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home : features : schools & education August 1, 2014


1/16/2013 9:28:00 AM
Oh, rats!
Guinea pigs top rodents in classroom pet showdown
Petco Customer Advisor Kahlen Darr demonstrates one way a pet rat can exercise and be entertained as LVES first- and second-graders look on. Students learned about the care and characteristics of several pets before taking a vote on what their classroom would purchase.
TribPhoto/Sue Tone
Petco Customer Advisor Kahlen Darr demonstrates one way a pet rat can exercise and be entertained as LVES first- and second-graders look on. Students learned about the care and characteristics of several pets before taking a vote on what their classroom would purchase.
TribPhoto/Sue Tone
Kahlen Darr, Petco customer advisor, gives Lake Valley Elementary School youngsters Paige Chilicky, right, and Eddy Walters a chance to pet a ferret and ask questions during a school visit to help decide what pet to choose for the classroom.   
TribPhoto/Sue Tone
Kahlen Darr, Petco customer advisor, gives Lake Valley Elementary School youngsters Paige Chilicky, right, and Eddy Walters a chance to pet a ferret and ask questions during a school visit to help decide what pet to choose for the classroom.
TribPhoto/Sue Tone

Breesa Patrick's first- and second-graders brought in experts to help them decide which animal makes the best classroom pet.

Kahlen Darr, Petco customer advisor, and General Manager Aimee Fowler visited Patrick's classroom at Lake Valley Elementary School this past semester, bringing a guinea pig, rat, betta fish, gecko and ferret to show the youngsters and to talk about the critters' characteristics and care.

Based on research done ahead of time, students had prepared questions for their visitors. In the answers, students learned that rats can be trained; they are smarter than guinea pigs; a rat's tail is used for balance as they walk; Petco employees don't keep the rats long enough to train before selling the little rodents, which live from 3-5 years.

They also learned that aspen chips make good bedding material, chew sticks help with teeth care, and people can train rats to use a litter box.

Geckos need special grooming and misting for humidity. Cockatoos can live to be 70 years old and are very social birds. Turtles don't need special grooming, but they do need special artificial lighting. Tarantulas will sit on one's hand, but they don't like to be petted.

Owners can wipe down guinea pigs with a warm washcloth and also use a brush. A guinea pig skeleton looks just like a guinea pig without fur. Ferrets will chatter when excited, but are not loud about it. A baby ferret is called a joey.

When asked what makes the best classroom pet, Darr said either a guinea pig or a rat. The class took a vote and the guinea pig won. Students now care for two brown and white female guinea pigs named Petal and Rue.


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