Chameleons in the Classroom
If you’re an educator, you may have considered getting a pet to enrich your classroom environment and spark your students’ imaginations. You might be wondering what type of pet makes the best fit for your classroom. If you’re ready to move beyond a gerbil or a fish tank into the realm of exotic pets, a chameleon could be the right choice for you and your students. With their beautiful colors and complex eyes, chameleons can be highly appealing creatures to watch.
Those who remember The Magic School Bus may recall the iconic Ms. Frizzle having a Jackson’s chameleon as a companion (and occasional substitute teacher). Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering channeling your inner Ms. Frizzle and bringing a chameleon into your classroom.
The Benefits of Class Pets
There are several pros and cons to adding any type of pet to your classroom. Here are some of the benefits you and your students may experience.
- Animals create stimulating and memorable learning experiences. For example, when teaching students about life sciences, you can use chameleons’ many unique adaptations as an example of how animals evolve over millions of years to adjust to their environmental pressures.
- By tasking your students with things such as feeding the chameleon or misting its enclosure, students will learn valuable lessons about compassion, responsibility and respect for other living creatures.
- Classroom pets can bring greater serenity to children who feel anxious, stressed or have trouble focusing. Just watching a chameleon climb around in its enclosure can lessen tension and help students calm down. What teacher wouldn’t want a classroom full of more relaxed students?
- Classroom pets introduce children to the world of animals. Students who aren’t fortunate enough to have a pet of their own at home can experience what it’s like to care for one at school.
Things Consider Before Committing to a Classroom Chameleon
As those of us who have made pets part of our lives already know, getting a pet is a big decision, and one you shouldn’t take lightly. Keep in mind, this chameleon will be depending on you, your students and quite possibly fellow teachers or other members of your school community to provide them with a safe, comfortable and happy life.
Though chameleons don’t make any noise and are less messy than some other types of pets, you must meet very specific husbandry needs for them to stay healthy.
Think about things such as:
- What are the conditions like in your classroom when nobody is around? Chameleons have specific needs for lighting, temperature and humidity. If your school building gets so hot or so cold over the weekends that the chameleon is unable to regulate his own body temperature, it could eventually shorten his lifespan.
- What is the daily mood like in your classroom? For example, chameleons may not be a good fit for a class of younger kids who constantly want to crowd around the chameleon’s cage. In the wild, chameleons are solitary animals, so the continuous presence of other animals will become very stressful.
- Who will care for your chameleon over weekends and school holidays? Even if you have set up the lighting and misting systems on a timer, someone will still have to feed the chameleon. If you’ve committed to bringing the pet home with you, make sure you have enough room and have created the appropriate environmental conditions in your home for your chameleon to stay happy and calm.