These are the guidelines recommended by NSTA concerning the responsible use of animals in a school classroom/laboratory:
Choose animals carefully. You do not want venomous animals, ones that make distracting amounts of noise, or ones requiring controlled environments (as some reptiles do). Before you make any decisions, find out if any students have allergies to hair, fur, or feathers. Wild animals such as chipmunks or songbirds do not belong in the classroom (and possessing them may be in violation of state or local game laws). Small rodents such as guinea pigs, mice, or hamsters are popular classroom residents. (Of these, I personally preferred gerbils—being desert animals, their containers did not need as much cleaning.) Teachers also recommend hissing cockroaches, snakes (such as ball pythons or corn snakes), and other “herps” (such as bearded dragons, iguanas, turtles, or tree frogs). Get animals from a reputable pet shop or other provider (including rescue organizations) who can advise you and the students on their housing and care.
There are some practical and logistical issues, too. Will someone be able to get in to feed the animals or water the plants on weekends or holiday breaks? How much does the temperature fluctuate in your classroom? Do the custodians use potentially harmful cleaning chemicals or pesticides? What happens to the animals over the summer break? I never sent animals home with students, unless I was personally acquainted with the parents and knew they would be properly cared for.
Carolina supports your success withanimals in the classroom
Beyond the Classroom: Animals in the Classroom
Observation and experimentation with living organisms gives students unique perspectives of life processes that are not provided by other modes of instruction. Studying animals in the classroom enables students to develop skills of observation and comparison, a sense of stewardship, and an appreciation for the unity, inter-relationships, and complexity of life. This study, however, requires appropriate humane care of the organism. Teachers are expected to be knowledgeable about the proper care of organisms under study and the safety of their students.Not only is keeping a classroom “pet” dangerous for the animals, it’s also a risk for students and teachers. Many kids have allergies, which can be triggered by certain animals.When animals are trapped inside small cages in a classroom, they’re unable to do most of the things they naturally long to do. For example, and other small mammals are nocturnal (meaning that they sleep during the day and are active at night). But they’re regularly kept in brightly lit classrooms and removed from their cages throughout the day when they should be sleeping.Head Start staff will ensure that only "allowable" animals will be brought into the H.S. classroom and appropriate safety and sanitation procedures will be followed at all times.