4 Reasons Guinea Pigs Are Excellent Class Pets

Updated on July 1, 2019

Theodore, Our Class Pet

After five years of teaching (and five years of great hesitation with this subject), this is my first year hosting a class pet in my 5th grade classroom. A non-teaching staff member on campus offered to donate his guinea pig, along with its cage and some food and bedding to get started, to any teacher willing to take on the responsibility. Many of my students this year expressed great interest in taking care of animals, so I decided it was finally time to adopt a pet.

Here are several reasons why guinea pigs make an excellent class pet:

  1. They are low maintenance
  2. They are inexpensive to care for
  3. Students love them
  4. They can provide teaching opportunities

1. They Are Low-Maintenance Pets

They require feeding and watering once-twice daily. They don’t need to be bathed regularly, and when they do, you can use a damp cloth or non-scented baby wipe. If given enough “chew” toys, they will maintain their own teeth care. Their bedding generally only needs to be freshened or changed about twice a week. My students are more than willing and able to complete each of these jobs. I train my students how to do the jobs and let them take care of the rest. This is an excellent opportunity for the kids to show responsibility!

2. They Are Inexpensive to Care For

I notified the families in my class at the beginning of the year that we would be taking care of a class pet this year and that I may ask them throughout the year to help donate necessities. Several families have taken the initiative to send in things like food, bedding, and treats. I try not to ask too often, and I do take our pet home over long weekends and breaks from school; so I have had to spend money out of pocket to help care for him but not so much to be burdensome. Of course, unless your pet and/or any of their materials were donated to you or you collect monetary donations, you’re going to have to spend the initial necessary amount to get started. Guinea pigs themselves typically range from about $20-35 at pet stores, but you can inquire about pet adoptions for a lower price or even for free! Cages can be quite costly, but you can save money by looking for a clean, second-hand one.

3. Students Love Them

My students were so overcome with excitement when I shared the news of his arrival. I was very worried that a class pet would be too disruptive in the classroom, and the students were quite squirrely during his first couple of weeks there. The novelty began to wear off, and the students adjusted quite well to having him there. They greet him each morning, say goodbye in the afternoons, and show their affection when passing by; but they have gotten used to having him there and no longer get distracted by his noisiness. Although, we do stop to giggle when his squeaking gets a little loud! As a teacher, it’s extremely rewarding to see how happy my students are having a pet to care for.

4. They Provide Teaching Opportunities

As I mentioned before, I have assigned maintenance jobs to my students, which teaches them responsibility. I don’t always just select the same overly responsible students, either. I often select students that need practice with organization or responsibility and use it as a platform to transition them into being more organized and responsible for their own things (homework, desk organization, packing their bags, etc.). I even use those jobs as motivation, for example, “Johnny, I know you would like a turn to take the feeding job. If you can work hard this week on turning in your homework, then I will know you’re ready to be responsible for feeding our pet next week.”

Other Classroom Pet Considerations

There are always things to consider before deciding on a class pet. Make sure that you are willing to take on the responsibility of caring for a pet as if it were your own, especially if you want a pet in younger grade levels. Even if you have students to help take care of certain responsibilities, there will still be times where it’s just you. Also, don’t count on being able to always collect donations for your pet, especially if you teach in a lower-income school.

Plan on having to spend some of your own money on materials you’ll need for a pet. I would not suggest having a class pet if you’re a new or newer teacher simply because when you’re first starting out in this profession, you’re going to be overwhelmed in a lot of areas. Wait a few years until you have a firm grip on the job and classroom management. Some other pets similar to guinea pigs that would be well-suited for a classroom are hamsters, gerbils, fish, or hermit crabs.

Teachers, Parents, or Students - Please vote!

What do you think makes the perfect class pet?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


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    • profile image


      2 months ago

      i don't know if i can trust you after reading all he comments below,

      We might be getting a class pet (i am a student) and my teacher said to research on what we think is the best one

      guinea pigs are #2 on our list and i think i agree on 'how i can report this article' (its down below).

      Now i just don't know who i can trust.

      If guinea pigs are not the best class pet then what pet is ,please someone help me.. :(

    • profile image

      how can I report this article 

      3 months ago

      First of all, guinea pigs can get depression just like humans if they are alone. Second, they are not starter pets, they are very frail and get sick easily so being manhandled by a bunch of kids is very bad for them. Third, one guinea pig needs 7.5 square feet of space minimum to run around in and be healthy. That cage in the pic is way way too small.

      What I understand from this article is that you have no respect for animals and don't care if an animal is living in poor conditions as long as you get to do whatever you want. Besides that, the guinea pig is going to get sick eventually. They can go from healthy to dying in a matter of hours. Since you're so happy taking care of one is "cheap" I'm sure you'd just let him die rather than pay for vet visits.

    • profile image


      9 months ago

      You had a guinea pig as a class pet by himself? These are herd animals. They should never be kept alone. As a teacher it is your responsibility to teach kids the proper care for the animal that you pick. Having a single guinea pig is one of the worst things you can do. I really hope you no longer do this. I can't believe this is promoted on a pet website.

    • profile image


      18 months ago

      I'm not sure they actually make good class pets, a lot of the class mates might treat them badly on accident. they actually need a lot of quality care which classrooms may not give them and they can get scared about being surrounded by humans.

    • profile image


      23 months ago

      i love guines pigs

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Guinea pigs do make good classroom pets, but some of the info here is a bit inaccurate. Guinea pigs actually need a big cage as well as a companion to be happy; this will also increase their lifespan. These facts are in most guinea pig books as well as on many guinea pig websites, such as guineapigcages.com or guinealynx.com, or even https://hubpages.com/hub/5-Most-Common-Guinea-Pig-... which has very good advice.

    • nboyd2906 profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Lewis 

      8 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      Thanks, Donna! :)

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 

      8 years ago from USA

      Great hub and wonderful little tips about incorporating the pet into the curriculum. I'm headed off to read the companion article for more tips. I voted this up.


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