Best Classroom Pets
Teaching methods and practices evolve over time, but one thing that remains consistent is the presence of the classroom pet. Not only is a pet in the classroom fun, it’s also a great teaching tool, enticing kids to take an interest in animals, biology and animal care in an environment that fosters shared responsibility.
However, not all classroom pets are created equal. Some animals make for good class pets, while others are not so ideal. (As we’ve previously established, owls do not make good pets, for classrooms or otherwise.) Read on to find out which furry and scaly creatures are well-suited to life in the classroom.
Easy Classroom Pets
The best class pets are easy classroom pets. Toward that end, here are a few animals that can thrive in a classroom environment.
According to a number of sources, bearded dragons make for the best classroom pets. Their name may be intimidating, but in reality, they’re gentle and inquisitive, and once they’ve settled into classroom life, they become active and quite personable. The lizards also take well to gentle handling and can be used as a hands-on way for students to learn about the natural world. Although bearded dragons come with higher up-front costs than other classroom pets, once those are accounted for, caring for them is fairly simple and straightforward. With heat, light, and a calcium-supplemented diet, bearded dragons are happy campers who love attention.
While not as interactive as some of their other classroom pet counterparts, fish have particular benefits for younger students. Along with teaching children about feeding, water changes, and the other maintenance that goes along with keeping fish healthy, having a fish tank in the classroom is thought to exert a calming influence over fidgety youngsters. Getting to know fishy friends motivates kids to protect our planet and start developing environmentally conscious habits like saving water and recycling plastic.
You’ll find rats on just about any list of best classroom pets. Indeed, many of us likely shared space in a classroom with one of these highly social furry friends. Rats tend to be good-natured, enjoy being handled, and are easy to care for. Even better, rats are extraordinarily clever and some can even be taught to do tricks—for treats, of course. As far as care goes, they don’t require special equipment, save for a sturdy cage that locks up tight. Rats are known escape artists.
As far as traditional classroom pets go, a tortoise is a classic. They’re best for students in middle or high school rather than younger children, but kids of any age tend to be fascinated by tortoises. Unlike turtles, tortoises don’t need to live in an aquarium and prefer a natural environment with greenery and dirt or sand for digging. While not the most outgoing animals, tortoises do become conditioned to human interaction. When cared for well, a tortoise can be a familiar face to kids and their parents who graduated years ago.
Benefits of Classroom Pets
According to the nonprofit group Pets in the Classroom, which provides grants to teachers for their classroom pets, the benefits of classroom pets are many. They offer practical, real-world ways to instill lessons in math, science, geography, and more. They provide enrichment for students by teaching them responsibility, sensitivity to the natural world, increased empathy, and other valuable lessons. Studies have shown that exposure to pets can improve immune function. Classroom pets help students learn to nurture and can build self-esteem. Caring for a pet can even help improve attendance.As mentioned, owls are not appropriate classroom pets. But caring for classroom pets can work in tandem with hands-on learning experiments like dissecting owl pellets to give students a broader and more comprehensive understanding of the natural world. For more information or to purchase owl pellets, please contact us!