Pets, Pets, and more Pets

      Okay, I have been asked by many people a variety of questions regarding all the pets we have had in and out of our classroom.  Here are some answers.  If I haven't answered yours just leave me a message and I'll get back to you.

      First let me give you a little background about me and my love for animals.  I grew up in Florida where it was very common to see Gopher Tortoises on a regular basis.  Also, as kids we would go fishing and pond hopping catching what ever we could manage.  My Aunt Carla has always had a salt water tank and tortoises.  I randomly had dogs, rabbits and one guinea pig.  I never had cats.  I remember my dog Sophia having babies under the house during a hurricane one year.  I also remember going before my classroom on trial for 'murder' of the hermit crab.  (It was a total accident, I was holding him and he pinched me and I slung him across the room.)  Needless to say, I was found innocent on the charges and NO I wasn't scared for life for the mock trial we had in class.

How do you find all your exotic pets?
First of all, you should never get any pet without RESEARCHING everything you can first and really thinking about the commitment.  I inherit many of my pets from kids that don't want them anymore.  The only two I have invested in is my recent sulcatta tortoise and my two year old hedgehog. 

How do find time to take care of them?
         Each and every kid has a job in our classroom to make it feel like a real community where we all participate.  Some are weekly and some are daily.  We normally have at least two zoologist and one aquariologist.  They learn all the parts of taking care of and handling the pets and are responsible for training the next qualified student.

How expensive is it to have animals in the classroom?
         The initial cost for any animal can be expensive.  Our classroom Chinchilla, Geronimo, was gifted to us with the cage, and a big box of supplies from a girl who wanted a cat instead.  I find the weekly cost isn't much because the kids will begin to bring in small treats here and there.  Kids will catch live crickets for the hedgehog and the fish and bring in fresh fruits for the chinchilla.  It will be exciting to see how we all adjust to a tortoise this year.

How do you get around kid allergies?
        I get non allergy causing pets.  Basically pets without pet dander.  Good handwashing comes along with the territory also.

How do you take care of them over breaks?
        I actually have the students fill out applications if they want to take them home.  There is a little responsibility form for the parents.  It kinda helps some parents out that don't want a long term commitment for a pet.  Also, depending on the length, they get paid a small fee for pet sitting.
Also, if you are interested in just having a fish tank*****STAY AWAY FROM GOLD FISH!!!  Many people think fish tanks stink because of how walmart will over populate their tanks or they will crowd too many fish in  the tank and the filter cannot do its job quick enough.... I'll say it again.  RESEARCH!!!

         Also if you teach 4th or 5th grade Tetra Aquademics has a National Essay Contest (it's only 75 words) on Why I like my classroom aquarium.  I have had about 10 kids over the past 10 years win a $1,000 scholarship and many kids win a fish tank as runner's up.  As the teacher of the winning kid you get 5 fish tanks with all the set up to disperse among your fellow teachers.  Not bad.  I always give one of the tanks to the winner because they just get a piece of paper that says, you have a savings bond of 1,000 you can cash when your 18.  Not so fun for a kid.
An amazing teacher friend I admire at a Science and Math/ Engineering school has me totally beat though.  Beth has A KING KONG GIANT IGUANNA, large corn snake, snapping turtle, fish tanks, chinchilla, and I'm sure I'm missing something else too. 

Well friends, I hope that helps if you were thinking of a pet or animal for your room.  Sorry if I was everywhere:)

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