Classroom Pets


Classroom Pets 

Teachers and students can help protect our lakes, ponds, rivers and streams from the harmful effects of invasive species by following a few simple steps. Learn more about the link between classroom pets and AIM and be sure to share these tips with others. 


Getting Started

  • Choose regionally-native or non-invasive plants and animals. These species pose less risk to the environment.
  • Confirm that species are allowed under state and federal regulations.
  • Ask the vendor for the scientific name of each organism to make sure you received the appropriate species. In some cases, the vendor may substitute similar organisms that may harm the local environment.
  • Contact your state natural resources agency if the packaging was damaged and you suspect that an organism was accidentally released or escaped.
  • Rinse plants in a bucket after unpacking to remove all other materials, including dirt, vegetation, animals and eggs.
  • Remove any dirt, vegetation or other materials from animals after unpacking.

Removal and Disposal

  • Sterilize unwanted water by adding ¼ teaspoon bleach for each gallon of water before pouring it down the drain.
  • Freeze all debris, packing materials and unwanted plants in a sealed plastic bag before throwing them in the trash. This ensures the plants are dead before they are carried to landfills or other locations where living plants could still cause harm.
  • Find new homes for unwanted plants and animals, such as a retailer or another school or classroom.
  • Ask the new owner or students who are allowed to care for the organisms to sign an adoption pledge form.
  • Contact a veterinarian or pet retailer for guidance if euthanasia is required.

 These steps were adapted from the ANS Task Force guidelines.

 

Retailers and Wholesalers

As a purveyor of live aquatic plants and animals for use in classrooms, you can help protect our natural areas from invaders by adopting a few simple practices. Learn more about the link between classrooms and aquatic invasive species, and be sure to share these tips with your customers and other suppliers.

General

  • Comply with all federal, state and local regulations related to the import, quarantine, propagation, holding, sale and distribution of aquatic animals and plants, including those governing areas where you sell and ship.
  • Determine whether existing stocks of organisms are invasive in the areas they’re stored and eliminate any invasive species.
  • Consider establishing a program that allows customers to give back plants and animals they no longer wish to maintain. 

Buying and Receiving

  • Evaluate the potential invasiveness of every species before acquiring it for sale.
  • Purchase only those organisms labeled with scientific names.
  • Ensure that the organisms you obtain are correctly identified—ideally to species.
  • Purchase only animals and plants that show no sign of disease or parasitic infestation.  

Containing

  • Comply with federal, state and local regulations for construction of all propagation and holding ponds or tanks.
  • Build ponds and situate tanks to ensure that they and their contents—including any outflows and overflows—stay separate from natural or public water bodies.
  • Rinse plants in a bucket before planting or adding to tanks to remove excess material, including dirt, vegetation, animals and eggs.
  • Remove all dirt, vegetation or other excess material from animals before adding them to your pond or tank.
  • Quarantine new animals in a separate, filtered container for 2-4 weeks before adding them to your pond or tank.

Growing

  • Use spring, well or filtered water in ponds and tanks—avoid using untreated surface water, which may contain unreported invaders.
  • Visually and manually inspect ponds and tanks for the presence of invasive species and decontaminate if AIM are found. Decontamination information can be found here and here.

Disposing

  • Dump rinse water on dry land or add ¼ teaspoon bleach for each gallon of water before pouring it down the drain.
  • Put all debris, packing material, and unwanted plants and plant parts in a sealed plastic bag, freeze if possible, and place in the trash. Freezing ensures the plants are dead before they’re carried to landfills or other locations where living plants could still cause harm.
  • Never release unwanted plants or animals into natural or public water bodies.
  • Contact a veterinarian or pet retailer for guidance if euthanasia is required.

Selling

  • Promote regionally native or non-invasive plants and animals.
  • Avoid selling or shipping organisms to areas in which they are invasive—not all invasive species are regulated. Visit the Alternatives, ND STAIR, Predicting Invaders, and Meet the Invaders pages or contact your local natural resource managers for more details.
  • Label all plants and animals with accurate scientific and common names.
  • Avoid selling organisms showing signs of disease or parasitic infestation.
  • Ensure that customer purchases, including containers and packaging materials, are free of dirt, vegetation, animals, eggs and other excess material.

Educating Customers

  • Share your knowledge of AIM and the steps teachers and other individuals can take to prevent AIM introduction and spread.