These procedures will:
- list animals not appropriate for the classroom,
- provide information for safe handling and care of classroom animals, and
- enable appropriate educational use of animals.
1. Animals NOT Appropriate for the Classroom
All animals from the wild are prohibited from the Highline schools classrooms.
- Small Animals
|Type of Animal||Safety Problem/Disease|
|Raccoons, Baby raccoons||Bred in captivity, Unpredictable|
|Squirrels||Not bred in captivity, Unpredictable|
|Bats||Rabies, Should not be held in captivity|
|Wild Rodents||Unpredictable, Biting|
|Aggressive Rabbits||Unpredictable, Biting|
Even very small animals from the wild should never be kept as classroom pets. They can harbor very serious diseases like rabies as well as pests like lice and fleas.
Snakes, Reptiles, Amphibians
Type of Animal Safety Problem/Disease Large Pythons Biting, Aggressive behavior From the wild, Should not be held in captivity Ball Pythons Biting, Aggressive behavior From the wild, Should not be held in captivity Frogs (wild) Salmonella, Should not be held in captivity Alligators Unpredictable, Biting,Salmonella (prohibited)
All reptiles and amphibians can carry salmonellosis, even when bred as pets or for display. They should not be handled by children without very close supervision by an adult. Salmonella is very harmful to children and can sometimes even be fatal. Always wash hands thoroughly after handling reptiles and amphibians.
Birds, Fish, Insects
Type of Animal Safety Problem/Disease Parrots, Parakeets, Cockatoos, Love Birds, Macaws (Psittacine Birds) Psittacosis (Washington State law restricts keeping Psittacine birds in classrooms due to the possibility of spread of infection) Lice, Unpredictable Biting, Prohibited Wild or Injured Birds Dangerous Fish such as Piranhas, etc.Bees (not enclosed/encased) Centipedes Biting, Stings (allergic reaction)Biting, Stings
Domestic animals such as dogs and cats are only appropriate for educational purposes and short classroom visits.
2. Care and Handling of Classroom Pets
- Small Animals
Small animals such as guinea pigs, hamsters, mice and rats can make very good classroom pets if proper care is taken to avoid accidents. All student contact with animals should be organized and supervised. Whenever possible, leather gloves should be worn when handling animals. Hands should be washed after gloves are removed. Children should not touch animals with their faces.
Animals that are well cared for make better pets! Keep bedding clean and dry; and cages well ventilated. Cages should be cleaned daily. Feed pets appropriate foods on a regular basis and keep fresh water available at all times. Use a metal screen or net to keep flammable bedding material from touching lights or heat lamps. Be sure that pets are not exposed to extreme temperatures, especially heat radiating through sunny windows.
Hands should always be washed after handling animals, cages, bedding, etc.
- Snakes, Reptiles and Amphibians
There are many reptiles available through pet stores and dealers. Some are better suited to classroom study than others. Only reptiles bred in captivity are recommended.
Careful research on behavior patterns and required care is recommended before acquiring a classroom reptile.
This small list of reptiles suggested for classroom study was developed with help from experts at the Woodland Park Zoo: Leopard Gecko Tree Frog, Inland Bearded Dragon, Corn Snake and Boa Constrictor (under 8 ft. Argentine Horned Frog in length)
Reptile tanks and aquariums should be as natural as possible and maintained appropriately. HANDS SHOULD BE WASHED after handling a reptile as should all surfaces the reptile has touched.
The following birds are prohibited from being kept in Highline District School classrooms: Psittacine birds such as Cockatoos, Parrots, Parakeets, Macaws, Love Birds. These birds may carry and transmit a harmful bacterial disease called psittacosis (parrot fever). U.S. bred birds of these types may be brought into the classroom by a breeder or a veterinarian for periods of less than one day for educational purposes. Any such birds may only be handled by the breeder or veterinarian, and shall be caged except during demonstration. Any bird excrement will be cleaned immediately by the handler.
- Fish and Aquariums
Fish aquariums should be cleaned and cared for regularly. Used tank water should be disposed of in sinks that are not used for food preparation, or for obtaining water for human consumption.
- Weekend, Vacation Care
Be sure that classroom pets and animals are fed and cared for on weekends and during school vacations. It is especially important to find good, qualified summer caretakers who are interested in caring for a pet. This should be considered BEFORE a classroom "adopts" an animal.
- Veterinarian Care
If possible, teachers should select a veterinarian for the classroom pet and have instructions for weekend or custodial staff should an emergency arise. (A note kept near the animal's cage would work nicely.)
Highline School District 401
Adopted by the Superintendent: June 1997