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No, You Did Not Do Your Research

When people acquire a new reptile, or are planning to, there’s a lot of talk about “doing your research”. The implication is that the person acquiring the animal has learned enough to properly care for a creature that was previously unfamiliar to them. All too often, the more they speak, the clearer it becomes that, not only did they not “research”, they don’t even really know what “research” means.

First, a couple definitions.

Research means you are studying to make new discoveries. This could mean finding out things no one else knows yet, or confirming discoveries through your own hands on investigation. This word should be used for actual scientific study and observation — not for reading.

While “study” can mean the same as “research”, it also includes learning from reading, especially from books. I’m not trying to get too hung up on semantics here, but we should really be asking people if they studied, not if they researched.

With either word, however, there’s some work involved. Whether you researched or studied, you put time and effort in, finding information, reading, comparing notes… I’ve seen an alarming trend on Facebook lately, where people will post in reptile groups and say “I’m getting ___, please send me a care sheet.”

This is not researching OR studying. This is barely scraping the surface.

Studying to acquire a new animal should involve multiple sources and time devoted to learning the needs of the animal, not just a cursory glance. You should compare care sheets and look for inconsistencies. Depending on the species, there are many great books available. Be sure to take into consideration the publication date of anything you read, either printed or online. The reptile hobby is constantly learning new things and improving techniques. A book from the 80’s may not be as accurate as a current website. However, you can find gold in those old books as well.

Asking for help on Facebook groups isn’t a bad option, but it should only be part of your studying. Asking people to “send me caresheets” is just about the laziest thing I’ve seen in the reptile community. If you can’t manage to use Google for yourself, I question your ability to go to the effort required to properly care for a live animal.

If using Facebook or other social media for learning how to care for your animal, keep in mind that the popular opinion is not necessarily the correct answer. The answer you like also may not be the correct answer. Popularity and ego should not play a part in preparing for a new pet. The willingness to change your mind when presented with new or better ideas is an important part of ongoing learning. And you should always do your best to verify all info with multiple sources, especially if it’s word of mouth information.

Please, for the sake of your animals, when you “do your research”, make sure you actually do it. You will be rewarded with the health and longevity of your pet or collection.

#ReptileCare and Classroom Pet Reptiles

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This post is sponsored by petMD Reptile Center, and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Reptile Ownership, but HerpetoBotanical only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. petMD and PetSmart are not responsible for the content of this article.

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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.

You can find lots of reptile information online, at places like petMD®. They provide reptile care information, as well as fun quizzes and trivia for your students.

 

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Study Suggestions

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.

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Supplies

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!

Hammer & Vine

This weekend I made it down to Portland, Oregon and finally got a chance to visit Hammer & Vine. I’ve seen them at reptile shows (even got my favorite fern from them, seen in the last picture on this post) and admired their glass on Dendroboard (blown glass egg pods? NEED.) but I hadn’t gotten a chance to visit the actual show until this past Friday. It’s pretty spectacular.

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This is the corner I was looking for! The store was full of all sorts of plants, including a large selection of tillandsia, succulents, bromeliads, carnivorous plants, orchids, and numerous other tropical plants. I picked up a jewel orchid and a small philodendron while I was there.

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The philodendron can be seen on the far right. I haven’t IDed the species yet, but I really like the darker green veining.

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Lots and lots of tillandsias.

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Tillandsias everywhere.

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Some interesting mounted orchids. Once I set up a larger tank, I’ll start collecting these too, I’m sure.

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They had a beautiful selection of bromeliads. I was particularly attracted to some of the striped cryptanthus and the one on the far left below. Again, I need a larger tank before I start collecting these. Only the tiniest species work in the tanks I have now.

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Once I pulled myself away from the plants, the rest of the shop was pretty amazing too.

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The glass dart frog egg pods I want are similar to these. Much better than film canisters! Hopefully Hammer & Vine will start selling them again soon.

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Vases? Sea creatures? Seed pods? I’m not sure, but I really like them.

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This frog lives in a tank under the register.

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Hammer & Vine is located on Burnside in North West Portland, about half a mile west of Powell’s City of Books. If you’re in the area, I strongly suggest visiting both! I stocked up on a bunch of books right after leaving Hammer & Vine… or more like an hour after leaving. I got lost in the book store for quite a while!

30 Gallon Tank, Part 1

I haven’t had frogs in a while. I recently started collecting plants again, and one thing kinda leads to the other. I started a 30 gallon viv to house some of my plants in, but it’s going to eventually have frogs as well.

Here’s how far I’ve gotten so far. The background is made out of sheets of styrofoam. Great Stuff™ expanding foam holds it together and forms the extra details. I cut out holes to put pots in for some of the plants that will go in this tank.

After the Great Stuff™ dried, I used a soldering iron to melt the styrofoam a little. This smooths and hardens the surface.

There will be a waterfall coming down between the two “roots”, and this is the water intake.

A view from above, where the little pond will be.

Crappy picture after applying most of the background. I used dry peat moss and brown silicone.

This gives you an idea of the depth.

Background is dry, and most of the pots are replaced.

I can hardly wait to have moss growing all over this.

I haven’t decided for sure which pots to use. These are the two options I have. The black ones fit the holes better, but the brown ones I think would blend in better. I still have time to decide.

I still have more to do on the background. I’m planning on making vines out of the rope to give the background more dimension, and maybe to help hold the pots in place. I still need to figure out lighting, but I’m happy with how the background is going.