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Classroom Pets – What You Need to Know!

The summer has blown by and back-to-school is just around the corner! Are you a teacher or a parent? Did you have a classroom pet when you went to school? Maybe you’re a student who’d like to have one?Classroom pets offer a variety of cool and interesting ways to learn and engage students. They are also an obligation though. Let us walk you through some of the ups and downs!

What sort of animal makes a good classroom pet?

Not a dog or a cat for sure! Low maintenance animals are best. Ideally, it’s not a critter that needs to be taken home every night, is small and doesn’t cause classroom disturbance.

  • Guinea Pigs – Small, relatively quiet. They require minimal care, are generally calm and easy to handle. You will need to have a pair though to prevent boredom and loneliness.
  • Hamsters – All the same features of a guinea pig, but smaller. They do tend to be nocturnal though, so students will see less of their prime activity hours.
  • Lizards – Iguanas, bearded dragons, and the like make super low maintenance classroom pets. Their needs will vary slightly depending on the type you get but they usually require less food, interaction, and are easy to handle.
  • Rats – Nice clean pet shop rats (not the ones from the alley!) are a super smart and active classroom pet. Students can spend time building mazes and test the rat’s brain power! They are also less likely to bite than hamsters or mice.
  • Fish – Probably the lowest maintenance pet, but also likely the one with the least amount of reward. They can add a nice, calming atmosphere to the classroom though and make good study subjects for aquatic science! Also, consider hermit crabs!

Classroom Pet Pro’s

Pets in the learning space can provide exciting new ways for students to engage with their curriculum. Animals can frequently be easily incorporated into math (animal weight, food measurements), science, and even history, social studies, and literature! They also instill a sense of responsibility and respect for life in children. They can also have a great calming effect on nervous or upset students. Plus, parents might appreciate seeing how their student interacts with a classroom pet before committing to one in the home!

Classroom Pet Con’s

Most of the cons have to do with the added responsibility on the teachers part. Teachers are, ultimately, responsible for the welfare of the pet. They need to ensure students are performing daily feedings and care properly and that the pet’s living space is kept clean. They are also responsible for vet visits (though some schools may foot the bill), shots, and spaying/neutering. It’s also important for the pet to have a place to go during vacations, or even the weekends depending on the animal.  It’s also suggested that parents give their expressed permission for their child to interact with the school pet, in the case of a rogue bite or scratch.

photo credit: Ukelens Guinea Pig Photoshooting Selection via photopin (license)

Back-to-School and What It Means For Pets

As July nears an end those three dreaded words every child fears start popping up everywhere – back-to-school. Two to three months of summer adventures come to a close leaving some parent’s relieved for their households to resume their usual routine. But what about pets? Whether you’ve adopted a new pet over the summer months or have the same family friend, back-to-school time can be rough on them. As adults head out the door in the morning for work and daily errands and children rush off to the school bus pets are often left home alone for the majority of the day.


Make sure you are still meeting their basic needs. Sometimes in the rush to get everyone out the door on time, a pet can be overlooked. This can be a problem any time of the year but especially during the first back-to-school months when routines are being formed. Your family may find it helpful to use a dry-erase board on the refrigerator to make a morning pet checklist.

Pets don’t like back-to-school time any more than their

owners do…

Back-To-School Checklist Ideas

  • Ensure that dogs have been let out for a bathroom break and quick exercise
  • Make sure cats, bunnies, or other pets have clean litter boxes
  • Fresh food and water should be provided
  • Shoes, cords, and other things your pet shouldn’t be into are placed safely out of their reach
  • Windows and doors that may give them access to restricted areas are closed
  • Necessary medications are administered

Keep an eye out for depression too. After a summer of constant play and companionship, it’s not unusual for your pet to be sad and a little lost once all the humans run off to do other things. Until your pet has an opportunity to adjust to the new family routine consider asking a friend to stop by and check on them or hiring a pet walker or pet nanny. Someone stopping by during the day can make sure their needs are being met and give them a little mid-day attention.

Make the most of the evening time and be patient. You may have had a full day of socializing but your pet hasn’t. Any hyperactivity or persistent demands for affection have to be understood from your pet’s point of view. After back-to-school as homework and extracurricular activities pile up remember the importance of making your pet a priority. Those other things are important too, but a pet is a living responsibility. If you feel your lifestyle will prevent you from providing the love that’s needed, you should reconsider before getting a pet or taking on those extracurricular activities.

Remember parents, while the pet may belong to your child, as the adult you are ultimately responsible for making sure its needs are being met. Don’t make pets victims of the back-to-school frenzy!

photo credit: Academic Cat via photopin (license)