Forums / Life Science / Teaching about animal care

Life Science

Teaching about animal care

Author Post
Iris Par Iris Par 4015 Points

Hi i am a student in saint peters university studying to become a teacher. As a student, I have had one class pet. I know it is a affective way to teach students about animal care. However, will this work in a classroom now. There has to be a lot of considerations about it but it could help students know about what animals needs and what they do. Also what other kind of activity can help students know about animal care. 

Viviana Salinas Viviana Salinas 105 Points

I belive having a class pet does help in the studying of animals, but there are circumstances that you have to take in order to have a class pet. For example the students allergies, the size of the animal, the enviorment it can live in etc. A class pet can help the students learn different ways of an animal growing or the responsability it takes to take care of an animal. 

Question: Would having a reptile as a class pet a good idea? 

Marlee Boyle Marlee Boyle 1525 Points

Hello Iris! My name is Marlee Boyle. I am a preservice teacher from Wartburg College. A great idea is to have someone come in from a college or go visit a college campus where there is a science classroom with several animals. For example, I am taking a course where in the classroom, there are animals in every inch of the room. There are also tons of other animals across the building. If a guest from a college or university were to come into the classroom, you could have them share facts and stories about each animal. They could also strictly talk about proper animal care and potentially bring in animals if your class is comfortable. I hope this idea helps!

Marlee Boyle Wartburg College

Lauren Apodaca Lauren Apodaca 345 Points

I have pets in my classroom and I allow students to track humidity and temperature in the tanks.

Anne Lowry Anne Lowry 8763 Points

Pets in the classroom can be a great idea, but having had a variety of animals in and out of the classroom (sheep, rabbits, goats, fish, lizards, aquatic frogs), let me offer some logistics to consider. Some, I know are repeats. Please treat this as a living document and add to it!

Rules and regulations of your school / district

Alllergies of all involved: students, teachers, staff, families that might come in contact

Special habitat requirements: do they need heat 24/ 7, filters runnings, etc

Habitat maintenance: how often does the cleaning need to be done, and who is going to do it

Cost: who pays for the feed, habitat materials (bedding, replacement filters, etc). What about required shots and vet bills? Vet emergencies?

Breaks: who is either coming in to take care or who is taking the animals home. And how will the animal(s) be transported?

Closely related: imclement weather policies: if you have, let's say, rabbits outside, what do you do during extreme tempratures / bad air quality days?

Where is the animal going to go? What do you need to move / eliminate from your classroom to make room for the animal and all its belongings


I know that my tiny little classroom with a big window opted for 'adopting' the birds outside, putting up feeders, choosing plants birds we onserved liked, and essentially doing everything that we would do with a non-touchable pet indoors, with a lot less hassle


Hope this helps


(and yes, I just copied my posed from animals in the classroom; the two topics seemed very related) Happy Friday :) !

Danielle Sullivan Danielle Sullivan 1390 Points

Hey Anne! I am so glad that I came across your post. It is of great importance for teachers to consider having animals in the classroom environment. Although animals can be beneficial when teaching science, there is more to having an animal in the classroom, as you explained. Last month in my Teaching Elementary Science course, I learned about all of the factors that you discussed and another that you did not touch upon: the death of a classroom pet. My professor explained that the death of a classroom pet can be very upsetting for all students, especially the younger ones. She asked us to think about how we would handle the death of our own classroom pet as a teacher in regards to explaining death and loss to young elementary students. Students can also learn from this experience about the four stages of the animal life cycle. In this case, the students would be looking at the fourth stage: death.


Danielle Sullivan

Hannah Powell Hannah Powell 635 Points

Having a class pet can add multiple benefits to the classroom and to the students. Research has shown the benefits of pets in the lives of children and their impacts on the students in the classroom. Animals can teach students responsibility by giving them each a role to contribute to help take care of the pet’s needs. The students feel important to have these roles and can potentially help with behavior issues in certain situations.
However, having a class pet can have its downfalls. You must think about who will take care of the pet over breaks, holidays, and weekends and such. Some alternatives could be maybe showing a video in the last 10 minutes of class each Friday about different animals and their needs. Or deciding to have class plants instead of pets. Plants do not require the attention pets do and also this could eliminate the stress of making sure it is okay all of the time. Having plants still allows the students to have that sense of responsibility.  

Vanessa Juarez Vanessa Juarez 285 Points

Hello Hannah,

I agree with you in the aspect of of classroom pets being beneficial, and a positive experience in the classroom. I feel that when dealing with a pet it shows us how to be more responsible and how to be more conscious about animals lives, and how we should respect every animal as it it a living/ breathing organism. It also gives the students a feeling of having an important role when being able to help out with the classroom pet. It is something to really think about though i feel like when considering having a classroom pet it should not be an idea taken lightly and when considering adding a class pet, maybe the teacher would have to take in consideration that she would have to be the pet owner, and is in it for the long run. 

Question- Do you think having plants in the classroom would be okay if there are students with alergies? 

Rosa Gonzalez Rosa Gonzalez 285 Points

Hello Hannah Powell,

It it's very intresting that you reserach the benefits of having a pet in the classroom for students. I also, read in an article that having pets in a classroom reduces stress. I have a two pets that make my life happier and to be honest i don not know what i would do with out them. I think that its a great idea of incorporating pets to a classroom like you said to teach them responsibility by giving them each a role to contribute to help take care of the pet's needs and we are also contributing to encourage people to treat anaimls with respet because there is a lot of people that do not care about aniamals life or feelings. 

Question- What can we do as future teachers to encourage pets in a classroom?



Jazmin De leon jazmin de leon 20 Points

Hello Hannah

I find it very interesting to incorporate animals in a classroom they are wonderful resources for teachers to make learning fun in all subjects. I feel that students will approach learning more enthusiastic and interest in these subjects. Even kids that don’t have any kind of exposure to animals in their home could get to experience it in a classroom and it’s been proven by experts that having an animal instills a sense of responsibility and respect for life. And also, the presence of animals tends to lessen tension in the classroom.



Question:  If we have classroom pets as teacher would I need to get the parents permission?

Nicole Anthony Nicole Anthony 702 Points

As a student also, I feel that having a class pet is a great teaching tool for the students to learn about the care of animals and responsibility as well. I come from a background in environmental education that involves animals that are used for education and students were able to see what different animals require. I feel like using reptiles in the classroom is a great way for students to be introduced to the types of animals they are not used to seeing. This also reduces allergens as they do not have fur. The students will feel a sense of responsibility and they will feel important in maintaining the livelihood of that animal.  

Tyler Stark Tyler Stark 465 Points

I am a middle school science teacher, and am looking to incorporate more pets in my classroom. I currently have a fishtank, and was thinking of getting some sort of reptile. Any suggestions on reptiles that are easy to care for, and students would enjoy. I really want something that the students can handle, since a lot of students come hang out with me during lunch.

Zach Millan Zach Millan 639 Points

I've found that having a class pet has been beneficial in catching student's attention on a lesson when I'm able to introduce the class pet in the lesson's context. For example, one lesson we had compared our skeletal anatomy to the class pet's anatomy (a ball python). In terms of care, I have also used this as an ongoing review for what living things need to survive and incorporated basic care/upkeep into lesson reviews many times (ex. changing the pet's bedding to prevent infections when introducing the immune system). As long as students are able to understand the responsibilities of a class pet, my students have seemed to benefit from a class pet.

Cora Gomoll cora gomoll 2210 Points

I think having a class pet can be helpful when teaching students about natural life and how to care for animals or other living things. some students may have allergies it might be best to have an aquatic animal or reptile as a class pet. this might also be ideal because they are less common pets so the students could interact with something they might not have seen before and probably don't have at home. I think that a class pet can be great to inccorperate into science lessons and bring the class to make connections on something they have all experienced. I think it would be cool to innccoperate safe animals in the classroom on special events as well. For example, if the students are learning about small mammals and a student has a pet that matches the content they could bring it to school for the class to learn from. 

Samantha Hyde Samantha Hyde 1850 Points

I'm also a future educator and enjoy your question. I thought back to when I was in school and my first grade teacher had hermit crabs in her classroom. Thinking about how much my teacher incorporated our class crabs really drove the students to engage in the lesson. I still till this day say she was one of my favorite teachers. I remember our teacher let us take the hermit crabs home for a 'sleep over.' I was a great idea and I really enjoyed being able to feel responsible for taking care of another animal. The down side to her letting students take home the hermit crabs was that they wouldn't always return and depending on the classroom that can cause teasing and other situtations that you can avoid. I think a classroom pet is a good idea but I would not let them children take them home. There is other benefits to having a class pet to like, reducing children aniexty and stress level. Be aware of students allergies because that may cause you to have to get rid of the animal so I personally would make a pros and cons list and look at it from both sides. When looking at your style of teaching and you think having a class pet woud benefit you I would go for it. 

Anna Rood Anna Rood 325 Points

Anne really nailed it with all the considerations she mentioned. I have thought about having a class pet in my classroom, but never really thought of the ideas that Anne stated. I think that students would get a great understanding of pet/animal care from having a pet in the classroom, but there are a lot more factors that come into play that make having a pet a lot more difficult than one would think. I know growing up I had short-term pets in the classroom. In first grade, we raised tadpoles into frogs. We each had a bowl that we watched over with a couple of partners. We recorded their growth and everything we did to care for the tadpoles. We also raised beetles. They started off as mealworms and by the end of the cycle, we had beetles that we set free outside. My understanding of class pets is that they do not have to be long-term, but they can be living things that students can care for and learn from. We know a rabbit, hamster, bird, etc. would be fun, but that is a lot of work and some schools may not allow that. Keep it simple and educational!! Students find anything intriguing that does not involve sitting at a desk with a worksheet. 

Sydney Lane Sydney Lane 1690 Points

It's very important to consider allergies. Growing up, I was alergic to our class guinea pig! That was super not fun.

Samantha Bautista Samantha Bautista 480 Points


I think Anna has provided a great resource for current and future teachers who are looking to add a classroom pet whether it be short or long term. When I was in grade school I had a Physics teacher who had two snakes and a fish tank. It was quite strange since they were mainly used for entertainment/motivational purposes rather than educational. It was motivating in the way the teacher used the snakes, the student who had the higest score after quizzes or tests was allowed hold or feed the snake of thier choice (if they were comfortable). Viviana I think having a reptile as a class pet would be awesome! I knew alot of students who were only allowed small mammals as pets so the idea of having a reptile as a class pet was so intresting to them. You just might want to be wary of chosing a reptile since it is very hard to find an exotic/reptile animal vet. From my experience with reptiles I would say require much more care than small mammals and thier vet bills are also more expensive. 

Question: Generally, where is the line drawn in districts/schools when chosing a class pet? I saw someone say they had goats and sheep that was shocking to me, I assumed teachers were only allowed smaller animals in the classroom. 

Kayla Adame Kayla Adame 225 Points

Hi, I am currently a student at UTRGV. Having a class pet can give children a sense of responsibility, develop empathy, create enthusiasm, and can be used for lesson plans or a variety of subjects. However, teachers should consider student's allergies, risks, and other concerns for students and animal's health. I am very fascinated with the idea of having a class pet and will look more into it in the future.

Shiela Anne Vargas Shiela Anne Vargas 195 Points

Hello Kayla having pets in the classroom is such a wonderful thing. I used to have a bearded dragon and my students loved him so much. Before I placed him in my classroom I made sure to send home a note with my students to notify parents of our new classroom pet. Luckily all parents were on board and we had such a great time caring for him. Like you mentioned having a classroom pet gives studetns a great sense of responsibility, and it also helps them develop social skills. As far as health concerns I was the one who would clean out the terrarium and made sure it was always clean.

My students loved feeding Rango our bearded dragon. They first had to research the animal and learn about their habitat and what they ate. All in all having a classroom pet is so much fun and rewarding for all students. Thank You: Shiela Anne Vargas

Shiela Anne Vargas Shiela Anne Vargas 195 Points

Hello, my name is Shiela Anne Vargas and I am currently a teachers assistant at a middle school and I have had a bearded dragon as a classroom pet before and it was great. If you have ever had a fishtank in your classroom what type of fish would you recommend? Thank you

Kelcie Hale Kelcie Hale 230 Points

You can take the kids to an animal shelter to see what can happen if your puppy or kitty doesn't get taken care of the way it needs to.

Anderson SOULLMA Anderson SOULLMA 10 Points

I think this is a very good idea. It will make them more aware and they will take better care of the animals. But that's only if they don't want to get rid of the animals voluntarily. One of the other options is maybe to also take them to a veterinarian, which you can easily find on, so that the veterinarian can give them a good reason to take care of the animals.

Irish Thompson Irish 10 Points

There shared great tips, I would also ask someone who got a veterinarian degree or some students in this field and ask them who do they decided to go this way and help animals. The words of such people might make kids more interested in it and understand the importance of this profession and caring for aminals in general. I found here some interesting thoughts, maybe it helps you to get some materials to talk with kids. And the idea with shelter is good, but you need to know do your pupils have any animal phobias or allergy

Allie Caggiano Allie 10 Points

I had a class pet 'Shelly' the tortoise. I taught 8th grade life science. As long as administration is okay with you bringing in an animal and if you go over rules and expectations for handling the animal I think it is great! Even though Shelly is just a tortoise the students LOVED her and I even designed a project around her that really got the kids engaged. I will attach it to this post. We got into environment and ecosystems and I had the students design Shelly a new tank and present their ideas to the class with reasoning to why they chose the elements they did. 

student work example: 


JasonMaev JasonMaev JasonMaev 10 Points

Just wanted to jump in and say that as a fellow student, I totally agree with you that having a class pet can be a fantastic way to teach students about animal care. It not only helps them understand the needs of animals but also fosters a sense of responsibility and empathy. In addition to having a class pet, you may also consider reaching out to a team of dedicated veterinary professionals for expert advice on animal care. They can provide valuable insights and guidance, ensuring the well-being of the classroom pet and helping you design engaging activities for your students. Whether it's setting up a proper habitat, understanding dietary needs, or organizing health check-ups, their expertise can be a great resource.

Kristine Rowland Kristine Rowland 2290 Points

Hi there, I love the idea of a class pet. When my daughter was younger, her class had a pet hamster named Ruby. Each weekend, Ruby got to go home with the student!  That student would keep a journal of all of Ruby's adventures over the weekend and share the journal with the class on Monday.  If you didnt' want Ruby, they would not force you to take her. However, everyone wanted a chance to take her for at least once over the year. The journal was a great way of bringing in exta writing practice. I think having a class pet teaches a plethora of things:  responsibility, sharing, taking turns, measuring water and food, how to clean and care for another living thing, teaches compassion for living animals.  I have seen lots of different kinds of pets.  I think that will depend on the teacher, age of the students, allergies, size you have to keep a class pet. Hamsters are small and don't take up much room, but they are quick and can scare small students with sudden movements. Guinea pigs are great! They are friendly, but you have to clean the cage almost daily. Fish are nice, but you can't hold them. I have also seen rabbits, baby chicks, a fresh water shark tank, lizzards, snakes, etc. Just make sure you do your homework before choosing a class pet. Find something you and your students will both love and appreciate- because any type of pet is a huge responsibility. 

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers