Is your classroom ready to provide total pet care 100% of the time?

Educators have successfully kept animals in the classroom for decades. From an aquarium full of goldfish to the hamster who roams the classroom floor in his roller ball, there is no doubt that critters are a great educational tool. But there is more to keeping a classroom animal than just buying a cage and a bag or two of food. A classroom pet depends on you for its health, happiness and well-being. Is your classroom ready for the responsibility? And what sort of animal is the right one for your needs?

Here are some things to think about before choosing a classroom pet:

  • Animals need food, water and a clean, safe environment. Most of all, they need regular attention and nurturing. You must be prepared to provide for their needs on an ongoing basis.
  • A pet needs to feel safe and protected from chaotic surroundings. You must make sure your animal has a safe place to hide when it feels overwhelmed by attention or classroom noise.
  • For health and safety, you must stick to the animal’s regular diet. Absolutely no bits of sandwich or candy can ever be permitted.
  • Some animals need to roam outside their cage periodically in order to stay healthy and happy. Can you provide a safe and secure setting for this?
  • How will pets be cared for on weekends and holidays? If the pet goes home with a student, a parent MUST be held responsible for the animal’s care.
  • If the pet becomes ill, are you prepared to care for it? You should keep a vet’s phone number handy in case of emergency.
  • Oops, it turns out you’ve got a boy and girl hamster/rabbit/goldfish. Are you prepared to accommodate babies? Will you spay or neuter your larger pets?
  • Are allergies a problem for your students? Be sure to take this into account when choosing the type of animal to bring into the classroom.
  • Companion animals can carry diseases so proper precautions need to be taken to ensure your students’ safety and that of your animal.  Are you prepared to implement appropriate safe animal handling practices?

Whether it’s a rabbit or parakeet, a goldfish or a turtle, the right pet will reward you and your students with a world of companionship and learning opportunities.

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