How Animals Help Reduce Student Stress


Juggling last-minute deadline stress, late nights and living on the breadline – student life can be difficult for anyone, no matter which walk of life you’re from.

It’s inevitable that every student will experience stress at some point or another throughout their studies – however, there are many ways in which this can be combatted – which doesn’t necessarily involve binge-watching Netflix or hitting the booze.

It has been evident for years that animals can help to reduce stress – from therapy dogs being offered in workplaces in America, to universities in the UK offering animal therapy sessions.

Students at the University of Salford were treated to a visit from Oreo and Friends Animal Encounters, based in Sheffield, in an effort to reduce some of that end-of-year pressure.

Oreo and Friends have been taking their animal services across the country for the past two years.

The animals include 18-month-old raccoon Meredith, skunks Arizona and Stinkerbell, as well as snakes, spiders and an array of other creepy-crawlies.

Organiser and animal handler Lucan Handley says how “everyone’s always amazed to see the animals.”

“None of these animals are native to the UK so they’re not animals you get to see everyday. People get a lot more excited when you can get hands on rather than just seeing them on screen.”

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Lucan Handley with Arizona and Stinkerbell. Photo Credit: Ellie Kemp

And getting hands-on is an all-important factor of reducing the stress – early studies have shown how petting animals can can help to reduce blood pressure – physically lowering the symptoms of stress.

There was a large turn-out at the University of Salford for the Oreo and Friends event – which let students book a 10-minute slot to meet the animals for free.

This surely is testament to how longed-after animals are – whether it’s because students want to see something ‘cute and cuddly’ to brighten up their day, or maybe it’s because they’re missing their own pets from home, too.

Handley has experienced first-hand the therapeutic affects that animals can have.

Lucan Handley. Photo Credit:

“My little boy who is autistic himself – severely autistic – he loves animals. His favourite is the big snake, he likes the weight of the snake. It seems to go down a treat – everyone loves cuddly, fluffy animals.”

On caring for these exotic animals, Handley says;

“These are my pride and joy, these all live at my house, and I take a lot of pride in the animals and they are all super, super tame.

“I can’t see myself working with anything other than animals. I prefer them to people!”

Oreo and Friends are available for bookings. Find out more about the services they offer and get in contact here.

This was originally written as past of a university assignment. 


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