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I've started teaching in a school that I love! I hope if things go well I can stay there for a long time. In this particular school the classrooms can have class pets, and I've seen a big variety of class pets. I've been considering getting a pair of rats (not taking my guys/girls from home) to bring in as our class pets. From what I can tell in the other classrooms the kids are very helpful with the animals, and during the classes they literally will just pass the class pet down the line and let them roam on their desk or sit on their shoulder ect.

I know on all rat sites I've visited it's always been a big push to encourage showing others that rats are great pets, intelligent and not disgusting. I thought "this would be a great way to try that!" What do you guys thing? Obviously I would still be doing the major caretaking of these animals, and I go in and work on the weekends. It's not like they would be left there alone with no attention. I know with the kids we would have to spend some time talking about the best way to handle them and what they should and shouldn't do ect, but I thought it might be a great learning experience for the kids.

What do you guys thing? Are there any teachers out there that have done this? Successful or not I would love to hear about it.
 

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I wouldn't but I have a bias against children and do not think they should be around animals for the safety of the animal.

If you did go forward I would advise a pair of older, large, heavyweight males that are relaxed and calm. They will be able to handle any mistakes without easily getting injured, move more slowly than babies or females, and males tend to be much more cuddly and calm.
 

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I have never been in a class that had a class pet but my brother did. They had a guinea pig (forget it's name) that lived for a couple years (or more I'm not sure, I was young at the time) and the teacher even let students take it home on occasions (my brother got it twice before it unfortunately passed away) but I think rats would be good for younger classes that can play with them and give them the attention they need since as people grow older they tend to lose the want to play. Personally I don't know about leaving them in the class room over night though but that's just me since I get really anxious when I don't have them around me or easy for me to check on.
 

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My high school biology teacher kept a chinchilla as a classroom pet for a bit but had to take it home because kids would poke him through the bars with fingers, pencils, really whatever they could get a hold of. They shoved paper and plastic and who knows what else into the chinchilla's cage. Also the classroom was always really loud. It was just a really stressful environment for the poor chinchilla. If you did get a class pet I would suggest getting something that could be kept in a tank like an interesting fish, hermit crab, or small lizard/snake. That way the kids wouldn't be able to poke the animal.
 

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It depends on the age of the students you're having handle them and the particular class you have themselves. For some classes, this would be great! For others... a disaster.

However, the whole not letting kids handle small animal things is exactly why so many small animals end up being neglected or abused by even older owners. If you never had dogs as a child, you'd have a super hard time learning how to train/deal with them when you were an adult if you'd never been exposed to them before. Accidents with pets and children happen when children aren't properly taught beforehand how to handle animals.

If you're using them for younger children, I would go through "lessons" first - get little rat-sized pillows and teach all the children how to pick them up, carry them, etc, etc. Only let the most soft-handed children handle the rats first, then as the other kids start to pick it up by the modeling, they can handle them as well, with hawk-like supervision.
 

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Mammals don't make good class pets and I hate seeing them in class. Maybe for high schoolers in an advanced Biology class but Elementary/Grade school is to risky. Even if you go in every weekend, there will still be large periods of time left alone in a dark and hot or cold classroom. Every school I have ever been go turns off their AC at night and on weekends, or has it run very limited. You would have to have a plan for breaks and summer as well. Do kids take them home, do you take them home? It is also a loud and noisy enviorment that can be very stressful, and the lights in most schools are harsh. And you might have good kids now but all it takes is one. Heck you even have to worry about the janitors. My AP Bio teacher had a near perfect self contained saltwater tank that the janitors and some adult ESL students who barrowed the class one time, destroyed. Most classes don't have the space needed for most animals aside from maybe mice or hamsters. My daycare as a child had a bun. Someone took him home every weekend and a kids brother killed him. Threw him at the ground. I'd second either a fish tank (with lid) or calm reptile. Something easier to control its enviroment.
 

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It just isn't very practical as others have stated. Children in a classroom setting are too unpredictable and I can guarantee that accidents will happen. It is difficult enough teaching one child how to handle and treat an animal correctly, let alone a classroom of kids. I understand what you are trying to accomplish, but I just do not think it is a great life for a pet.
 

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I agree with Pandorascaisse, depends on the age of the children. I honestly think the rats would be safer with a younger age group rather than older. Being taught how to treat a living creature with love, care, and kindness before they can be corrupted is such a great idea. You could also teach them about classical conditioning! Bonus!
I don't think allowing the kids to take them home would be wise. I also don't think it would be ok for them to be left alone for breaks or long weekends. But, if you already own rats you know all of that.
My vote: go for it!
 

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I say go for it, but be very wary. Since you're new to the school, take a bit to get a feel for the types of kids you'll have in your class (yes, I know, they'll be different every year, but you can get a feel for the age group). There are so many things that can go wrong, but I feel like proper preparation and planning could help to avert most disasters. If you decide against the rats, I suggest a good hardy omnivorous lizard (preferably one that can't lose its tail >.<).
 

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Whatever you do please don't get a reptile.

They have very delicate systems, much more so than any mammal, are more likely to bite (depends on species) and it's very easy to roast or freeze one out if a child tampers with heating or lighting.

There is no place for such a creature in a classroom. They deserve better. Frankly so do rats but they are more forgiving and understanding than most reptiles and harder to kill by accident.

Really, I wouldn't do it at all. It makes my stomach churn to think of it. A school is high stress no matter how you cut it.

Maybe an ant farm or even a nice madagascar hissing roach or a colony would be much better choices. Or millipedes. None of the above are super sensitive or delicate, not easy to stress, not dangerous, really easy to care for, and awesome look don't touch pets. All herbivores. Kids can be involved in feeding them things like bananas and strawberries.
 

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This comes back around to the never-ending rant about getting kids pets. It's ultimately the job of the adult to make sure that the animal has what it needs and that nothing is being tampered with. Honestly, it's not all gloom and doom with kids. Yes, there are going to be some little jerks in the making out there that want nothing more than to pester a poor animal, but that's why it's up to the adult in the room to separate that child from the animal. I personally think that reptiles are a wonderful learning resource since most kids probably don't have a reptile in their home and they're so different in the way that they live. As I said before, getting a feel for the situation first is essential. If it's a public school where they're now cramming 40 kids into one classroom, then no, that's just an accident waiting to happen. But in a small classroom, I think it would be a wonderful education opportunity.
 

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Kinsey, I feel like many more kids would be freaked out by hissing cockroaches or millipedes than even a snake. There's also the fact that if some kid goes home and says "mom! we have cockroaches in the classroom!" that really probably wouldn't go over very well. Quite a few parents would overreact to it.
 

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Maybe things have changed a lot since I was a kid, but my science classes growing up always had snakes, tarantula's and other reptiles and insects. Seemed popular during my middle school years. Most of the science teachers took them home during any long breaks. I don't recall any problems, but the ones I remember them having fairly elaborate set ups. Only one the teachers allowed touching and she had a very large snake of some sort. It was really pretty cool.

children at really young ages-I think I would rather have animals that are more of something you watch than interact with. Preferably something that doesn't mind being in a cage, can handle some touching, but doesn't really require a lot of human companionship. Some of the larger bugs do come to mind. :) Antfarms are interesting as well, though don't last long. Some of smaller rodents maybe. My 2nd grade class raised Monarch butterfly larva-I'll never forget it. The release was so beautiful.

What is fun for them however, is to ask local good rescues to come in and speak about their specialty and bring some really nice ones in that the kids can pet. I used to do regular visits when I ran the ferret rescue to the elementary schools. I would bring a couple of my own ferrets that were really mellow and liked children. We started this when a teacher called me to ask questions about keeping a ferret as class pet. visiting seemed a better option for an animal that has high companionship/out of cage time needs.

Maybe you have local rescues-you could make it a monthly or twice a month thing. You could have domestic type pet rescues and even wildlife rehabbers, exotics ect. Makes it a little educational.
 

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I have a rat that is a former classroom pet. I have no idea what happened to him, but he is definitely traumatized. He abhors being picked up to the point that he would rather leap to his doom on the ground than be held. He is a real sweetheart, but rarely leaves his igloo. Sometimes if the cage is open, he'll wander out a little, but if I move he'll dart right back into his igloo. I can pet him, but I try and do it with just one finger so he doesn't think he's going to get picked up or grabbed or anything. He does not like to be picked up even in the cage. He definitely has PTSD. He's never tried to bite or anything, just super shy and happy to stay in his igloo. He has his sons with him now and I think he likes their company. But he sure does not trust people.
 

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Mammals don't make good class pets and I hate seeing them in class. Maybe for high schoolers in an advanced Biology class but Elementary/Grade school is to risky. Even if you go in every weekend, there will still be large periods of time left alone in a dark and hot or cold classroom. Every school I have ever been go turns off their AC at night and on weekends, or has it run very limited. You would have to have a plan for breaks and summer as well. Do kids take them home, do you take them home? It is also a loud and noisy enviorment that can be very stressful, and the lights in most schools are harsh. And you might have good kids now but all it takes is one. Heck you even have to worry about the janitors. My AP Bio teacher had a near perfect self contained saltwater tank that the janitors and some adult ESL students who barrowed the class one time, destroyed. Most classes don't have the space needed for most animals aside from maybe mice or hamsters. My daycare as a child had a bun. Someone took him home every weekend and a kids brother killed him. Threw him at the ground. I'd second either a fish tank (with lid) or calm reptile. Something easier to control its enviroment.
This.

I'm not a fan of classroom pets in general.

As someone else said--it ends up not being a great life for the pet(s) involved.

The issues with temperature control, access of other staff and kids to the room, breaks and days off, etc, etc, all that in addition to the dangers posed by handling accidents with the kids themselves.

Having worked for years in guinea pig and rabbit rescue (and the occasional hamster or gerbil), I can tell you the ones who come in as abandoned classroom pets (not saying you would do this) are usually fairly traumatized, and they don't typically live the normal lifespan of that species.

Could you somehow do a virtual pet? Like, sponsor a pet at a sanctuary or rescue? Show videos of the pet, let the kids be involved in choosing who you sponsor, do some class projects for the animal, perhaps get the rescue or shelter to bring the animal in for a meet-n-greet/visit one day?
 

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I think a pair would be great if you took them home every evening. Like most said leaving them there wouldnt be right. When I was younger wr had a class pet that was a rat and we got to take him home on the weekend. Thats how I came to love them. So as someone who was introduced to rats as a young child who kept that love for them, I think its a great idea with some tinkering.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I'm not sure what type of school you guys attended, but in from the south. Almost every student I have lives on a farm(I live on a farm). They know how to be respectful of animals and frankly I wouldn't tolerate mishandling anyway. I work from 6 am- around 8 pm at night, so they wouldn't be lonely. The janitors actually had pet rats and we talk about them often. I would be perfectly fine with any pet I had being around him. My classes are also small 15 kids is a large class for me. Teachers rotate taking class pets home. Some teachers have snakes, GP and rats. I've honestly not seen a case of mishandling, and our kids are so well behaved.

I asked for opinions, so I'm not getting all defensive honestly, but I'm surprised by the lack of confidence in children. Most of my students have to get up at five to help on the farm before school. I'm extremely confident they would enjoy and respect a class pet or I wouldn't even consider getting one. Again not being defensive just explaining my class and setting and my own confidence in these students.
 

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I think that being a rat owner you have a lot of knowledge and you would be willing to teach the kids and put a lot of time into it. I agree that there are things that could potentially go wrong, but properly supervised I think this could be a great idea. Kids need to be taught about animals and how to handle them, I see this as a brilliant opportunity to do so. I think you would probably need to take them home at weekends though? I second getting a couple of older relaxed males rather than hectic girls. We need to get more animal education across to children, animals are such a huge part of our lives and their popularity is constantly growing. Children need to understand how to care for them properly. If it doesn't work out and you can see the rats becoming unhappy/unwell...well hey two new rats for you!!! I don't think you should let the kids take them home either, rats are quite sensitive to a lot of things. Although there are a lot of things to consider overall I think this would be a good idea.
 

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I think this is doable, with the right precautions, and a great opertunity for the kids. I've personally brought a number of my rats into school or other groups of kids. They handeled it really well as long as you take your time, have the right rats and a good set up. I would suggest somethign like this

*Get your rats from a breeder with very stable gentle lines, or be prepared to have the rats at home with you for some time so you can train them well (say get them before the summer break)
*Id get 3 or 4 rats, that way you can have one rat out at a time, or alternate them a bit and they get company
*Have one cage set up at home, and the other (simialr) at school, take the rats with you at minimum at weekends and holidays, ideally in the evenings too
*Pick a school cage with narrow bar spacing and traing the rats to be bar safe (i always stick my fingers in the cage bars from a young age and make sure they are trianed not to bite.
*Assign rotas and such to do things, but ultimatly its up to you to make sure they are fed and looked after (fairly obvious lol). I also wouldnt send the rats home with kids for holidays, at that point you have no control, unless they are people you know well and would trust to rat sit under normal circumstances

There are tonnes of ways you can use rats to help with silabus', i've gone through nutrition, reproduction, careing for others, medical stuff and so on with actually quite young kids. They loved an A3 i made up showing kitten developement, espeically the little milk bands.
 

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Yea I think its a good idea to tell the truth. As for taking them home, well our class pet rat was killed by a class mate who threw him into a wall. Personally not alot of people handle my rats without me there. Im just protective that way.
 
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