at some point. You will have to touch it. :) It/They will end up spending their summer break with you.
    I think class pets are a wonderful way for kids to learn responsibility and kindness.
     
  7. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Conspiracy - is a hampster a hamster who fell into a hamper? (No offense intended ... let's not start that again.) Too funny.

    The rats at my school are very friendly critters. How do you handle the odor of the ferrets? Even removing scent glands doesn't help completely. They are the funniest pets I've ever seen. The two I had (briefly, then a student with biologist mother took them) were named Ricky and Sapphire. I don't know why.
     
  8. TeacherRW

    TeacherRW Cohort

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    Jul 10, 2006

    I would wait until your 2nd year also. You have enough stresses to deal with without adding another live critter. :)

    But if you are really sold on a pet, I would go with a fish tank. Contact your local pet store- they may even donate a tank & fish for you as long as you give them credit for it. There are lots of great resources online also that your kids would get a charge out of also. When I first set my tank up, we did a lot of research-- learned about pH levels of water (Oh, the experiments that you can do!), discussed plant life, etc. I also gave them a "budget" for buying fish for our community and they put together the inhabitants. You would never believe how excited they were when I brought the fish in over our lunch period. I had called Petco earlier in the day and told them that I was on a limited schedule. They were kind enough to pull out some of the basic fish for me that had no variation in color (neon tetras), and had an associate there readily available just for me. Actually, it was the fish manager that came to help me when I got there while two of his other employees assisted other customers.

    I am a big fan of fish because they are so easy to maintain. We clean the tank every 6 weeks and the kids love it. I assign someone to feed the fish daily-- usually I pick a kid who needs a self-esteem boost. And because they are fish and can't make noise, if s/he forgets the rest of the class has no clue. (I have some live plants in the aquarium also that are edible.)

    I am surprised that many of you can still have furry friends in your classroom. It has been strongly suggested that we not have pets in our rooms because of the pet dander & likelihood of allergic reactions of our students as well as the "biting" risk. We have 1 hamster and 3 parakeets in our building right now-- other than that, we have 4 fish tanks.

    Good luck with your decision...
     
  9. iluv1stgrd

    iluv1stgrd Rookie

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    Jul 10, 2006

    class pet

    I opted for a fish bowl in my second year and I have never regretted it. In fact my first bowl was only 1 gallon with no filtration, for a beta fish. He did fine. The next year I added another small tank but this one had filtration and I had 2 tropicals in there. This year I have gotten a 5 gallon octagonal tank (to save counter space) and I have put my tropicals in there, plus a few more, and put my beta in the 1gallon filtered tank. I put away the non-filtered bowl. I think I see a trend here;). Well, to make a long story short, my students have absolutely loved the tanks and they come back every year to visit the fish. Fifth grade messengers that come to the room gush over the tank also. It is a real hit! Danios, Platys, and Mollies are the toughest that I have found. They don't die too easily. You have to let the tank "season" though before you add fish, the few weeks before school starts would be good enough I think. I would keep the tank home until the fish acclimated. within a couple weeks you should know if they are going to last and can take the tank in to class then. What I am saying is it is very common for tropicals (not the beta) to croak on you within the first week. Good luck with your choice but my advice is a small aquarium!:p
     
  10. TheConspiracy

    TheConspiracy Companion

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    Jul 10, 2006


    LOL..... I really love my typos sometimes. (I am a visual thinker - SO I can't get hte image of the brady kids loking for their pet in the hamper out of my mind)

    The smell is really really not bothersome with any of the ferrets we have owned. We bathe them once every 3 weeks or so (doing so more often actually increases the smell) and they are sand-box trained so we just pooper scoop every day or two.

    My ferrets are my babies and they get spoiled. Our whole front patio is enclosed just for them to go out and play in. They are so funny- with the way they curve their backs and hop to the side when they are excited. I see them like having a perpetual kitten. They never lose their curiosity and playfulness (our previous ferrets who were 9 and 10 years old before they died were frisky to the end). They are very gentle and are known to generally only nip in the playful kitten sense (as ours do) and they are very affectionate (two of mine even give me kisses). Our current ferrets are kits (7 months old) and they are just lovers.

    ~J

    Here are two of my babies checking out the garbage can

    [​IMG]
     
  11. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Jul 10, 2006

    With Betas, I heard the dust from the classroom can really dirty up their unfiltered tank. Did anyone find that to be a problem?
     
  12. Mable

    Mable Enthusiast

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    Jul 10, 2006

    I recommend a Beta tank with a large filter. That is the easiest pet I know of. Guinea Pigs are smelly and take quite a bit of care. Hamsters are smelly and aren't kid friendly. Hermit crabs need daily care and turtles too. (Of course, this is my opinion as I've had all of these pets in the classroom).

    My Beta has been the easiest and the filter works wonders. He can go a month without changing.
     
  13. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Yes, my ex-ferrets kiss their owners. It is adorable. They haven't mentioned the odor either. They play a lot on the patio but also get the run of the house. I love to see them do their war dance!
     
  14. 6thgradeteacher

    6thgradeteacher Rookie

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    I had a guinea pig for several years. I even had the kids take him home on the weekends, so I wouldn't have to deal with it. I used this as a reward at the end of the week. The kids loved having a guest for the weekend. I also incorporated having them write down their adventures with Scooter in a class journal. They loved it!! I also sent a note home with the parents telling them how I was going to incorporate the pet into some of our units, and asked for donations of pine shavings. I NEVER had to buy supplies myself. They were always donated! Then, on Fridays, I had my class helpers help me change the cage during Recess. They didn't mind missing recess to help either. I did use plug ins in my class just in case, but none of the other teachers said they could smell anything. We enjoyed hearing Scooter grunt and squeal in the middle of the day at random times. Very funny silence breakers at times. Rest in Peace, Scooter! :)
     
  15. AZKinderTchr

    AZKinderTchr Comrade

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    My first thought is you need to check with your school to make sure it's okay to have pets. At our school nothing other than an aquarium is allowed. The liability anymore with allergies and possible bite scares administrators.

    One of my best memories of fifth grade was our class aquarium and we also had 2 newts! Sir Fig Newton (I remember this from 1985) got out in the school which we thought was hysterical.

    I am considering fish for my room. I have had betas in plastic containers on each table in my room before. The kids enjoyed it. I interned in a room where there was a pair of fish on each table and it was a type that has live birth so the kids took care of fishing out the babies and caring for the parents -- changing water, feeding, etc. Great lesson in responsibility.
     
  16. pingsrosie

    pingsrosie Rookie

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    Jul 10, 2006

    Hi,

    I feel like a guru when it comes to class pets. You nameit, I've had it or fed it to another one of my animals. It all started with a grow-a-frog (the marketing name for the african clawed frog). They are inexpensive, and un to watch because for the first year, you can see through its skin and the kids can watch its organs functioning. The website is www.growafrog.com . But please don't buy anything else from them other than the frog. Their tanks are a rip off. They leak and break easily. They eat just about any amphibian food, not just the food the sell. Any questions, I can be reached at MrsARossillo@aol.com.

    BTW, depending on your state's laws, you may not even be allowed to have mammals in your classroom because of student allergies.
     
  17. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    We have a classroom guinea pig, and no, she's not nocturnal. She does, however, require quite a bit of cleaning, and if that is neglected, she can get very stinky! I have an aquarium, not a cage, because this way, the kids can't poke their fingers in and get bitten (mine has never bitten, but I'm sure she would if she were afraid).

    I'd suggest that you look into gerbils. When my oldest daughter turned 7, she asked for a pet of her very own, and after doing some research, the two of us settled on a gerbil, and it was a great choice! Gerbils are not nocturnal, they require very little cleaning (I clean the gerbil about once a month versus the twice a week that the piggy needs), and they don't eat a lot. They are also not prone to biting. I just had to get over the long tail thing that reminded me of a mouse! But, really, she is very sweet and very easy to care for.

    I have had fish and swear that I will never again have fish. I can't keep them clean and alive.
    Kim
     
  18. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I'm with you on that. Dead fish make terrible pets.
     
  19. MelissainGA

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    Hi and congratulations first off on your job :) I bought Fishy the Fish (Kindergarten named the Betta, I know really creative bunch weren't they) and he made it from my first year until this past October (he meant an untimely demise when Midnight my cat decided he would be fun to play with and knocked his "transport bowl" off of the counter during Fall Break). I bought Fred the Guinea pig during my 1st year of 2nd grade here in Georgia. I couldn't have made a better investment for positive behavior reinforcement. My students adore him, he has not bitten anyone, even my student with allergies was able to pet him because he doesn't put off the type of allergens (sp) that a cat or dog does. Word spread last year and this among the 8 first grade classes that Fred was a member of my class they ALL want to be in my room, at least they almost all said they did, because taking care of Fred (giving him his guinea food and his carrots, apple and lettuce) is an assigned job. He isn't nocturnal he stays awake during class unless I turn on the classical music. He even takes part in conversations sometimes by "speaking" when someone rattles a plastic package. You can't go wrong with a guinea pig. Just make sure the kids know that as long as their behavior is appropriate the guinea pig stays, when they choose not to follow the rules he goes home. I haven't had to take Fred home except on holidays but once during 2 years.
     
  20. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    If you go with a betta, get a tank that's at least 2.5 gallons with heat and a filter. They're tropical and like warm water. Also, just because they CAN live in small amounts of stagnant water doesn't mean they PREFER that kind of habitat. Don't get too strong of a filter because they don't like lots of current in their water. When changing the water, never change ALL the water as that disrupts the nitrogen cycle in the tank and new, all "fresh" water can make them sick or kill them.

    Whatever you do, don't get goldfish! The fancy "round" kinds need a minimum of 10 gallons of water EACH with lots of filtration and 25% water changes about every 2-3 weeks. The "common" goldfish are pond fish and should NOT be aquarium kept. (I raise fancy goldfish . . . just in case you missed my avatar.)
     
  21. evil_twin2327

    evil_twin2327 Rookie

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    i am usually a lurker, but can i just say how happy i am to see someone promote the correct care of bettas? I have many, many bettas and love teaching my students how to correctly care for them (and how we shouldn't always listen to the people at the pet store). they make great pets and can live for 2-3 years of correctly cared for :)
     
  22. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Pet stores, especially large chain stores, are some of the worst places to find out information about fish. There's nothing sadder than seeing a betta--or worse, a goldfish--dying a slow death in a tiny bowl.

    I preach my "research your pets" and "be kind to fish" lecture quite often. I've had three bettas. Two lived to age 3, which is pretty good in "betta years", and the third disappeared from the tank. Yes, DISAPPEARED!

    Last year I had three tiny neon tetras in a 2.5 gallon tank. Over the summer they moved to my 55 gallon home tank. I bought three more babies for school this year.

    [​IMG]
     
  23. MisterG

    MisterG Comrade

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    When I started teaching....I was placed in a fourth grade room. I had no pets. After a month, I was bumped out of my position due to low enrollment and tossed in the only available spot...Kindergarten. When I took over that room, I took over the pets in that room which were 4 red-ear slider turtles. All one needed was a tank, water, a lamp...something for them to get up on and get a turtle tan and food. Of course, Im not a turtle expert so they might have needed more. They DID need a much bigger tank however, lol. Ideally you should have two turtles...not just one...and the more you have, the larger tank you should have. If you go to Petco or Petsmart...the turtles have huge tanks.

    Anywho...the turtles were on loan from a 5th grade teacher who also had a tarantula, some kind of bird (parakeet, do-do...lol I dont know what it was)...etc.
     
  24. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Sliders will grow to the size of their tank, too. so you have to be aware of that. If you put them in a small container, they'll never grow larger. If they are in a big tank, they grow to the size they need for that tank. It can happen at any point, too. Lucky lived in a small container for the first 3 years in our room (he was the size of a quarter when we got him.) Now he's in a 20 gallon tank and has grown much larger. He's at a good size. The kids can see all the details on his feet, head, etc, but not so big that I can't hold him with one hand. The kids love watching him follow a finger drug along the side of his tank. Every once in a while I get feeder fish, but I've learned to limit the numbers. I thought if I put in a dozen then they'd last a while. They didn't. He chased and ate them all. Now I only put a few.
    I think tarantulas are really cool, but they fall in that group of, I don't think I could touch them. So I will admire them from afar!
     

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