I am trying to decide whether I want to get a hamster for my classroom next year. I just read the book The World According to Humphrey about a hamster that's a classroom pet and it was so cute! I'd like to read this book to my 4th graders next year, then get a hamster for our classroom.
I was at PetSmart today and asked about the different kinds. The lady said that if I want a hamster for the kids just to look at, I should get a dwarf hamster. If I want a hamster for the kids to look at AND interact with, I should get a Syrian, or teddy bear hamster, which apparently is larger and easier to tame. I'm leaning towards the teddy bear hamster.
If any of you have a hamster as a classroom pet, I have a few questions:
Do you think hamsters make good classroom pets?
How do the kids take care of it? Do you have a rotation for the different chores (cleaning out the cage, feeding it, etc.)?
Do the kids take it home over the weekend? Do you have a rotation schedule for this? What about holidays?
Instead of me buying everything out of pocket for the hamster, I'd like the kids to earn the money themselves. Ideas for raising money to buy a hamster and everything that goes along with it?
How do you prepare your kids for the hamster's eventual death? I read that they only live about 2 1/2 -3 years.
If you don't think hamsters make good classroom pets, any other ideas for a classroom pet that the kids can take of themselves?
Thanks for all your help! Hopefully I can make this work because I think my kids would LOVE having a classroom pet!
I haven't had a hamster, but I've had gerbils, a hermit crab, fish, frogs, birds and lizards.
We got all of them tame by just handling them. Ok. NOT the hermit crab, fish, or frog.
When our gerbil died (the first and most beloved one).....we had a service. There is a lot a across from the school and we got a shovel and buried it and put a stone on it. We held hands and said memories of him if we wanted to.
I didn't send them home, but I thought I was going crazy. Sometimes I thought I was overrun by gerbils and sometimes, I thought I had the right amount.
Seems that a student had been bringing his gerbils to school everyday in a lunchbox and putting them in with mine. Of course they fought like crazy. The way I found out about it is the day he dropped his lunchbox coming down the hall and gerbils scattered everywhere. That was an exciting day.
The kids could sell pickles at lunch. Freeze the pickle juice in little cups and kids will pay any amount for that frozen pickle juice !!!!!
My class read "The World According to Humphry", too, last year and at the time the kids wanted one, but it was too close to the end of the year. So I plan on surprising them with one when they come in for Open House.
My plan is to have 2 caretakers each week to take care of the needs of the hamster. I will send home a note asking parents if they are willing to be babysitters on long weekends and vacations, but other than that the hamster will stay at school.
BTW, what a great book- I teach k-5 and all levels, even my 5th graders loved the book!
I had a Teddy bear hamster donated to my class a couple of years ago. The kids loved it. I put the kids on a weekly schedule of taking care of her. They had to clean her cage each week, feed and water her everyday. We would put her in the ball while we cleaned the cage and she would run around the classroom. I took her home on long weekends or over a break (or if I knew bad weather was coming). We enjoyed having her in class, though she did tend to sleep most of the day. She would come out when the room was dark and quiet.
I think hamsters are great classroom pets. My class has always been okay with the fact that they do die. Now, when I have seen the hamster died over night, I usually put it and the house in my car. I tell the kids that she did not look good and was acting strange. So I am taking her home for some TLC. Maybe a week or two later I deliver the bad news. But that is part of life cycle for a pet and the kids always do well with it. I "cushion" the speech about the death and let them know about it gently. They are sad but no crying, etc.
Funny story-one year I went to the pet store to buy the class hamster the day before school. When it was time to feed her, the student says (and remember this is the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL) "There are babies in there"! In my head I am thinking "Oh, crap!!" Sure enough our new hamster had 6 babies that morning. Now I am faced with this problem, "What if this hamster is not a good mom and eats the babies? (yes, they sometimes do!!!) How am I going to tell the kids if there are no babies the following day? I just met these kids!! Luckily, she was a good mom and did great raising them. Then I sent home a note if anyone wanted one to let me know. We had exactly 6 kids bring back notes and it had a happy ending!!!
We have had a guinea pig in my room the last two years. We "pig sit" during the year for another staff member whose children leave for college. I let the kids feed and water her, pet her, and help clean the cage. She stays in the room on the weekend. If we have a snowday the original owner comes to feed her/take her home. On long holiday breaks, my sister takes the guinea pig home since I have large dogs in the house.
Last year "our" pig squeaked as soon as we came in the room from lunch because she knew we would bring her a carrot (or two), lettuce, grapes, etc. She would squeak a lot of times if the kids got too loud. The kids would laugh and say "ssshh, we're bugging the pig!"
Two years ago, she was even on our yearbook page as our last student!
P. S. I can't wait to see G-Force-one of the Guinea pigs reminds me of her!
I have had guinea pigs, rabbits, gerbils, birds, a turtle,and African Clawed Frogs.
As far as handling the g.pig is your best bet. Nothing but a brick with fur. Nothing exciting to watch...rather boring...but good cuddlers. However, very messy, stinky and really need a cage at least 2 feet by 4 feet to be happy and well taken care of. Must have fresh veggies and water every day and cage cleaned out every few days...religiously.
As far as rabbits...same care as g.pigs but can get aggressive once maturity sets in. VERY strong back legs and claws.
As far as fun to watch, nothing beats gerbils. Fairly low maintenance. Feed daily, clean water available. Do not stink like others if you change cage about every 2 weeks. Mine are in a 20 gallon long...longer than tall.
They love toliet tissue rolls. Very fast, but if handled when young will let you hold and pet them...but they don't stay still long...just too curious.
Can bite...but only if they feel threatened or you smell like food. My favorite of all rodents.
African clawed frogs are the way to go if you are not allowed to have mammals. They get to be about the size of the palm of your hand. The back legs are webbed but the front are not. They live in your aquarium just like fish. Not real exciting except at feeding time. Feed them reptomin turtle food. When they stuff the little tubular shaped food in their mouth it looks like they are trying to win a hot dog eating contest. Need a good filtration system (twice your tank size). In the afternoon, after the kids go home, or when the lights are down, they sing (buzz) to me. Can't put fish in with them..they will eat them if they can get a hold of them.
I love my turtle, raised him from a half dollar size. He is about 5-6 inches from front to back shell. He has a wonderful personality. When I walk by his aquarium, he follows me the length and looks so forlorn if i don't come back and play window tag with him. Great home pet, but too much work for the classroom. Most people do not realize that turtles do not stay the small cute turtles unless they are being kept in bad unhealthy conditions. They need a large enclosure...at least a 55 gallon aquarium size with UVB light and a hot lamp. Need extremely good filtration. (Kind in a canister under the tank) Very messy. But oh so fun to watch and interact with.
Birds- too loud...too messy. Wouldn't have one at all except the city cop ( very small town) found it outside somewhere while on patrol, brought it to school, and the school secretary referred him to me as the "animal person" in our school. Would you say no to a big burly cop standing waiting for you at your door saying," Mam, I have something to discuss with you." He wanted me to take it and take care of it.....so....I did...that was four years ago...still have that squawy little parakeet.
I am considering getting getting a guinea pig for my classroom (to go with the tortoise and fish!). I have been doing some research and have read that I should get two -- is that accurate, or is it OK to just have one? It would be better for me to have a single guinea pig, but I don't want to have just one because it is more convenient... feedback?