Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy



or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

Reptile & Amphibian Center

Top 10 Worst Classroom Pets

Image: woodleywonderworks / via Flickr
Image: Kagai19927 / via Shutterstock
Image: Kevin Poirier / via Flickr
Image: Sara Lynn Paige / via Flickr
Image: Drew Avery / via Flickr
Image: Kohei Yamada / via Flickr
Image: digital_image_fan / via Flickr
Image: yoppy / via Flickr
Image: Caroline Sanstead / via Flickr
Image: Bong Grit / via Flickr
Image: David Masini / via Shutterstock


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.

1/11


Comments  12

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

  • Utterly inaccurate.
    10/20/2015 05:49pm

    #10 Hermit Crabs
    "Hermit crabs are a class favorite for their low maintenance" Hermit crabs are complex to care for. They need LARGE amounts of space, a companion, soil-sand substrate mix to burrow, a salt water source, a fresh water source, raw meat / shellfish and fruit for diet, a lot of climbing / hiding spots, many shell choices, and must be moved to safe, damp location for molts. Additionally, they require warmth and high humidity.

    #9 Snakes
    " 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."
    First of all, snakes shed, they do not molt. They don't have "unpredictable temperaments", certainly no less than any other animal. If a snake gets fussy in shed, and not all do by far, guess what- the kids leave the snake alone that week. And just about EVERY animal can carry salmonella, the risk is SO exaggerated for reptiles. It's called Germ-X.

    #8 Ferrets
    "Plus, they have a strong odor even after their musk glands have been removed. Generally, ferrets have excitable and aggressive dispositions. " Ferrets often have a strong odor because people excessively wash an animal that SELF GROOMS, causing them to over-emit odiferous coat oils... Leave them alone, and they have a minimal smell. They are playful, not aggressive. They are mostly not appropriate class pets because they deserve to be part of a real family, in a house, with consistent attention and time for training and play.

    #7 Birds
    " but birds shed dander. They’re also messy and noisy. Birds bite if handled too much, especially if they’re not being handled gently. .... trasmit diseases like salmonella" ONCE AGAIN, exaggerated Salmonella risk, and it's called Germ-X. Not all birds produce much dander, it's worse in cockatiels / cockatoo-type species. Not all birds are messy and they have different degrees of noise... Birds bite if handled INCORRECTLY, but crave constant attention so implying that they shouldn't be handled much is awful.

    #6 Frogs
    "Younger children will want to handle and pet the amphibian, and that poses a considerable risk for transmission of Salmonella. " SIGH.... Also, amphibians shouldn't be handled because they easily absorb toxins through their skin and children are filthy.. so their reasoning is ironic.

    #5 Hamsters
    "take up virtually no room"... Hamsters actually need large amounts of space, the only cage that takes up "virtually no room" is an abusive one... 20L tanks are acceptable for dwarf species, with large tubs or 40gal tanks being good for Syrian / golden / "teddy bear" hamsters... but bigger is ideal. They also don't like loud noises (kids), being handled excessively (kids) and can have a heart attack from its cage being banged on (kids)! Hamsters are awful pets for children not to even mention the freaking squeeze factor....

    #4 Hedgehogs
    For once, the reasoning isn't bad, BUT hedgehogs can be quite friendly to kids. I would also contest that they'd be a poor classroom pet because most of their activity takes place at night, when no one will be there, and that makes it hard to properly monitor and care for it.

    #3 Chinchilla
    "don’t like to be handled. This pet needs to stay in constantly cool temperatures (under 85 degrees Fahrenheit)" Chinchillas are actually social and either need a friend or need to be handled, BUT they are under no cricumstances good for children. They are sensitive, emotional, they will remember if a child yanks at their tail, and they're high maintenance... And they need temperatures under 75, 80 and above risks heat stroke!

    #2 Turtles
    If you get THE SMALLEST turtle species, it still needs a minimum of a 40gal tank- most need a 75 - 120gal in adulthood. Not to mention the other roughly $250-300 worth of equipment... Bad classroom pet, Salmonella risk is higher with turtles but once again, washing hands / Germ-X helps, barring any little snot is not so bright enough to put one in its mouth...

    #1 Iguanas
    "Iguanas are, in many ways, the least ideal pet to keep in a classroom. ... Iguanas also have unique dietary needs and cannot subsist on greens alone."
    Yes, Iguanas need truly massive enclosures, expensive equipment, etc.. They actually CAN be kept on a proper variety of greens, but additional things like squash and such are good to add in. Really not super unique besides maybe adding calcium in.

    TOO LONG ; DON'T READ:
    Writer is a moron.

  • 02/16/2016 12:03pm

    U R stupid. :-(

 
MORE FROM PETMD.COM