Sippican School welcomes new library pets

Sep 19, 2019

MARION — Sippican School Librarian Jessica Barrett has welcomed two new guests into her library, but unlike her students, they are nocturnal, have shells, and live in a tank.

Barrett got the idea to adopt a library pet over the summer after seeing other school librarians “raving” about the “Pets in the Classroom” grant from Petco. She chose to avoid animals with fur out of consideration for students with allergies, and ultimately chose to adopt a hermit crab after receiving the grant.

She brought in the first hermit crab on Thursday Sept. 12, and brought in a second crab the next day, after some quick research revealed that hermit crabs are social animals.

In addition to being interesting to students, Barrett said that the crabs will help her teach researching skills and animal care. “We’re always looking for real life research opportunities to make their learning meaningful,” she said.

Barrett said she will ask students to research questions about the ideal diets, and habitats for hermit crabs, and have students apply their findings to better care for the animals. Students will also learn to read the thermometer and hygrometer in the tank to make sure the crabs are in an ideal environment. Barrett said that the hygrometer measures humidity, and is important because hermit crabs require moisture to breathe properly.

The new pets don’t have names yet, but students are currently voting using an electronic invention kit called a “Makey Makey.” Students press down on a panel representing a possible name for a crab. Each student gets two votes, since there are two crabs. Barrett said voting will close on Friday, Sept. 20.

On Thursday, Sept. 19 Barrett’s first class of the day, a group of sixth graders, lined up to the Makey Makey machine to place their bets between Albert, Shelbert, Peppa, and Snickers, and to take a look at the library’s newest members.

So far, Barrett said that students have been enthusiastic about coming up with names, and lining right up to view the “crabitat” in her library. 

Barrett said that students haven’t handled the animals just yet, as she wants to give them time to adjust to their new environment. 

Although hermit crabs can sustain themselves for a couple days, provided that they have water, Barrett said she took them home over the first weekend to make sure they were cared for with help from her son Isaac, who is a third grader at Sippican School.