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Pets Theme Unit
The Lesson of the Sixteen-Hour Pet



The Lesson of the Sixteen-Hour Pet
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   3.8

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    chinchilla, multi-level, finding, dilemma, nocturnal, environment, settled, terrarium, supplies, personnel, several, often, between, secret, addition, choice
     content words:    New Guinea, When Stacy


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The Lesson of the Sixteen-Hour Pet
By Colleen Messina
  

1     Stacy wanted to get a new pet. She could not decide between a guinea pig and a chinchilla. Guinea pigs were less expensive, but chinchillas were so cute. Stacy did research at a local pet store, and she talked about this dilemma with her family.
 
2     "Chinchillas seem quite friendly, but they also live a long time," said Stacy.
 
3     "How long do they live?" asked Ben, Stacy's younger brother. He already had his own pet. His lizard, Scales, was in a terrarium in his room. Scales had bursts of energy and darted around his cage from time to time. His beady eyes looked as though he knew a special secret.
 
4     "Chinchillas often live to be fifteen years old, but some live as long as eighteen to twenty-two years old. They are nocturnal, and they might keep me up at night if I have one in my room. They need a large, multi-level cage," said Stacy thoughtfully.
 
5     "How long does a guinea pig live? Why are they called guinea pigs?" asked Ben.
 
6     "Guinea pigs live for only five to seven years. Their name seems odd, though, because they are not from New Guinea, and they are not pigs!" said Stacy.
 
7     "I think a guinea pig would be nice. They get to know their owners. They like to eat timothy hay, pellets, fruits, and veggies," said Ben. "A chinchilla would be cute, but it would have a very long life. You would have to take it to college!"
 
8     "I don't think I could have a small pet in most college dorms. I don't know if Mom or Dad wants to take care of a chinchilla when I move away," said Stacy. "Guinea pigs make little noises and don't often bite. Wow, for once I think you are right!"
 
9     Ben was pleased that for once he helped his older sister make a decision. When Stacy told Mom about her choice, Mom looked relieved because a guinea pig was less expensive!

Paragraphs 10 to 20:
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