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Animal Caretaker  What They Do

Just the Facts

Feeds, waters, grooms, bathes, exercises, or otherwise cares for pets and other nonfarm animals, such as dogs, cats, ornamental fish or birds, zoo animals, and mice. Works in settings such as kennels, animal shelters, zoos, circuses, and aquariums. May keep records of feedings, treatments, and animals received or discharged. May clean, disinfect, and repair cages, pens, or fish tanks.

This career is part of the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources cluster Animal Science pathway.

A person in this career:

  • Feeds and waters animals according to schedules and feeding instructions.
  • Mixes food, liquid formulas, medications, or food supplements according to instructions, prescriptions, and knowledge of animal species.
  • Examines and observes animals for signs of illness, disease, and injury.
  • Provides treatment to sick or injured animals, or contacts veterinarians to secure treatment.
  • Does facility laundry and cleans, organizes, maintains, and disinfects animal quarters, such as pens and stables, and equipment, such as saddles and bridles.
  • Performs animal grooming duties such as washing, brushing, clipping, and trimming coats, cutting nails, and cleaning ears.
  • Answers telephones and schedules appointments.
  • Responds to questions from patrons, and provides information about animals, such as behavior, habitat, breeding habits, or facility activities.
  • Orders, unloads, and stores feed and supplies.
  • Collects and records animal information such as weight, size, physical condition, treatments received, medications given, and food intake.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to hazardous situations involving possible injury such as cuts, bites, stings, and minor burns more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Animal Health Technician -- Performs technical work concerned with animal health in support of veterinarians or veterinary medical programs. They often work with laboratory animals.
  • Animal Rehabilitator -- Treats and cares for sick or injured pets and service animals, including dealing with and changing animal behavior problems, often the result of abuse or neglect.
  • Aviculturist -- Raises and breeds birds while maintaining the natural habitat of the birds and are dedicated caretakers who educate the public about bird history, care and habitat in order to promote the longevity of the species.
  • Dog Groomer -- Combs, clips, trims, and shapes dogs' coats to groom dogs, using knowledge of canine characteristics and grooming techniques and styles.
  • Hostler -- Cares for horses and maintains stables and equipment.
  • Kennel Assistant -- Performs work related to the routine care of animals, tending to their feeding and monitoring their health.
  • Veterinary Technician -- Performs variety of animal health care duties in settings such as veterinarians' clinics, zoos, research laboratories, kennels, and commercial facilities.
  • Wildlife Rehabilitator -- Takes care of sick and injured wild animals. These individuals may work at wildlife rehabilitation centers, nature centers, nonprofit organizations or within city and state parks.
  • Zookeeper -- Feeds, cleans and monitors zoo animals to ensure their health and comfort remains consistent.