There are SO many great reasons to have a classroom pet. Many students never get to have a pet of their own at home so this is their only 'pet' time, it builds interest in your classroom, they are great for writing about, kids learn responsibility by caring for them, develop empathy taking care of them, they get to learn about a new organism, develop their observation skills, you get additional inside jokes with your students, etc. I have had about a dozen different species of animals in my classroom over the last few years, and I'll talk more about having a tank of fish in another post, but this post is about why you should consider getting a bearded dragon for your classroom pet!
Bearded Dragons are low maintenance. I do not feel like coming in every weekend to feed Chubbs,
so I always give her enough pellets to last her through the weekend with
some little fresh greens on top and she is as happy as can be. I do
this right before I leave work in Friday as well as fill her water bowl.
During the week, I have two responsible students, who applied for and
got the 'zookeeper' job, feed her, once in the morning and once in the
afternoon/lunch time. On Friday, they get to stay in for recess and
clean her cage. The crazy thing is that they love it and all the kids
want to be zookeeper so badly! This is great because then I have to do
very little care for her and can just get her out to run around before
school or carry her around on my shoulder (she sits on my shoulder for
picture day) or whatever I feel like instead of wasting precious time
caring for class pets. I usually come in once or twice for Christmas
break and spring break, but that's it. They are very low maintenance!
My bearded dragon is very calm (except when eating
live food!) so every Friday, during our classroom meeting time when all
my students are circled on the carpet, I get Chubbs out and let her walk
around. Sometimes we feed her a grape or a cherry tomato. Because
they roll, she chases after them, which the kids love! The general rule
of thumb for feeding beardies is that the piece of food needs to be
smaller than the bottom of the triangle shape on the top of their head
(just before their neck). They don't really chew up their food with
teeth; they just kind of mash it with the sides of their mouth (except
mice they eat whole) so it's important to not feed them something that's
too big that they'll choke on. They can bite, but I've only been
bitten once when one of mine was a baby and she was eating off my hand, and it felt like a tiny pinch.
Generally, if you don't wiggle your finger right in front of their
mouth like a worm, you won't have any problems.
Generally, the more you get your beardie out to walk around (before or
after school when the students aren't there to step on her and when the
floor is clear of debris is best) the better. One time, I thought I had
clean floors, but then Chubbs found a red hot cinnamon candy that was
underneath a bookshelf and almost ate it! I had to pry it from her
little mouth! They will eat anything that looks like food/that can fit
in their mouths, so you have to be careful with them. They generally
chillax in their terrariums and only move a little, but they are always
watching, and soon you'll notice they have their own personalities too
(which I never expected from a reptile). I'm sure I'm forgetting cool things they do/important care tips, so leave a comment below to remind me. Because they are so low
maintenance, they're safe around kids, and they're fun to watch, pet,
and feed, I think bearded dragons make great classroom pets!
I also have two tanks
of fish, a terrarium of crickets throughout the year, and "visiting"
pets, like rough skinned newts, banana slugs, pill bugs, snails, etc
that just stay for a week or two before being released into the wild
again. Do you have a classroom pet? Which animals do you think do best as classroom pets?