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Parents, teachers, and other adults that care for children often have questions about kids and reptiles interacting. At what age should children be around reptiles or have one for a pet? What are the risks or rewards? What reptile would make a suitable pet for a child? Is it a good idea for kids to be exposed to reptiles?
Kids should absolutely be allowed to interact with reptiles! Curious minds thrive on new and interesting experiences, and reptiles in the classroom open up a whole of possibilities to your students and their education.
Benefits of Classroom Pet Reptiles
Classroom pets can add a lot to your curriculum. You can use them as a way to tie in real world experiences to ideas that may be a bit more abstract to your kids. For example, a Bearded Dragon might be a great way to lead into a course about Australian wildlife and geography. A Kingsnake could tie into a class about American wildlife and conservation.
Or maybe holding the reptile could serve as a reward for completing certain tasks in class. Shy children may benefit from having an animal nearby. Whatever roll the reptile plays in your class, it will certainly pique the interest of your students and fuel their curiosity.
Reptiles can segue into many different topics. Conservation and habitat restoration could be discussed about almost every species. You could study life cycles, egg development, and food chains.
You can find more helpful guides on petMD to help you prepare for teaching your students about reptiles.
Picking the Right Reptile
Choosing the correct animal will make all the difference in your success with a classroom pet or a child’s pet. First, decide how you want to interact with this animal. If you want a no-touching pet, your options are wider, but you may have difficulty enforcing that rule. The kids may get into the cage when you’re not looking, so picking an animal that can tolerate handling, or choosing a locking cage may be best.
If you’d prefer an animal that can handle some interaction, there are many great choices. Bearded Dragons tend to be docile and easy to handle. Turtles are a popular choice as well and are one of the most widely loved reptiles. It’s hard to find someone who’s scared of a turtle. Snakes can make great classroom pets as well and may provide opportunities for helping students or parents deal with some irrational fears. Sometimes a little education is all it takes.
I recently wrote a post on what supplies you’ll need for a new pet reptile. That post can help you create a checklist of what you’ll need, and you can find your supplies online at the Reptile Purchase Center online or at PetSmart®.
Have you had a pet reptile in your classroom, or your child’s class? What topics did it lead to in their studies? Share with us below!