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2016-2017 school year

ratEDUCATIONAL HELPERS - One Fulton Middle School classroom has two new full-time inhabitants.

Two female pet standard fancy rats (pictured above and held by Telesha Taylor and CaTya McManus) recently came to live in Amy Chicoine’s science classroom. The sisters, who are approximately four months old, live in a 3X2X5ft. palace – better known as a cage. Their home has two levels connected by a metal stairway that both girls can use with ease.

After taking nominations for names, the students voted to name the fancy rats D’NA and R’NA.

According to a fact sheet Chicoine sent home to her students’ parents, pet fancy rats are by far the most intelligent, affectionate, and responsive of all the small rodents, and are ideal pets for children. The fancy rats are the domesticated version of the brown rat and have been bread to be very social, clean, playful, quiet and colorful. They are happiest when kept in single sex pairs and when interacted with regularly. They enjoy having time to explore and appreciate a variety of snacks (if it’s healthy for humans, it is often healthy for them). The average life span of fancy rats is two to three years and the average body length of an adult fancy rat is 9-11 inches. Chicoine stated they are sometimes referred as “pocket-sized dogs” because they can even be trained to do tricks!

The addition of D’NA and R’NA to the classroom has opened up five leadership positions for students including UPS, Secretary, Greeter, Inspector and Board Manager. Another job that will soon be available is Pet Caretaker. This job will be available to the students who have shown leadership in past positions held and/or in their participation in class activities, respect towards their classmates, and drive to complete schoolwork with excellence. According to Chicoine, no student will be required to interact with the fancy rats or take part in cleaning the enclosure.

Students who volunteer for and are selected for Pet Caretaker may have one of the following responsibilities:

* Feeding daily meals

* Feeding supplementary snacks (fruits, vegetables, treats, etc.)

* Changing the water

* Rotating play toys

* Recording observations

* Holding and playing with the rats

D’NA and R’NA are also going to be used in various lesson plans throughout the year. The first lesson plan will have students looking at stereotypes and looking at how people often regard rodents in general. This will eventually lead to a discussion on how humans often stereotype each other. Students will compare and contrast the facts and fiction of these stereotypical situations.

Chicoine plans to incorporate the new classroom friends in other activities as well throughout the rest of the school year.

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