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Reptile Center

Top 10 Worst Classroom Pets

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Class is in Session


Classroom pets are an excellent way to teach young children about responsibility. However, deciding which animal is best suited to a noisy environment and constant human attention can be a daunting task. To make sure elementary school teachers know what to avoid, here is a list of the top 10 worst choices for a classroom pet.

#10 Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are a class favorite for their low maintenance, but as classroom pets they are amongst the most boring of pets. They prefer to spend a lot of their time being still, and they are easily startled back into their shells. Two more things to consider: Hermit crabs can have a foul smell, which can make the classroom an unpleasant place to be if the terrarium is not kept up with; and far from being the short-lived throwaway pets they are often considered to be, hermit crabs can actually have a life-span of 20-30 years, so keeping them in an environment in which they are not well cared for is unethical. 

#9 Snakes

Snakes don’t shed, aren’t noisy and, if you keep their habitat clean, don’t emit a strong odor either. So, why don’t snakes make good classroom pets? Their unpredictable temperament (especially when molting) can result in aggressive behavior towards inquisitive children. Most importantly, being reptiles, snakes have been known to transmit Salmonella.

#8 Ferrets

These carnivorous members of the weasel family fall under the category of exotic (read: more expensive to care for) pets. Plus, they have a strong odor even after their musk glands have been removed. Generally, ferrets have excitable and aggressive dispositions. Even well trained, they have a tendency to nip when they feel threatened. Overall, ferrets and small children are not a good combination.


#7 Birds

If children in your classroom suffer from allergies, you might think a bird would be a good fit -- but birds shed dander. They’re also messy and noisy. Birds bite if handled too much, especially if they’re not being handled gently. Also, all that classroom noise and activity isn’t very peaceful; a nerve-wracked bird will pluck out its feathers. Finally, birds can transmit diseases like parrot fever and Salmonella.

#6 Frogs

Raising a frog to adulthood from the tadpole stage, or keeping an adult frog in a class full of young children is appealing, but misguided. Why don’t frogs make good classroom pets? Younger children will want to handle and pet the amphibian, and that poses a considerable risk for transmission of Salmonella. The Center for Disease Control provides vital information in this article: Reptiles, Amphibians and Salmonella.

#5 Hamsters

They’re low maintenance and take up virtually no room, which makes this "starter pet" a top choice teachers go for in the pet store. But hamsters are nocturnal rodents. This means disappointed children won’t get to observe or interact with it at all. Also, the end result of a rattled cage in order to wake up and play with "Harry the Hamster" is usually a bite.

#4 Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, which means they won’t be in a good mood if they’re woken up, and will likely bite as a result. Falling under the "exotic" category, hedgehogs have very specific environmental needs, and their quills can be very irritating to young children.


#3 Chinchillas

Like hedgehogs and ferrets, chinchillas are nocturnal, excitable, and don’t like to be handled. This pet needs to stay in constantly cool temperatures (under 85 degrees Fahrenheit), and to be set free daily so they can roam. Even considering taking a pet chinchilla to class for one day is considered a bad idea.

#2 Turtles

Their patience, hard shell and ease of care make turtles a seemingly perfect fit for the classroom. But like frogs and snakes, turtles commonly carry the disease Salmonella, which is highly infectious and transmittable to humans. In addition, turtles are not as docile as people think.


#1 Iguanas

Iguanas are, in many ways, the least ideal pet to keep in a classroom. Like most reptiles, iguanas don’t like to be handled. And because iguanas can grow to over six feet in length, a tail "lashing" can be quite dangerous to young children. Iguanas also have unique dietary needs and cannot subsist on greens alone.


Comments  9

Leave Comment
  • 04/20/2012 02:16am

    That's not even an iguana. It's a chinese water dragon. Morons.

  • 04/20/2012 11:36am

    You are correct - that was a Chinese water dragon. It has, however, been changed to a picture of an iguana.

  • Grant for Classroom Pets
    05/09/2012 05:17pm

    For teachers who are thinking about getting a classroom pet, please check out www.petsintheclassroom.org. Pets in the Classroom is a grant program that provides financial support to teachers who are interested in purchasing a classroom pet (up to $150)! There is also a grant available to teachers who already have classroom pets to help purchase ongoing food and supplies. Please check it out!

  • Bad really really bad
    03/07/2013 10:19am

    Snakes are really bad for classroom pets

  • Bad really really bad
    03/07/2013 10:21am

    Snakes are really bad for classroom pets because if you get bit it would hurt

  • Hedgehogs are dangerous
    03/07/2013 10:34am

    They are so dangerous I think that they can kill u but not really lol!

  • A MORE Helpful Article
    06/16/2013 01:10pm

    A more [u]helpful[/u] article for teachers would be a list of the [u]best[/u] classroom pets. Thanks

  • exotic pets
    01/22/2014 09:02pm

    I like the site best. because the site is very knowable, attractive feature and it's post very exclusive. I am happy to know about the site. thanks moderator.
    best exotic pets

  • All Teachers and Parents
    08/08/2015 07:32pm

    I hope parents and teachers will also instill a sense of responsibility for taking care of a living thing when adding a pet to their classroom. Perhaps taking care of a plant, would be a better first pet to have the students care for. My family and student's favorite is the TickleMe Plant actually moves like an animal when tickled, as its finger like leaves close up and is arm like branches bend down. This plant is enough to get any child interested in nature and gardening. Meanwhile you can be teaching your students or child how to be responsible to the Pet TickleMe Plant needs of sunlight, water, soil and food (fertilizer) that are necessary to keep it alive. Once your children show that they can be responsible, then perhaps fish and hamsters, etc., would be their next learning experience.
    Middle and Elementary School Science Teacher for 35 Years