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Observe a variety of mammals to determine similarities among them. You might observe mice, hamsters, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and/or rabbits.

You will find that most of the animals in this group live on land, have internal skeletons, have hair or fur on their skin for body covering, have two pairs of legs for locomotion, have glands that produce milk to feed their young, and bear their young alive. Mammals include deer, horses, elephants, monkeys, and people.

Guinea pigs, hamsters, white rate, rabbits, and similar small animals can be raised in the classroom. It is best to obtain such animals from a reliable source (e.g., a laboratory) to be sure they are not diseased. Also be sure to check any local restrictions on keeping such animals in the classroom. Any students who have asthma or have other allergies to furry animals should inform the teacher before an animal is brought into the classroom. Another caution: These critters bite!

For most small mammals, a large wooden box with a wire mesh cover is sufficient. Hamsters will gnaw their way out of a wooden box and are less likely to escape from a wire cage. Cedar shavings or shredded newspapers should be placed in the bottom of the cage and replaced daily. Provide straw, hay, or cotton for animals that like to nest.

Water should be placed in a heavy dish to keep it from being overturned, or a water-drip bottle can be made or purchased from a pet store. Most small mammals will eat commercial pellets, lettuce greens, and carrots. Hamsters will also eat grains such as corn, oats, wheat, and fresh fruit.

It is possible to observe the birth of guinea pigs, gerbils, or white rats kept in cages in the classroom. The teacher might wish to discuss human birth. You may research information about various animal live births.


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