4-H Critter Companion Project

Each member will be required to complete three (3) educational activities from the list approved by the project leader and Extension Educator. This list is available on the Extension Office web site. These activities are to be turned in with your Critter Companion Record Sheet at project check in. Each activity should be a completed on an individual Critter Companion Activity Sheet. This sheet can be found on the Critter Companion webpage. Each completed activity must be dated.

Posters will not be eligible.

4-H members may exhibit one critter or species (i.e. two hamsters in one cage), confined in an appropriate carrier or cage. 

Examples of critter companions:

  • Caged Birds
  • Rodents (rats, mice, hamsters, gerbils)
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Reptiles
  • Amphibians
  • Crustaceans
  • Ferrets
  • Legal Exotic Animals (sugar gliders, hedgehogs, etc)

All animals must comply with local, state, and federal laws as applicable. A 4-Her in possession of any wildlife must include proper permit and/or license. The 4-H member should check with the project leader or Extension Educator to see if the animal they have chosen for this project will meet the criteria for this project.

A 3-ring notebook must accompany the critter with the following:

  • Primary animal (the 4-H member’s feature pet) or focus animal (pet species researched by the 4-H member but not owned by the member)
    • If 4-H siblings own animals in a single cage, each exhibitor must designate which animal is their primary pet (need not be the same animal every year)
  • The primary animal’s personal history and care or explanation of focus animal’s care requirements or 4-Her may use a form that can be found on the Purdue Extension Boone County website 4-H Critter Companion page.
    • Be Creative!
  • Other sections in the notebook may contain other information collected about the primary animal or focus animal. Material from previous years may also be included in the notebook but must be labeled as such. Cover of binder must include a photo of 4-Her and pet (a close-up is strongly recommended).

Judging will occur in an open judging format with the member being interviewed by the judge. The animal may or may not be handled. Animals are to be taken home immediately following judging and the notebook will be displayed at the county fair. Ferret owners must submit the Indiana 4-H Ferret Health Certificate with the ferret at exhibit check-in. This form is available on the Extension Office web site. Failure to complete 3 activities for the proper category (beginner, intermediate, advanced) will result in the judged exhibit being penalized one ribbon grade.

This is not a wildlife project. Any activity focusing on a wildlife species that is not a legal pet will also result in a penalty of one ribbon grade reduced. Possession of any species considered illegal, without proof of proper license or permit, will be allowed to participate and exhibit, but will be ineligible for a ribbon other than Participation.

An animal is not required for participation in this project or to exhibit at the fair, but the exhibit of a 4-Her without a pet may or may not be considered for division champion or higher.