View Full Version : Classroom Pet

08-28-2004, 07:40 PM
I posted on General a couple of weeks ago that I have been hired to teach Pre-K. One thing that the state people want us to have in our classrooms is some form of pet. My first thought was fish because I have had them before and am used to caring for them. I have never had any other kind of small pet.

The teacher who is leaving has a rabbit. I am not quite that ambitious. Does anyone have a suggestion for a good classroom pet? It would come home with me on school holidays, etc. I need something that is fairly easy to clean up after. I would appreciate any suggestions.

08-28-2004, 07:50 PM
Maybe a guinea pig? They're usually pretty good with kids as long as the kids are carefully supervised, and it's a small enough pet to travel to and fro with you ...

08-28-2004, 07:58 PM
I completely agree with Karen, a guinea pig could be a great classroom pet!

Try looking at cavyspirit.com about caring for them. I have a guinea pig (as seen in my icon) named Taffy. He is the sweetest thing. He doesn't bite at all and loves to be scratched behind the ears.

If you do get a guinea pig as a classroom pet try adopting. Like puppy mills, there are backyard guinea pig breeders. I didn't know that when I got taffy (I was only 5 or 6) and most guinea pigs coming from petstores have health problems. Taffy had lice when we brought him home.

If you have any questions on the general care of guinea pigs feel free to PM me. I love bragging about my baby and how well mannered he is!

BTW, an older guinea pig might be better for a class room pet since they are less skittish and more friendly. Boars (the males) are more outgoing and don't gets scared as easily as the sows. But the downside is they don't have very long life spans. normally around 6-8 years with good care. (Taffy is 7)

08-28-2004, 08:21 PM
Just a few more things....

I have a 6 year old sister who Taffy gets along great with. She finds great pride in being able to give him his nightly treat. I'm sure the kids in your class would get a kick out of helping you care for a furry friend!

If you do get a guinea pig, I would reccomend going to cavycages.com to find a cage style you can build at home for pretty cheap. I don't have on of their cages but they look really nice and easy to build.

A guinea pig (or two, they are better in pairs, if you do get a pair get two sows if you can not find 2 boars that will get along, if you are worried about fighting, just get 2 sows because they have less of a tendancy to fight) they would be ideal for a classroom pet. They do need attention just as any other pet would but don't need to be walked every day like a dog or cat. Caring for them is pretty easy. Their diet consists of pellets and one or two fresh vegetable 'salads' a day. They also need an all around the clock supply of timothy hay. (they get timothy after 1 year, but alfalfa while they are young since alfalfa has too much calcium) If you feed them the fresh foods at the same time every day they will start to 'whistle' if you are late with their treat!

Like I said before, guinea pigs do better in pairs or trios. They are very social animals and will bond with you very easily. If you do get 2 or 3 make sure they are the same sex so you don't add to the un wanted population of guinea pigs since in most shelters they don't last long.

I said in my last post that an older one might be better, but it seems to be more the guinea pig's personality. I have met some great 7 week old guinea pigs that love anyone and everything right when they meet and then I have met some that get very shy and tensed up and bite.

Ok, I'm through loading you down with information. If you need any more (which if you do decide to get a guinea pig, your probably will) just PM me. Look at your local library on guinea pig care books. Most of them are pretty accurate. But, don't follow what any pet stores tell you to do! When I got Taffy I was told they only need to be taken out once a month, that they don't like being housed with other guinea pigs, that Taffy was a girl (he is a boy, they sexed him wrong), that they live 2-3 years, and to use cedar bedding. All of that was wrong. Guinea pigs are very social and need companionship, if you aren't able to take them out every day for atleast a half hour they will need the companionship of another guinea pig. Cedar bedding is really bad for them. It causes an internol infection (I beleive that is what I read, it has something to do with the resperitory systom (sp?)) And the reason the petstore said they only live 2-3 years, because they give you the wrong care information. (They can normally live anywhere from 5-8 years with good health and the right care)

Well, good luck on your classroom pet and I hope your find the right one!

08-28-2004, 08:29 PM
What about a turtle or a frog a frog would be neat they could see it groe from a tadpole....

08-28-2004, 08:34 PM
probably a mouse or a gerbil!

08-28-2004, 08:37 PM
What about a turtle

They won't let us keep turtles. I found that out from another teacher the other day.

The guinea pig idea has possibilities, but I'm afraid that the size may be an issue. (not at school, but at home)

08-28-2004, 08:37 PM
The risk with reptiles and amphibians is saminella (sp?) It would be neat to see a tadpole turn into a frog, but they need very specific temperatures and housing requirements where guinea pigs adjust very easily to traveling. It would be hard to transport a reptile or amphibian because since they are cold blooded they absorb the heat from their heat lamp, and in the car there wouldn't be any.

08-28-2004, 08:42 PM
Originally posted by prechrswife

The guinea pig idea has possibilities, but I'm afraid that the size may be an issue. (not at school, but at home)

Do you mean cage size or the actual size of the animal? Because with cages, I don't really follow the 'rules' of cavycages.com. Taffy's cage here is only 30 inches by 17 1/2 inches. Its a pretty good size for him, and he is a pretty large guinea pig! You could also get a smaller travel cage to serve as his weekend home. :)

08-28-2004, 09:17 PM
A pair of dwarf hamsters can be quite engaging and entertaining...they're busy all the time. They take up very little space, and are easy to keep amused. :)

08-28-2004, 09:46 PM
guinea pig's r GREAT at school.

A teacher WAY WAY WAY back in grade school had them in her classroom. She was a breeder so the kids got to learn about sex-ed (it was grade 4) & they got to watch the mommies giving birth & watch the babies grow up. & the kids in the class got first dibbs at the end of the year to take one home forever. But they had to prove they loved & could care for one, by caring for the ones in the classroom.

The cage in the classroom was about the size of 6 single school desks. It was made by her husband & it was wooden on the outside & plexie glass on the inside so it was easy to clean & not rot the wood. It was about 2 feet tall with no lid.

Reptiles can kill a child under 11 & adults over 60. The bacteria is more deadly to these ages (love discovery channel).

& mice, rats, & hamsters tend to nip, which is bad for a classroom. But I hardly ever hear of people of being bitten by guinea pigs. I'm sure it has happened, but less likely (someone please correct me if I'm wrong on this part). Also these critters r small (except the rat), but they r much harder to find if I child sets it down & it runs away. I think guinea pig's r slower critters & just don't like to run off like a mouse would, or atleast all the guinea pigs I knew didn't run off. They ran a few feet, stopped & ran again checking things out.

& a guinea pig cage isn't too big inside a house. u can get them a small one aslong as u let them out often. But one that is atleast 3 feet long cage would be perfect for a temp house guinea pig.

08-28-2004, 10:00 PM
Do you mean cage size or the actual size of the animal?

More cage size than animal size.

I appreciate all of the advice. I've also e-mailed my sister-in-law, the vet, for her input. I'll keep researching and let you know when I've made a decision.:)

08-28-2004, 10:41 PM
I had a turtle in my Kindergarten class,and everyone got to feed and hold it,it was fun!! i would recommend a turtle b/c there clean and not to hard to take care of!

08-28-2004, 11:18 PM
A guinea pig or a hamster would be a good pet. Guinea pigs are great for kids. Well behaved kids of course. ^_^

To make sure the pet is well taken care of though, it is best, as you mentioned, for you to take it home. Not just on vacations - but on weekends too. Guinea pigs need feeding and water every day. And make sure you do your research on care, whatever pet you pick.

and chrissycat21 gave some great advice.

Good luck!

Aspen and Misty
08-29-2004, 12:29 AM
Ever thought about two female rats?

They don't stink. They are VERY clean. They are freindly. Unlike hamsters they aren't fear biters. When afried they freeze and don't move. They are GREAT fun to watch and hold and play with. They don't need TONS of care. Just bedding changed weekly, water and food daily and some out of cage time daily. They could have a small, carrying cage that you took them home in on the weekends. Something to keep them well roomed and happy but not to big to take over your house.

That would be my first choice.


08-29-2004, 12:44 AM
I was going to say a rat or two as well. They are small and friendly. I've heard from people that keep them that males are more friendly. (You can neuter them and they wont have that musky odor...most vets will do it for free if they know its a class pet.)

Whatever you decide, let us know. That's exciting! :)

08-29-2004, 02:18 AM
Thats so exciting. I think it is a great idea for a guinea pig for a pet! You need to do your research and NEVER trust a pet store. I got 3 of my guinea pigs there. My first one died (Angel)with in a few months because of a sickness it developed most likly at a pet store. But before she died I bought Abby though, she was so cute and they kepy eachother company, but when Angel died i needed to get Abby another friend, so I got another "female" GUinea pig named Angie, well soon enough we found out she wasnt female and we have 2 babies. Then we had 10 other babies. But i developed a allergy:( so i had to give them all away, but i gave them to a guinea pig organization so that they wont have any chance of been put down! and Abby and Angie got to go to a new home together, and teh first babies got to go to a home together(sam and molly)
They dont bite often, and there easy to take care of, and mine were addicted to Timothy hay.

08-29-2004, 07:57 AM
Thanks wolfie!

I know some of you have suggested hamsters, but from my experience I'm not sure if they would be the greatest class room pet from my experiences with them. They sleep all day and than are up all night. Plus, they bite a lot. (Or atleast mine did) Plus, if you do take them out duiring the day, they tend to love exploring small places gone unnoticed by humans.

Guinea pigs do get scared and many run for 'cover' under a desk or some sort of overhang, so Taffy always h as his 'pigloo' so if he gets scared he goes under that.

08-29-2004, 02:31 PM
First of all, thanks for all of the great advice. If circumstances were different, a guinea pig would be a great idea. However, after thinking things through, I think I am going to stay with my original idea of a fish. It just makes more sense in my present situation. We have a good place at home to keep a small aquarium, and the cats cannot get to it. I also only intend to teach until we start our family, so this could be a job that only lasts for a year. Whatever pet I get will have to come home with me permanently at that point. Since we already have 3 cats and 2 dogs, I do not think that we need to take on anything that requires a lot of attention. It wouldn't be fair to the animal. Children are resilient, so they will learn to be okay with the fish. Again, thanks so much!:)

08-29-2004, 04:40 PM
I'm glad that you thought things through and kept the animal in mind. :)

If you don't want to take the fish home on the weekends you can buy weekend feeders. They work well. :)

08-29-2004, 05:10 PM
Originally posted by chrissycat21
I'm glad that you thought things through and kept the animal in mind. :)

If you don't want to take the fish home on the weekends you can buy weekend feeders. They work well. :)

What are weekend feeders? I have a fish pond outside, but i have never heard about weekend feeders.:D

08-29-2004, 05:45 PM
well good luck with the fish!:)

08-29-2004, 10:50 PM
You can buy mechanical fish feeders pretty inexpensively, it can automatically feed the fish for you every day so that A: the kids can't accidentally over-feed the fish and B: It will feed them for you while you're away for the weekends.

Just a random thought from a pet store employee. :)

08-29-2004, 11:31 PM
My fish guy told me not to feed my fish more then once every 2-3 days.

I feed my goldfish once a week (put they r in a pond).

When I had pet goldfish, I fed them every 2-3 days & they lived for almost 10 years. When I fed the goldfish everyday they didn't live too long at all.

08-30-2004, 05:32 PM
My daughter had 2 boy rats in her fifth grade class, they pretty much belonged to the teacher. One of them got sick and died and when summer came the teacher was pregnant and knew we had 2 females so she asked us to take the boy.

Rats are pretty high maintenance...they do like to be clean.

08-30-2004, 06:52 PM
Originally posted by kingrattus
& mice, rats, & hamsters tend to nip, which is bad for a classroom. But I hardly ever hear of people of being bitten by guinea pigs.

Most mice never bite.

Mice would be a nice idea because they don't bite and they are easy to take care of. Fairly inexpensive, too. A downside is that they don't often return to their cage if they get "lost" so they would have to be VERY closely supervised.

08-30-2004, 06:53 PM
guess I should have read the post through.

Congrats on the fish!

08-30-2004, 06:59 PM
You should get a betta! They can live over 5 months,can be cleaned only once a week and won't die of too much food intake. My betta is well over 5 months old,gets fed everyday gets cleaned when he gets stinky(hehe). I just gave him a bouncy ball to float around in his bowl, he likes to push it around,lol, it's cute!

Cinder & Smoke
08-30-2004, 07:10 PM
Originally posted by prechrswife

Children are resilient,
so they will learn to be okay with the fish.


Miz Teacher, sitting at her desk,
notices lil Tommy...
sitting at HIS desk,
*intently* stroking sumpin in his cupped hand.


Teach: "Uhhh, Tommy, Dear ~ What'cha doin??"

Tommy: "Jest Pettin da Phish, Teach!"


08-30-2004, 09:14 PM
i agree with a rat or two. they arnt fear biters like hamsters. and they are very sweet. they can be taught tricks and they will gladly just sit on your sholder and hang out. you can also teach the kids that they are good clean animals and not rabies infested like their parents might think.

08-30-2004, 10:00 PM
Tommy: "Jest Pettin da Phish, Teach!"

LOL! With preschoolers you just never know! :D

You should get a betta! They can live over 5 months

I actually did get a betta. He is mostly blue, but also has some red and green on him--very pretty. His name is "Rainbow" after the children's book The Rainbow Fish.

I have had bettas before. They are very easy to take care of. I have had some that have lived much longer than 5 months. My mother has one now that she has had for 2 or 3 years.

08-30-2004, 11:26 PM
My mom aides in an EMI class that had a pet betta named Spot. He died this summer after living three and a half years.

08-30-2004, 11:28 PM
i had a betta live for 5 years, they arnt very active though.

08-31-2004, 04:18 PM
I had a betta named Rainbow. So did my 1st grade teacher! '

Good luck with Rainbow!

08-31-2004, 04:52 PM
i have a betta named fishy blue bubbles, i have had him for about a year now, i have no clue hiw old he was when i got him though. he is suprisingly strong, and pretty active too, when I turn off his light he lowers to the bottom of his tank and rests till I turn the light back on in the morning, during the day he will pick up gravel and throw it at the side of his tank lol he is pretty active all around :p I have never had a betta(or any fish for that matter) live this long before :p and the only thing I am doing different is i bought him a little betta tank, instead of keeping him in the 10 gallon, all the bettas i have ever had in that thing only lived for like 2 weeks. :(

08-31-2004, 06:16 PM
Rainbow is in a one gallon aquarium. I just don't like those little betta bowls.

08-31-2004, 08:02 PM
I got my betta in April this year. He is red with green which in some angles he is purple(he was a bit more purple there when I first got him). His name is Sexy, I named him when I was hyper,teehee. He's not so much of a tough betta, he usually doesn't puff out his gills. It's fun to watch him eat and swim around, he really likes my aquarium lamp which is right beside him and he always sleep in his fake plastic seaweed. I saw some pretty cool betta's at Ruffin's today, I really like the pearly ones with pink and green with blue fins:D I think their called opaque. I also saw a female one! I've never seen a female one for sale before! Once my Sexy goes down the toilet(hopefully that day doesn't come soon, I love my Sexy) I am going to get an opaque one. I had a mino I caught from the lake in with him and he just looked at it funny and kept swimming, it eventually died since you can't keep mino's in captivity, they die quickly anyway. Anyways here's a pic of my Sexy:

08-31-2004, 08:06 PM
And here's my sisters betta....Herman. He is blue and green, he is pretty big and is always getting mad at his reflection. My sister got him a pineapple betta bowl but it made him run out of oxygen and he nearly died!:eek: She put him back in his old bowl and he still is alittle woozy, she always has to poke him to see if he's alive!

08-31-2004, 08:58 PM
I think a mouse or rat would be ideal, this is usually what our schools have, however I have often been a bit concerned about the care of School pets, IMO it has not been of a high standard in our schools, children volunteer to take the pets home on school holidays here, who knows how good they are at taking care of them, and too many of them have died.

I know you will take good care of the Pet, and I wish you well, its good to beable to teach children to be responsible at a young age for animals, some donot have that experience , so through the school they can, GOOD LUCK!!