class pet, class pets, perfect class pet, what not to get as class pet

The Perfect Class Pet and What Not to Get

Does your child have a class pet at school? Do you ever wonder about sponsoring a class pet for a teacher? I’ve had the most wonderful  Kindergarten teacher for all three of my kids. When we visited her classroom earlier in the year, I noticed that one of class pet aquariums was empty so I asked if I could be a sponsor.

What Not to Get for a Class Pet

She said yes to being a class pet sponsor, but asked for a pet without fur (allergies). She already had a baby turtle swimming around so a non-water pet was preferred. Her biggest worry was temperature. During the winter, our school’s thermometer is turned down to the 50’s to save electricity on the weekends. Even with a heating pad and lamp, the aquarium gets very, very cold. Too cold for snakes or lizards. Too cold for hermit crabs too.

My kids have had other class pets and offered up their advice (a.k.a. criticism).

  • African Giant Millipedes (too boring)
  • Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches (too noisy)
  • Salamanders (too delicate)

The Perfect Class Pet?

The pet store suggested lobsters or toads. They actually had small blue lobsters swimming around in a tank! No water, I remembered though.

blue lobsters as class pet

image from Lands of Evelon

My kids love toads. We once had two dozen brown baby toads hopping around our yard after we purchased three toads from a Toad and Lemonade Stand across the street where the neighbhor boys had caught a bonanza catch at the stream near by.

class pet, toads and baby chicks, perfect class pets

My young friend Lily caught this toad and offered it up as the class pet. Her mother says it will be released when school is out.

The pet store had Red Bellied toads that were perfect!


I bought 4 Red Bellied toads for the tank. 

My shot does not show their bellies so I found this image on Tumblr. Very pretty, right?!

red bellied toad class pet

They fit the requirements. The only questionable thing was their food; they need live crickets, about 3 per toad every other day. That’s a lot of crickets to purchase at the pet store. I also had bad luck keeping our “pet” cricket alive for more than 24 hours. I personally do not relish picking up live crickets with my hands (and assumed my teacher felt the same way)  but the pet store showed me this nifty cricket cage that allows for easy removal:

I wondered how lively the toads would be and they turned out to be quite active. Their bright coloring also makes them easy to spot and fun to watch.

Our Kindergarten teacher also hatches chicks every spring. Here’s the latest batch. Eight chicks hatched out of twelve eggs, the best turnout yet! My teacher thinks it’s the new incubator she bought.

class pet, toads and baby chicks, perfect class pets

The chicks will be returned to the farm that supplied the eggs once they are older. As for the kids, they can’t stop watching the chicks. It’s not a problem. She has created curriculum based entirely around chicks.

  • Picking names for chicks involves graphing and learning to cope with name rejection.
  • Kids become scientists observing, predicting and recording the progress of the egg hatching process.
  • One egg hatched during school!
  • Non fiction and fiction books about chickens are suddenly very interesting!

More Class Pet Ideas from The Museum of Science, Boston

The Museum of Science Butterfly Exhibit in Boston had an additional exhibit outside the Butterfly Garden. I thought they would also make great pets!

blonde tarantula, furless class pet ideas, class pet ideas without fur

Tuscan Blond Tarantula

Wondering what Tarantulas eat? They eat insects, especially larger ones like crickets and grasshoppers, June beetles, cicadas, and caterpillars. The cage didn’t have a lot of sight obstructions and the Tartantula was very visible, making it perfect for a class pet.

American bullfrog, furless class pet ideas, class pet ideas without fur

American Bullfrog

Don’t they look exactly how you’d picture a frog? They are large also, compared to other frog species making them very visible. They also are quite active so they would be fun to watch.

millipede, centipede, furless class pet ideas, class pet ideas without fur

Giant Desert Centipede

One of my kids’ class pets were a couple of  giant millipedes that mostly stayed burrowed or didn’t seem to move around much. This one is quite large — it’s a Giant after all — and the coloring makes it stand out from the soil. It didn’t move much when we observed it but then it wasn’t buried either.

In college, one guy I knew kept Madagasgar Hissing Cockroaches as pets and I didn’t mind them at all. Does it creep you out? They are not that noisy and they don’t seem to move quickly like a house cockroach can. I think it would make an interesting class pet, do you?


Toad Class Pet Picture Books for Kids

Frog and Toad collection by Arnold Lobel

I love Frog and Toad so much. Frog is cheerful and adventurous. Toad is a more fearful homebody. They are opposites and best friends. [easy readers, ages 4 and up]

Frog or Toad?: How Do You Know? (Which Animal Is Which?) by Melissa Stewart

It is confusing! This picture book helps kids learn what to look for.

Toads on Toast by Linda Bailey

Mamma Toad does everything she can think of to save her unruly brood from Fox’s frying pan, including offering up herself, and eventually persuades Fox to try her own secret recipe for Toad-in-a-Hole, a tasty treat that they all end up enjoying together. The secret? No toads! [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Commander Toad and the Space Pirates by Jane Yolen

A space adventure with an intrepid toad as fearless leader. [picture book, ages 4 and up]


Thank you to Erica of What Do We Do All Day? for her great book recommendation. She says, “I have the perfect chapter book for you, too: 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel Divided by 1 Dog = Chaos. It is so hilarious!!”

8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel / 1 Dog = Chaos by Vivian Vande Velde

Twitch, the school yard squirrel, has really gotten himself into a bind this time. While trying to escape from a hungry owl, he roused the principal’s dog and got chased into the school. Now he’s locked in for a dangerous and disastrous night. Can Green Eggs and Hamster, Sweetie the library rat, and the other school pets save Twitch from the crazed dog, Cuddles? In this uproarious chapter book, a group of small animals manages to turn an elementary school into a real zoo.

What is your favorite class pet? Please share!

p.s. I have a great app for a Virtual Frog Dissection here.


To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

class pet, class pets, perfect class pet, what not to get as class pet

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Very informative. I never did have a class pet. We were not permitted to do so, but I have had my share at home. I do think the red bellied toads are cute.

    • Hi Barbara,
      I was so pleased that the red bellied toads turned out to be such great class pets! My kids love having a class pet but they don’t always have one every year. It depends on the teacher and on the squeemish factor. Not everyone wants to deal with meal worms and live crickets as food LOL! I can’t say that I blame them!!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…The Perfect Class Pet and What Not to GetMy Profile

  2. As a teacher I had a rabbit, hamsters, Guinea pigs, and fish. Guinea pigs are the best. We had a little girl who hadn’t spoken all year the year before and she became very attached to the guinea pig and started talking.
    Faigie recently posted…Don’t know what to do with old magazines? Use some cut out pictures and then draw to finish the pictureMy Profile

  3. This is such a fun post. Last year my son’s pre-k class had a hamster, a hermit crab, a frog, a lizard and a fish! I have the perfect chapter book for you, too: 8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel Divided by 1 Dog = Chaos. It is so hilarious!!
    Erica recently posted…14 Latin American Folktales for KidsMy Profile

  4. Erin

    In my class over the years I have had fish, frogs (hatched from eggs from a nearby pond), hermit crabs, a guinea pig and 2 bearded dragons! I taught Spec. Ed. for 7 years and it really helped a lot of the children relax, deal with anxiety and emotional issues that hampered their learning. I continued having pets in my regular classroom and found the same positive results. For the last three years I have not had a pet and really miss it. I am thinking of getting two albino dwarf frogs as they are fairly easy to care for.

    • Hi Erin,
      I love it when teachers have a class pet and I totally understand that it’s a burden for the teacher to care for it and take it home during vacations. Wow, you had such a great variety of pets! My kids LOVE having a class pet. I might have to sponsor more toads. They were really fun to watch! Bearded Dragons and albino dwarf frogs never hit my radar but now I am curious! They sound great! Thanks so much for stopping by and for your great classroom pet ideas! You sound like you are a wonderful teacher!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…The Perfect Class Pet and What Not to GetMy Profile

  5. Ann

    Great post topic! I remember taking home our class pet snail for the weekend in first grade. I was so worried. Too much responsibility I think!

    I love the toads you got they are adorable!!! Having the chickens must be fun learning too. I think I would enjoy hatching some chickens.

    • Thanks so much Ann,
      I remember when it was our turn to take home the baby chicks. They were a lot of fun but were big enough to jump out of their box. It is stressful babysitting the classroom pet!

      I’m glad you like the toads. They turned out to be very active and easy to spot! The kids love them. I love that you had a pet snail in your classroom! What a great pet!!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…The Perfect Class Pet and What Not to GetMy Profile

  6. What a fun post! I never realized the power of pets until we adopted a little kitten earlier this summer. The benefits for our family have been awesome. That’s a great idea to offer to sponsor a class pet. I may have to talk to my son’s teacher about that!
    Jackie Higgins recently posted…Bill Martin Jr. Virtual Book Club for KidsMy Profile

  7. One year I had guinea pigs. The kids loved them, but they were a lot of work and stinky! They belonged to a girl in my class that year, so it was only a one year commitment. She also took them home over breaks. I’d have one again, but not two. That would cut down the smell factor. I also had two lizards. Made it into a fluency center (read to a lizard). They made it only two years, and I think the temp changes were part of that (always bringing them home over the weekend when the room was unheated). But they sure were fun. The search continues for our perfect pet. Maybe I’ll look into a toad. Thanks!

    • Hi Bonnie,
      I LOVE your idea of turning the class pet into a literacy center!! Is two years a short life for a lizard? The ones across the street from us seem to die even more quickly!

      Please let me know what you decide for your perfect pet! I have heard that the red bellied toads are, hands down, a crowd favorite! And no one seems to mind handling the crickets to feed them. Phew!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…The Perfect Class Pet and What Not to GetMy Profile

  8. Our kids never had class pets! Too bad, because these are great ideas. At home we have 2 bearded dragons, which the kids LOVE. We also have a ball python, but I imagine schools wouldn’t want a python in class:).
    Becky recently posted…Aisha the Indian Princess InterviewMy Profile

  9. I think only our K rooms have class pets – mostly chicks or fish. I am kind of glad that we don’t have insects as pets, I am not a big fan ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve never thought of a toad as a pet, but I suppose they can work well. I didn’t know they need live crickets!
    Natalie recently posted…Schools of the World–School in the Soviet UnionMy Profile

  10. Christy

    What happens to the toads at the end of the school year? Do you end up taking them home or does the teacher? Do you have to stop and purchase more live crickets every few days? It sounds like quite a bit of work!

    It sounds like the kids are really lucky, having the animals.
    Christy recently posted…Reasons to NOT Support Operation Christmas ChildMy Profile

    • Hi Christy,
      A mom whose preschool aged kids loved visiting the toads every day and she asked to bring them home for the summer. Otherwise, the Kindergarten teacher was happy to take them. Believe it or not, everyone seems to want to have the class pet for a visitor! I guess it’s because it’s novel and you get to return them!

      The crickets seem to live for about a week. Sometimes parents volunteer to buy them at our local pet store and bring them in because their kids want to feed the toads. Otherwise, the teacher will get them. She says she doesn’t mind. It is work … much more work than fish but the kids love it and the teacher loves it as she says it gets the preschoolers excited about coming to Kindergarten. She is the world’s best Kindergartener teacher though!!

  11. I guess there is a lot of thought that goes into selecting a class pet. I never realized how difficult it could be. I love the red bellied toads. They are so colorful. I bet the kids love having the toads for their class pet.
    Betty Taylor recently posted…How to lose stomach fatMy Profile

  12. Wow, who knew it was such an intricate decision for a class pet. I have so much to learn. Great recommendations. Those toads look so incredible, but the fact they are toads, aahhhh I feel my skin crawling. Thanks for some great book recommendations too. I have to read Commander Toad and The Space Pirates…. Thanks for linking in to the Kid Lit Blog HOp
    Julie Grasso recently posted…Kid Lit Blog Hop #23:The Mysterious Case Of The Missing HoneyMy Profile

    • Hi Julie,
      I guess our school budget cuts have affected the classroom down to the class pet selection LOL! But it is sad when the class pet dies so it was good to know the parameters before selecting one. The toads are doing well. We lost one the first day but the rest have survived and we did a quick replacement toad so the kids never knew. I think the moss we used the first day was too dry and crumbly so when that was switched out, the toads were all fine.

      Thanks for hosting the wonderful Kid Lit Blog Hop!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…This Looks Fun! Tinkertoy Game to Win $1000!My Profile

  13. What a great resource – thanks for putting it together! When I was a teacher we had a hamster… but those little stinkers could ALWAYS find a way out of the cage. We even had one who escaped, climbed into the opening where plumbing was being repaired, and became stuck between the bathroom walls! (Thankfully, the janitor got him out.) That was my LAST classroom pet! Thanks so much for sharing at After School ๐Ÿ™‚
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  14. Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews

    Oh, how interesting! I’m just realizing how neither of my children have had class pets. Oh wait… I think they had caterpillars one year and when they turned into butterflies, they released them. That’s about it. I’m really intrigued by this idea. Thanks so much for sharing in the Kid Lit Blog Hop.
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  15. Lori

    Fun post! The first year (and last year) I ever did a class pet I hatched chicks….never again! While amazing and so cute at first, they very quickly become smelly chickens that needed a yard to run around in. Unfortunately the farm I was going to bring them to couldn’t take them until a certain point, so I had chicks living in my house with me and my husband (and our 1 year old labrador who drooled every time he looked at them).

    • Hi Lori,
      My Kindergarten teacher says that she gets the eggs from a farm where the eggs are a little more expensive but they will take back the half grown chicks when you are ready to be done with them. I think that is the only reason why she is able to hatch chicks each year!

      That would be hard to raise the chickens if you are not set up for it! And I can just imagine that the chickens and your dog would be difficult to keep seperate! My dog would be drooling too!!!
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