Class Pet Showcase: Guinea Pig

August 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Catch All, Small Pets

Guinea Pig

Guinea Pigs are popular pets because they pack lots of personality into a small package. They love attention, and their sounds and actions are quite entertaining! These qualities have led many teachers to consider a guinea pig as a classroom pet.

If you’re thinking about getting a guinea pig for your classroom, it’s important to realize that they are high-maintenance animals. They can’t be left in a small cage day in and day out. They need plenty of space to run around and lots of human interaction every single day. They’re also notoriously messy, so you’ll need to set aside time each day for cleaning up after them. If a child in your class turns out to be allergic to guinea pigs, you may have to make special accommodations or remove the guinea pig from the classroom. Even so, for many teachers, the benefits of a guinea pig as a class pet far exceed the disadvantages.

Children love guinea pigs because they are so active and fun-loving. However, guinea pigs are more appropriate for older children than younger ones. Small children may be too rough with them or accidentally drop and injure them. These creatures are best suited to children aged 10 and up, but they can work for younger age groups with close adult supervision.

Having a guinea pig in the classroom provides lots of educational opportunities. It’s great for teaching kids about responsibility, as you can assign a different child to clean the cage or feed the pet each day. And since a guinea pig’s favorite meal consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s great for encouraging healthy eating. Special education teachers have also found that children with autism or other special needs can benefit greatly from interacting with guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs need a large cage with a solid floor. They also need a thick layer of bedding, which may consist of aspen shavings or manufactured bedding. Their diet should consist primarily of fresh timothy, but they also need a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Toys should be provided to keep them busy during class. Wooden bird toys and cat balls with bells in them are good choices. The cage should be thoroughly cleaned every day.

For a dedicated, animal-loving teacher, a guinea pig can be a fabulous class pet. For your care and attention, you will be rewarded with ample learning opportunities and lots of smiles from your students. The most important things to remember are to provide daily floor time for the guinea pig, keep the cage clean, and provide for its care on the weekends (either by taking it home or allowing students to keep it over the weekend). And don’t forget the fresh fruits and veggies!

Sugar Gliders as Pets

August 20, 2011 by  
Filed under Catch All, Small Pets

Sugar GlidersSugar Gliders

"These little guys can live up to 15 years if taken well care of!

Sugar Gliders are known to have a “sweet tooth”, and they also have a fold of skin

from their front feet to their back feet which helps them glide – which is how they got their name!

Sugar gliders ability to glide when they spread out their furred fold of skin is similar to the Flying Squirrel. But that is the only thing they have in common with the Flying Squirrel. Sugar gliders are naturally nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and wake up at night to go about their activities. They are very active little animals and are very social creatures. They can make great pets and with the right nurturing care they can bond for life with their owners… Read More

More about Sugar Gliders!

The Best Pets for Apartment Dwellers

Best Pets for Apartments

Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean that you are limited in the pets you can own. If you want a cat or dog, it will help to know how to choose one who will love your third floor walk up or that first floor garden unit.

Check your rental agreement

The first place to go is to the rental office. If you are moving to another apartment, checking on their pet policy might want to be your first order of business. For your current apartment, reread your lease. Now that you want a pet, it will be imperative to know if it is even possible where you live.

Some agreements have stipulations even when you are allowed pets so read the fine print. There could be weight limit or size limit. Owning fish may be limited to smaller tanks and not the larger ones you see in doctor’s offices or restaurants.

Don’t forget the cost as well. To own a pet can add another one hundred dollars or more to your monthly rent. Increased cost is most likely due to the possibility of pet stains on rugs and damage to the apartment dwelling itself.

Top Apartment Pets

1. Fish – These are some of the most unobtrusive pets. They amuse themselves by swimming all day and only need to eat at intervals. The size of your fish or the aquarium might be in question but generally fish are allowed as long as the tanks are well maintained.

2. Reptiles and amphibians – Snakes are not the only reptiles. Many apartments will allow them as long as they are non-poisonous and kept in a tank. But, there are also small lizards like newts and salamanders. Don’t forget your friendly neighborhood turtle.

3. Birds – They can sing but don’t let them squawk. Try to stay away from macaws, parakeets in large numbers, cockatoos and other vocal birds. Apartment walls are not thick enough to stop a loud bird from keeping the neighbors up all night.

4.
Small furry animals – This would include hamsters, guinea pigs, mice and rabbits. The major hurdle here is the smell. These pets need constant cleaning of their cages. If there is an issue with cleanliness, your landlord may ask them to go.

5. Cats – This furry creature is usually not a problem in most apartments. They keep to themselves and don’t make a lot of noise.

6. Dogs – Large dogs are not a good match for apartments because of the limited space during the day. Even small dogs need to be walked but they often fare better during the day when left alone.

Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean that you can’t have a companion of the animal variety. Check with your landlord and then choose a pet to suit your needs.

Skinny Pig

July 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Catch All, Small Pets

Sknny Pig - Cavia porcellusSkinny Pig
Cavia porcellus

"These little guys can be quite mischievous, however they are also very affectionate!

Even though the Skinny Pig is considered hairless, it does have a small amount of hair!

The Skinny pig is a breed of guinea pig that used to be quite rare, but is becoming more and more popular. They are one of two types of hairless guinea pigs. The other type is called the Baldwin Guinea Pig. Although they may not be as pretty to some people, these guinea pigs can actually be quite friendly and many people fall in love with them… Read More

More about the Skinny Pig!

How to Choose a Classroom Pet

July 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Catch All, Small Pets

A Classroom Pet

A pet in the classroom has many benefits for students. But, before you get down to learning you have to find the pet that will suit your class’s needs.

Usually each class gets to choose the pet that they want in the classroom. The school may have an approved list of pets or leave the decision up to the teacher.

Here are a few ideas to help you and your class make the right decision.

1. Talk to the class – Ask them what types of pets they might want to see in the classroom. If you are working from an approved list, show the students pictures of the pets and tell a little bit about them. Pets that are skittish won’t do well in a noisy classroom setting.

2. Seek parental involvement – Send a letter home to parents. Notify them of the intention to bring in a class pet. If you have created a list of possible pets, include it in the letter so parents can discuss it with their children.

3. Know classroom requirements – If you have a small classroom, you won’t be able to keep a pet that is going to grow to a large size. This will need to be a pet that stays small even as they grow and won’t need much space to live and be comfortable.

4. Know kid’s allergies – Some kids may be allergic to certain pet dander. You can ask about medical issues on the form that you send home to parents. In fairness to all kids, a pet that can cause health problems will need to be eliminated from the list of choices.

5. Ask about the funding – If a budget has been set aside for classroom pet programs, find out how much money you are allocated so you know what you can afford. Besides purchasing the pet, you will need food, water and lodging for them for as long as they will be living in the classroom.

6. Decide on holiday care – Weekends may not be a problem, but week long holidays such as spring break or Christmas vacation will necessitate the need for the pet to go home with someone. Kids need permission from parents to participate or the teacher can handle the responsibility their self. Kids who live in apartments may not have the option of pets in the home.

7. Research your pet choices – Once the list has been narrowed down, further research can help determine which pet gets to live in the classroom.

8. Where will the pet live afterwards? – Once the year is over, who will care for the pet? You can make arrangements with a petting zoo or natural science center to take the pet. Also, if a student and their family find that they are willing and able to welcome the pet into their home that can be another option.

There are many small steps that go into choosing just the right pet for your classroom. Each ensures that your kids get just the experience they deserve.

Featured Pet of the Week: The Pet Rat

June 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Catch All, Featured Pets, Small Pets

The Featured Pet for this week is: The Pet Rat!

When I was growing up, I had many many pet rats over the years. I got my first rat when I was in 4th grade and her name was Pepper. From then on out, I got several more and actually started breeding them (with my parents help of course!). I love rats, and believe they can make one of the best small pet companions out there – for both children and adults.

Rats are rodents that are small enough to be kept in cages that can easily fit in a child’s room or on a table in a main family room without taking up too much space. As long as they are taken out of their cage on a regular basis, this can be an ideal home for them. For their basic care, just make sure that they have clean bedding once or twice a week (they generally do not create much odor), clean food and water (preferably in a water bottle), and a nice place to sleep in, such as a log or house purchased at a pet store or made from cardboard.

The best way to make sure your rat is nutritionally cared for would be to provide him with commercially prepared rat foods. These should have the right balance of proteins, vitamins, and minerals that he needs. You can also always give your rat fresh fruits and vegetables on the side, such as lettuce, carrots, and apples, as well as various treats found at pet stores or scraps from your table. Other things to take into consideration include giving them something to gnaw on to keep their teeth from getting too long (their teeth are constantly growing!), and giving them vitamin supplements such as calcium supplements because they can be prone to vitamin deficiencies.

Rats get along pretty well together for the most part, so feel free to get a friend for your rat, especially if you don’t think you will be spending a whole lot of time with him/her. However, males will sometimes fight with each other – especially if there is a female around – so you may want to make sure to get 2 females, or 2 males that have grown up together and are proven to get along well. Only get a male and a female if you want to have offspring!

Pet rats are also extremely intelligent little critters and they can be taught to do many tricks! By spending time with them daily and rewarding them with treats after they’ve done something you want, they can pick up quickly on the tricks you want them to do. They can be taught to come when you whistle or call their name, ride around on your shoulder, and stand up to take food from your fingers!

You will want to make sure your rat gets plenty of exercise as well. If they are very tame and handled often, there’s a good chance you will feel completely comfortable letting them run around the room, provided it is safe and there are not other animals around who could harm them. You also should make sure there is no way they could escape outside – which could be perilous for them! There are also exercise wheels available at pet stores that rats just love to run on!

You will want to watch out for any sign of problems – such as breathing problems, diarrhea, or lice, mites, or fleas. They are prone to getting respiratory infections as they get older, and if their cage is not kept clean it can be easier for them to attract parasites. There are various ways to handle these problems if they do occur.

By taking good care of your pet rat, you can have a wonderful, fun, and healthy pet for 2-3 years! They are relatively inexpensive as long as they are kept healthy, and they will give you much satisfaction.

This is a great pet, and to learn more about pet rats, see this pet rat page.

Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Benefits of Having a Classroom Pet

June 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Catch All, Small Pets

Benefits of Having a Class Pet

When you were in elementary school, did you have a class pet? Many children have enjoyed the company of furry companions over the years. Here are some benefits of introducing a pet to young students.

If your school has a class pet program, take advantage of it. Even if you don’t have a pet at home, your child can benefit from interactions with one at school.

Benefits of Class Pets

1. Pets teach compassion – Children learn to care for another living creature. They don’t always know how to interact with other creatures and this can teach them to touch softly, feed an animal and become in tune to their feelings. For instance, petting comforts an animal.

2. Pets teach responsibility – You are never too young to learn how to coexist with other living things. Pets are dependent on their owners for feeding and care. Children can learn how to feed a pet on a regular schedule, give them exercise and also clean out their cages.

3. Pets teach kids to think – While children learn to read and write in school, they also need to think through situations. If a pet is limping, something is wrong with it that needs attention. Cleaning a cage takes thought. The pet needs to be moved to another location before the tank can be cleaned. Where will you put the pet?

4. Children learn about sanitation – Speaking of cleaning, it needs to be done in a certain way. For instance, kids need to wear gloves so they don’t come in contact with animal droppings. Also, it may require using soap or other cleansers to clean the cage or tank. They learn that cleanliness is important to keep themselves and their class pet healthy.

5. Pets teach sharing – There is only one class pet and several students. Taking turns petting and also caring for them is a must. It requires respect and cooperation. Both are good skills for kids to learn.

6. Pets bring valuable knowledge – We know where we live, but where do pets live? A hamster didn’t originate in the classroom, neither did a ferret. Kids absorb knowledge like a sponge and will be more than eager to learn the native habitat of their class pet, their behaviors and their culture.

While class pets provide all of these benefits it is also important to choose the right pet. To broaden the class’s knowledge, a pet that they are not familiar with can bring interest from everyone. This way, all students are on an even playing field.

The class pet program is one that is worthwhile in the right setting.

Jersey Wooly Rabbit

June 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Catch All, Small Pets

Jersey Wooly Rabbit - Oryctolagus cuniculusJersey Wooly Rabbit
Oryctolagus cuniculus

"With my very long hair, I love to be brushed!"

The Jersey Wooly Rabbit has recently become a very popular pet!

Only weighing three pounds when full-grown, the Jersey Wooly Rabbit is a very small rabbit. They are also smart, gentle, sweet, and docile.

The Jersey Wooly Rabbit needs lots of attention and loves people and being handled and pet. They are quite calms rabbits and simple to take care of. Because of this, they make wonderful pets for adults and children… Read More

More about the Jersey Wooly Rabbit!

Ferrets

April 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Catch All, Small Pets

Ferrets - Mustela furo<br />
Ferrets
Mustela furo

"With tons of care and attention, I can be just as good a pet as a dog or cat!"

Ferrets are very personable, loving, and active! They make wonderful companions!

Ferrets can make a wonderful addition to a family – helping to create many memories and becoming part of the family by playing games, exploring the house, and just being curious and playful in everything they do. Ferret comes from the latin word “furritus”, which means “little thief”… Read More

More about Ferrets!

Fresh Step Cat Video Contest Almost Over

How can anyone not love these furry little critters?!? Entries from the Fresh Step contest will change anyone’s mind.

I entered the Fresh Step contest about a month ago, and have been checking back routinely to see the competition that my little Bridget is up against. Long and short of it: her chances might be getting sort of slim.

For those of you who don’t know or haven’t been reading Fresh Step has been running a contest where anyone can upload their video of their cat doing something silly, cute, crazy, awesome, beautiful, funny, whatever to the Fresh Step YouTube page and have a chance at their cat being featured in a national Fresh Step advertisement. If you want to enter simply click here – http://www.youtube.com/freshstep – and follow the instructions at the top right hand part of the page.

I’m not sure how anyone could see some of these entries and not adore cats.

  • Watch this one for instance:
    Really?!? I have a new meaning in my life and some people still complain that cats are no fun?
  • Or this:
    Honestly, there is a reason cats have been such a perennial favorite pet. They are smart, clean, fun to watch, fun to pet, and just so awesome to have around. Some people say they don’t do anything or they don’t obey, but clearly the first part is not true and the second part is just part of their nature. They may not obey, but as all us cat lovers know, they are still loyal and loving.
  • Check out this final entry from the contest:

Those three are my favorites. Though I love Bridget I maintain that she has some tough competition from some of you guys, but the game is still afoot!

If you liked those videos be sure to check out the rest at the Fresh Step contest page here – http://www.youtube.com/freshstep.

Note: In full-disclosure, this post is part of a sponsorship campaign with Clorox’s Fresh Step Cat Litter’s YouTube contest in coordination with Lijit Networks, Inc. I received compensation for these posts, but the opinions expressed here are my own. I also run third-party advertisements through Lijit, compensated on a CPM-basis.

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