Many animals make good classroom pets. Turtles, frogs, toads, earthworms, crickets, newts, slugs, and pillbugs all are hardy animals that can be safely handled and cared for by young children.

Pill bugs (also called roly-poly bugs, sow bugs, or wood lice) are fascinating. They are not insects but crustaceans. The 14 legs are a dead give away! They are easy to find outdoors any time of the year except winter, and they make good classroom animals. To find them, look under dead leaves, stones, or pieces of wood, especially when the ground is damp. They can be kept in a container with a lid, moist soil, some decaying vegetation, and a few slices of potato.

Slugs are also well suited for classroom use. Look for them in the same areas you find pill bugs, especially after a rain. They are considered pests by many gardeners, but kids love their slow, easy, and slimey nature. A lidded container with damp soil, decaying vegetation, and a bit of lettuce will suit them very well. (Make sure the lid fits tightly because slugs can slither through very small openings.) Below are a few web links about pill bugs, slugs, and other classroom animals.

Mealworms are another readily available and easy to care for animal species that's work well in a classroom. Mealworm larva can be purchased in most pet stores. Put them in a plastic container with a lid (and air holes), a couple of inches of oatmeal, and some potato slices. Keep their environment dark, dry, and room temperature. Metamorphosis will occur quickly and the larva will soon become pupae and then mealworm beetles.

Newts are salamanders and they make ideal classroom pets for young children. They are gentle, don't bite, and can be handled safely. Newts are easy to feed and care for. They are readily available at most pet stores.

Hermit crabs are wonderful classroom animals because they are unusual, amusing, and easy to keep. They are land crabs that live in trees in their native habitat. A glass or plastic container, some sand, a few branches for climbing, and a food and water dish is all they require. Hermit crabs need a humid environment, so it is best to have a glass lid for the aquarium to keep moisture inside. Dampen the sand periodically. When the crabs molt they will dig holes in the sand and bury themselves for days at a time and then reemerge. Dried food from a pet store will suit them, but they also like fruit and, surprisingly, popcorn!


Become a Nature Detective: Tracking animals

How to Track Animals

Bear Tracker Animal Tracks for mammals

Animal Tracks and Animal track quiz

BioKids: Animal Tracks and Animal signs

Lots More Animal Tracks

Mammal Tracks in Maine

Click Here To See Pictures of Falcons That Visited the Lab Schools a Few Years in 2008

Web Info About Falcons

Lab School Courtyard Crows Nest 2007

Click here to see pictures of the crow's nest and baby crows that were in the courtyard tree.




Information About Animals:

Fact Zoo:

Animal Biodiversity: University of Michigan

Pill Bugs




Frogs and Toads